Secret Baking Hacks: Here Come the Cupcakes!
Cupcakes! Who doesn’t love them? These handheld goodies have been popular with bakers since the 1800s, when the breakthrough treats were first introduced as an early kitchen hack to full-size cake baking. Although cupcakes were basically limited to just two flavors—vanilla and chocolate—no one complained. The easy-to-remember recipes and shorter baking times more than made up for the limited flavors.
Fast-forward to the 21st century. We can truly say cupcakes have endured! Not just because they’re convenient. They’re also the most versatile dessert in the baking world. Think about it for a minute:
- You can make cupcakes in almost any flavor today.
- Frostings and decorations are only confined by your imagination.
- Cupcakes work for almost any event—birthday parties, graduations, baby showers and, yes, even the most sophisticated of weddings.
So what are you waiting for? Pull out your mixing bowls and BAKER’S SECRET® MUFFIN PANS —available in mini muffin, standard and giant Texas muffin sizes, and get creative! To make it easier than ever, here are 15 helpful cupcake hacks!
FILL ‘ER UP
Filling cupcakes sound difficult? Not. It’s easy-peasy:
- Use a sharp knife to cut small circle in the top of each cupcake
- Scoop out a small amount of cake with a tiny spoon
- Fill the hollow with pudding, caramel, chocolate sauce, marshmallow creme, fruit compote, you name it.
Top with frosting to cover up the filling.
WHY: Surprise! Not just another cupcake.
If you want the batter just right, blend the dry and wet ingredients just enough that lumps are still present.
WHY: Over mixing results in flatter, tough or chewy cupcakes that may seem tough or chewy.
MONITOR TEMP AND SPACE
Be patient and don’t cut corners. Resist popping your cupcake pan into an oven that isn’t completely preheated, or crowding more cupcake pans into an oven to save time.
WHY: Both mishaps lead to uneven baking. And, when it comes to cupcakes, avoid the cardinal sin of overbaking. They’ll be dried out duds.
COOL CUPCAKE LINERS
Out of cupcake liners? Don’t want to spend more? No problem! You can bake in Baker’s Secret muffin pans without them. Or, to put a trendy spin on it, cut circles or squares from parchment paper, then push them into the individual cups, creasing the paper as needed.
WHY: Who doesn’t want to be thrifty and cool?
DON’T LOSE YOUR MARBLES
Nothing says “I love you” like a heart-shaped cupcake. But you don’t need to race out to find a special pan—just grab your trusty BAKER’S SECRET® SIGNATURE™ 6-CUP (2-1/2″ x 8″ x 1-1/3″) MUFFIN PAN try this trick:
- Place cupcake liners in each cup
- On the side of each cup, place a marble between the liner and pan
- Bake as directed
WHY: The marble will shape your cupcake into a heart. To make a shamrock or a flower, use four evenly spaced marbles. Voila!
LIGHTEN THE CALORIES
Want to lower calorie and fat counts in your cupcakes? Substitute oil with applesauce at a 1:1 ratio. In other words, if the mix calls for 1/3 cup of oil, use 1/3 cup of applesauce instead. Another option: Avocado. Use it at a 1:1 ratio, too, but you may need to add extra water or other liquid to achieve the best cake consistency.
WHY: Applesauce won’t affect flavor or baking time, and results in 600 fewer calories than vegetable oil! Can you say win/win?
BOOST THE BOX MIX
Jazz up store-bought cake mixes with a few quick add-ins. Some awesome stir ins?
- Instant pudding mix
- Baking cocoa
- Fruit preserves
- Chocolate chips
- Chopped dark chocolate
- Toffee bits
- Crushed candies
- Finely chopped nuts
WHY: All as we can say is, why not?
SODA POP SENSATIONS
Two ingredients are all it takes for this shortcut. Stir cake mix and a can of soda pop, pour, bake and enjoy. Pair dark colas with chocolate cake mix and white sodas with yellow cake. Use diet pop to reduce calories.
WHY:The cupcakes come out moist, fluffy, and some say with a bit of a kick depending on flavors used.
SIZED ‘EM UP
Uneven cupcakes just don’t cut it. Who wants the runty one? To make sure all your cupcakes are the same size, use an ice cream scoop to portion out batter into a standard-size BAKER’S SECRET® SIGNATURE™ 12-CUP MUFFIN PAN. For two-bite treats, use a tablespoon to add batter to BAKER’S SECRET® SIGNATURE™ 24-CUP (16-3/4″ x 10-3/4″ x 1″) MUFFIN PAN.
WHY: Unlike cooking, baking is a science. So, build up your baking credibility keeping your cupcake results uniform in size, shape and deliciousness. They’ll think you’re a pro.
SWEET OR SAVORY
Cupcakes don’t have to be cakey. Use cookie dough to create chewy cookie cupcakes. How about mini pies? Line each muffin cup with pie crust, fill, top and bake! Or try something savory like these decadent Easy Truffle Mac ’n Cheese Cupcakes.
WHY: Variety is the spice of dessert.
Short on food coloring? Use flavored gelatin instead. A little goes a long way. Start with only a pinch or two of powder, adding more until you have the perfect hue.
WHY: A great way to add complementary flavors to your cupcakes. Pair cherry gelatin with chocolate, or orange gelatin with lemon cupcakes.
Don’t have time to whip up frosting?
- Pull your cupcakes from the oven, 5 minutes short of the recommended baking time.
- Top each cupcake with a large marshmallow
- Bake for the remaining 5 minutes or until done
WHY: The marshmallows will melt and spread over the top of your cupcake. Done!
Avocados, believe it or not, add the right hue and a slight citrusy flavor to frosting. How?
- Mash an avocado with a tablespoon (or so) of soft butter
- Add in a couple cups of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla
WHY: It’s a healthier take on cupcakes!
A FINE FINISH
Instead of frosting, decorate chocolate or dark-spice cupcakes by placing a doily or lace on top of each cake, sprinkling powdered sugar over the top, then removing the doily.
WHY: Sophistication achieved with ease!
ON THE MOVE
Transporting cupcakes doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Try a Snapware®
Snap ’N Stack® Cookie & Cupcake Carrier to deliver them in tip-top shape. You can also individually protect standard-size cupcakes by placing them in plastic cups and wrap for freshness in clear plastic gift bags tied with ribbon. To move mini cupcakes, collect egg cartons.
WHY: Who wants to sweat the trip with your lovingly baked goods?
YOUR TURN: How do you make cupcake baking easier, tastier or prettier? Share your hacks here!