I have decided to join the cupcake craze. If you know me, you know I’ve resisited cupcakes for a long time. I’ve found them to be tedious with barely satisfactory results. And messy, both for me as the baker and as the cleaner-upper-after the kids make a crumbly disaster of them.
But, I think I’ve become a convert. I think I’m a little hooked. I’ve gotten rid of the tedious and am reducing the messy, atleast on the baker’s end. I can only do so much about kids.
Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up:
I was first inspired by this blog. She talks all about different frosting techniques and the various decorating tips you need to achieve different looks. I haven’t tried any of her frostings, nor have I tried all of the different decorating tips, but I did find her video tutorial to be very helpful. The basic gist is to use a jumbo tip. Different looks are achived by either starting in the center of your cupcake and circling out, or starting at the outer edge of your cupcake and circling in. Anyhow, watch it. Be amazed at how easily you too can have fabulous looking cupcakes.
So decorating tips took care of my first issue with cupcakes: tedious frosting with a spatula. Of course, a spatula gives you a nice smooth top if that is the look you are trying to achieve. And, decorating tips do use a lot more frosting, so be prepared for that. But really, don’t 9/10 kids just lick the frosting and leave the cupcake anyhow?
My next issue: spooning batter makes a mess. Here’s an easy fix for that one. If you’re not already, use cupcake liners. Much cuter and way easier to remove the cupcakes from the pan. Pour your batter into a ziplock bag, seal it, and snip the corner. Squirt. Much cleaner and much, much faster than spooning batter into each cupcake well. I found that a quart size bag is easy to manage and holds enough batter for approximately 20-22 cupcakes. Personally, I like to fill my liners just shy of 2/3. They rise to just above the top of the liner when they bake, which gives you a nice surface to decorate.
Another trick that I learned in the video tutorial above was to stand my decorating bags into a tall glass to make it easier to load the frosting. This tip works well for loading batter into the ziplock bag.
I’ve also found that displaying cupcakes closely together (like I did in the picture above) hides mistakes. Speaking of mistakes, if when frosting, you goof, scrape it off and start over. Much easier to do on a cupcake than a big ‘ol sheet cake!
And finally, to cute-ify those now-fabulous looking cupcakes: sprinkles and picks. How easy is that? My son’s baseball cupcakes (above) had picks made from “action shots” of each of the boys. One of the moms took a picture of each boy, cut around the player and glued the picture onto a straw. Other pick ideas…check out your local dollar store, umbrellas, little army people or other plastic figures that match a party theme, stickers and stamps on circles of paper. The ideas are endless, just have fun!
Oh, and one last thing I did last time I made cupcakes…instead of doing a full batch of big cupcakes, I used some of the batter to make mini cupcakes using my mini-muffin pan. When it came time to decorate, I used my same jumbo tip (Wilton 1M) and did one squirt of frosting in the middle of the cupcake. They turned out super cute and were a nice compromise for parents who only wanted a bite, and for kids who tried to negotiate two cupcakes!
Now that I’m well on my way to becoming a cupcake convert, what other tips do you have for me?