Fluffy Cupcakes? Serious Research

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I have been wanting to try out this tip, from Kelly Neil, but I haven’t had a reason to bake a full batch of cupcakes until this week.

There’s a play date in the house– Holla!

O.Em.Gee.  The things you say when you are a real adult and you’ve stopped caring about what the cool kids might think of you.  Love it.

Anyway, play dates = lots o’ kiddies and moms coming over to hang out, and what’s better than playing and chatting than playing and chatting AND eating?

Enter the opportunity to bake cupcakes.  And try another recipe that I’ll give feedback on soon.  Promise.

Anyway, the cupcakes.

The recipe is complicated.  About as complicated as opening a box and reading a few sentences.

Yes, I used boxed mixes, and I’m not ashamed.  Anyway, I followed the directions on the box. Then I set up my experiment: Two identical cupcake trays, lined with identical cupcake liners.  The mix ended up making 18 cupcakes, so I set up my trays to each have 9 cupcakes. I wanted to have as few variables in this process as possible.

For my control tray, I continued following the directions on the box.  I filled the cups 2/3 of the way and baked them at 350 degrees for 21 minutes (the recommended time was 18-22 minutes). Here’s what they looked like when they were done baking.

For my test (variable) tray, I followed the tip on Kelly Neil’s blog.  I filled the cups 3/4 of the way, and although I preheated the oven to 350, I turned the oven down to 325 once I put the cupcakes in, and increased the baking time to 25 minutes. Here’s what the test batch looked like when it was done baking.

And here’s what they look like side by side.

<----Control Variable--->

<--- Control Variable--->

And the view from above:

<--- Control Variable --->

What do you think?

Well, the cupcakes cooked at the lower temperature (the variable) were lighter, and indeed, they were larger, but that makes sense: they were 3/4 full as opposed to 2/3 full.  They were also a *touch* higher, but nothing amazing.  However, they were lighter in color, which I liked, and, a big squishier to the touch.

I let them sit overnight, unfrosted, using another trick that I found.  This trick was from Baked Bree, which is a great cooking blog with lots of pin worthy stuff.  Did you know that if you set a piece of bread on your baked goods if you leave them out at night, they’ll stay moist?

I’m here to tell you, it works.  Pretty awesome. When I woke up, the slices of bread were hard and stale, but the cupcakes were just as moist and springy as when they came out of the oven.  This is a keeper.  If you bake cakes the night before, and want to leave them out to cool before you decorate them the next day, just toss a piece of bread on it.  Thank you Baked Bree!

So then I frosted them.  Using the tutorial from Kristen at Decorate This.  Are you looking to pin some baking inspiration and tutorials?  Check out what Kristen has to say.  Good stuff.  Her tutorial on icing cupcakes was really easy to follow.  I used an open star tip– mainly because I only own an open star tip and a plan round tip, and I just happened to grab the open star first.  I did my best to do what Kristen told me to do, and even with my very limited skill set, they looked alright.  I’m sure with a little more practice, I’ll get better.  I guess that gives me added incentive to host more play dates!

<---Control Variable --->

<--- Control Variable --->

For the finishing touch, I added some sprinkles and some edible decorations (there’s not enough sugar in them as is, right?) and my cupcakes ended up looking like this.   It was not as easy to tell which ones were which by the time they were frosted and decorated.

<— Control                          Variable —>

But, obviously, when it comes to food, appearances aren’t everything.  So, I taste tested them.  Took one for the team (technically, TWO for the team…), in the interest of science, of course. I ate one cupcake from the control group, and one cupcake from the variable group. And then I ate another one, using random selection, just to be sure (Three for the team?)… Well, really I ate that last one because I couldn’t fit them all on the serving platter.

The cupcakes were sweet, moist, delicious cakey goodness.  In my case (i.e., when using boxed mixes instead of a yummy homemade cupcake recipe like the amazing Kelly Neil),  it didn’t matter if they were baked at 325 for 25 minutes or 350 for 22 minutes, they were just really good.  And pretty, if I do say so myself.  Which means, well, just do what you want.  If you want to bake them at 350, go for it.  If you want to bake them at 325 for a few more minutes, knock it out.

People are still going to eat them.  For sure. The kids at the play date liked them, my kids liked them, my husband will eat anything with sugar in it, so he liked them, I pawned two off on Christopher’s friends, and at the end of the day, we didn’t have any remaining to tempt me in all of their cupcake-y glory.

So there you have it.  My Scientific Analysis of Cupcakes.  Probably more science than you cared to think about when baking cupcakes from a boxed mix!

Do you have any great baking tips to pass along?  Anything that you’ve pinned and haven’t tried out yet?

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3 responses »

  1. I’ve probably tried half of my pins with mostly good results. The funniest one was when I tried the glowing mountain dew idea and felt like a chump when it didn’t work. Turns out it was a hoax all along.

    • That doesn’t surprise me. I just got an email from a middle science teacher group that I belong to that listed links to “fake science” websites, so that members would be aware of them. There were more than 2 dozen sites!! And the thing is, they actually look legit, so if someone read them and took the info as fact without doing further investigation or research, they’d be woefully misguided, you know?! Crazy.

  2. Pingback: Staying on Track: Goal Assessment « Very Pinteresting

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