What are Cupcakes?
Cupcakes are small sweet individual sized sponge cakes which are often decorated with icing, frosting and other decorations. In the UK cupcakes are often referred to as fairy cakes - perhaps because of their small size.
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Cupcakes can be baked directly in a patty tin which is similar to a muffin tin only smaller, however they are most often baked in paper cases - either plain white cases or coloured decorated cases.
Cupcakes are a favourite to serve at teatime and especially for children's parties, when they can be decorated with icing and sweets - kids love cupcakes and they also love to get involved in making them.
How to make cupcakes - general instructions for making cupcakes
Basic Cupcake Mix
The basic mixture for a cupcake recipe is the same as for many other large sponge cake recipes with the basic mixture consisting of
50g/2oz self raising flour
50g/2oz Caster sugar (superfine)
50g/2oz Butter or margarine (shortening)
These quantities are enough to make about 6 medium or 10 very small cupcakes, about 5cm/2-inches in diameter and can be doubled or trebled as required, however make sure to keep the same proportions of ingredients i.e. if you wish to treble it the amounts would be
150g/6oz Self Raising Flour
150g/6oz Caster Sugar (superfine)
150g/6oz Butter or Margarine (shortening)
Mixing the cupcake ingredients
Although the traditional method is to cream together the butter and sugar, then add the egg, mixing well, before adding the flour, good results can be achieved by just placing all the ingredients in the mixing bowl at the same time (with the exception of any additional fruit if using) as does mixing the cupcake ingredients in a food mixer or processor.
How much mixture to put in the cupcake paper case or tin
A level tablespoon in each paper case will make medium sized cupcakes about 7.5cm/3-inches in diameter. A heaped teaspoon of cupcake mixture in each paper case or cupcake hole will make small cupcakes about 5cm/2-inches in diameter. You can make larger and deeper cupcakes by placing more of the cupcake mixture in the cases or cupcake hole however, never fill the case or hole more than 2/3rds full.
At what oven temperature should cupcakes be cooked ?
In general 190C, 375F, Gas Mark 5 although if you have a fan assisted oven, you should reduce the temperature accordingly.
For how long should cupcakes be cooked?
If you are using the above guidelines or a heaped teaspoon of cupcake mixture per cake, 15 minutes should be long enough however, you can test whether the cupcake is cooked through by pushing a wooden toothpick into the centre. If it comes out clean, then the cupcake mixture has cooked through. If you decide to make slightly larger cupcakes, they will need an extra 5 minutes or so.
Decorating Cupcakes - How to decorate Cupcakes
Before you decorate your cupcakes, it is important to allow them to cool completely by removing them from the baking sheet or tin, and placing on a wire rack. Once cool, the options are endless, but here are just a couple of ideas for decorating cupcakes:-
Light Glacé icing or frosting
Simply mix icing sugar (confectioners Sugar) with a very little water until the mixture is smooth but not too runny, then spread thinly over the tops of the cupcakes. Flavourings can be added to the icing mixture such as lemon, orange or coffee, as can colourings and you can sprinkle the icing with chocolate vermicelli, hundreds and thousands or small sweets before it sets on the cupcake. Click here for lots of Glace Icing Recipes
Butter cream (butter icing)
Mix up your favourite butter cream flavour and spread or pipe on the tops of the cupcakes. Click here for lots of Butter Cream recipes. As with the simple icing above, further decorations can be pressed into the butter icing.
Fairy cake wings
Once the cupcakes are cold, cut a thin slice from the tops and cut them in half down the centre. Place a teaspoon of jam or butter cream (butter icing) on top of the cut surface of the cupcake then set the two cut pieces into the jam or butter cream at an angle to form wings.
Below are lots of cupcake recipes plus a video showing you how to make and decorate these scrumptious Easter Chocolate cupcakes in easy to follow steps.
Chocolate Easter Cupcakes recipe
Prep and cooking time: 35 minutes plus cooling
For the cakes
100g /4oz Butter or Margarine, softened
100g /4oz Caster Sugar
2 Medium Eggs, lightly beaten
100g /4oz Self Raising Flour, sieved
25g /1oz Cocoa Powder
For the Topping
100g /4oz very soft Butter
225g /8oz Icing Sugar
1-2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 x 100g/4oz packet Chocolate Mini Eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas Mark 4 and place 12 paper cases into a 12-hole patty or cupcake tin.
2. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon, hand whisk or in a food processor, until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in the eggs a little at a time until well incorporated. If the mixture begins to curdle, add a little flour.
4. Fold in the remaining flour and cocoa with a spatula until the mixture is well blended.
5. Place a heaped teaspoon of cake mixture into each paper case then bake for 15 - 20 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.
6. For the butter icing, place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until very soft. Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder and beat well with a wooden spoon until well mixed and very smooth.
7. Pipe or spread the butter icing onto the top of each cake then arrange three chocolate mini eggs in the centre of each.