Monday, 9 February 2009

Cupcake Ingredients for Cupcake Recipes

Cupcake recipes make baking cupcakes as easy as 1 - 2 - 3! You don't have to know how to cook to bake cupcakes. Cupcake recipes make it easy and for everyone. But before we begin baking the most scrumptious cupcakes we need to review some general rules about baking cupcakes.
Like anything, your first attempt at baking cupcakes won't be perfect. It's an art and it takes time to perfect that art. The more you practice, the nicer your cupcakes will be!
You need three main things before you start baking your first batch of cupcakes:
1- A killer cupcake recipe (which I will be providing for you so you can check that off the list!)
2- The right set of tools and some knowledge of how the cupcake ingredients work.
3- A lot of cupcake love.

If you can check all of those things off your list, then you are ready to start making cupcakes.

If you can't check off number 2, then you are in the right place because I will explain to you the ins, the outs, the goods and the uglies of baking cupcakes.

First of all, cupcake ingredients: flour, milk, eggs, butter (I use salted but if you want to add the salt separately be my guest and use unsalted) baking powder, sugar, vanilla extract.
These ingredients are the basics of what you will need to make cupcakes. Most of these cupcake ingredients are pretty straightforward, but I'm going to explain a few things about a few of these ingredients to you.
First I'm going to separate into dry cupcake ingredients and wet cupcake ingredients. This isn't as straightforward as you may think.

Dry Cupcake Ingredients: Wet Cupcake Ingredients:
Flour Milk
Baking Powder Eggs
Butter Vanilla Extract

You might be wondering why butter falls into the category of dry cupcake ingredients and why sugar is wet. Just accept it. In the baking world, that's how we do it. Okay, if you demand an explanation, here it is. Butter, unless melted, would be very difficult to combine with dry ingredients if it is already in with wet ingredients. So we add it to the dry cupcake ingredients first to create a sort of crumble-like texture which makes it easier to add the wet ingredients to after. To understand why sugar is a wet cupcake ingredient, first I will explain baking powder and it's properties. Baking powder is a leavening agent, which means it makes things rise. (so we don't have flattened cupcakes!) The baking powder becomes activated when it becomes wet. Baking powder makes flour rise. Sugar does not rise. For example, if you put together sugar and baking powder and added some milk, nothing would rise. When you add sugar to dry ingredients, it doesn't always distribute itself evenly. But to wet ingredients you have a better chance at having evenly distributed sugar in your cupcakes! This is due to the texture of the sugar.
Something very important about adding dry cupcake ingredients and wet cupcake ingredients - You want to add the wet to the dry and you don't want to do it all at once. The way it works is as soon as the leavening (the baking powder) gets wet, it is activated. From there the clock begins to tick. You don't want to over agitate your cupcake ingredients after you add the wet to the dry because if you overmix your cupcakes will not rise properly. The goal is to mix just enough, not too much or too little. It might take a few tries to get right, but this is very important. It's what separates the bad cupcakes from the good cupcakes. We want to treat our cupcake ingredients with respect because cupcake ingredients do not grow on trees!

I believe you now should have a good understanding of cupcake ingredients and how they work. You are almost ready to begin using your cupcake ingredients. Before I will talk about tools you need for cupcake recipes!