Confession time: I don’t believe in using a mixer for making the majority of cakes (cup sized or otherwise). I find it too easy to over-mix the batter which is the kiss-of-death to an otherwise sexy cake. There is an immediate gauge of how far the cupcake is mixed when the mixing is done by hand. Manual mixing is my preference for the majority of my baking and something that I strongly recommend where possible.
Aside from the preference to mix by hand there are two other contributing factors for me eschewing the mixer:
- Circumstances: For many a year my kitchen didn’t have a mixer so I got very used to just not using one. The only mixer I have access to is my Mums! When I’m there I just don’t think to use it.
- Laziness: Spoons, forks, spatulas, and whisks are smaller and super-duper easy to wash up. Aside from six months in my life, I’ve never lived in a place with a dishwasher (not a problem, I kinda like washing up) so washing up that is super-duper easy is a win for me.
My Rules of Thumb for Cupcake Baking
- Always preheat the oven in plenty of time. For cupcakes, this can normally be done at the very start as most ovens will heat up in the time it takes to prep the tin, make the cupcake batter, and fill the baking tray.
- Prepare the baking tray after turning the oven on. When it comes to cakes, once you mix the wet and the dry, the quicker you get it in the oven the better. There are scientific reasons for this, I’m not just making it up. Don’t let the mixed batter hanging around. You do this and could be looking for trouble. If the oven ain’t warmed up in time then leave the wet and the dry separate and only combine once the oven is up to speed.
- Do.Not.Over-mix. Mix the batter till just combined. That is all that’s needed. Honest.
- Most cupcake batters will have some form of raising agent in them, so you don’t need to fill the cases to the very top (about 3/4 full works for most cupcakes). If you do that, they will most likely dome – which is cool if that’s what you’re after but if you want to decorate then a no-dome look is best. If they dome when they aren’t meant to then level it out by cutting off the protruding bit of cake.
- Once the cupcakes are done baking, let them cool in the tray for a good five minutes. Then transfer them to the cooling rack to finish cooling completely. This is important because if air isn’t able to circulate around the cupcakes’ hot little bottoms then it can get a little damp down there (and not in a good way).
- Unless otherwise specified, leave the cupcakes to cool completely before icing.