Everyone that knows me has heard me once or twice go on a baking rant. I would like to believe one day that I will be on cupcake wars!
Today, I thought I would share some of my tips when I bake considering Pinterest ideas can sometimes be…well…disappointing.
Here are my top-ten baking tips!
1. Invest in your equipment- I know the cheap little kits at Wal-Mart are great for 5 year olds, but not for serious baking. If you are going to bake, and do it well, you must use the right equipment. If you are going to ice cupcakes, make sure to use an icing bag, and 1cm tips. The tips that come in packages are usually too small to properly ice a cupcake. Also, if you are going to bake in a cutesy shaped pan, line it will parchment paper. The pan will eventually wear from the Pam you use to grease it.
2. Make it home-made- I am guilty of this too. When I have last-minute baking requests I run to the boxed cake mix aisle. The product will taste better if you make your own mix.
3. Avoid pre-packaged fondant- The taste of fondant in a pre-packaged container tastes like play-dough. Here is an easy recipe for marshmallow fondant that tastes better, and is easier to handle. If you must buy pre-packaged fondant, I suggest Duff Goldman’s buttercream fondant found at most Hobby Lobby’s or Michael’s retailers.
4. Never use oil- In many boxed recipes, oil is recommended as one of the added ingrediants. DONT DO IT. Oil makes your cake greasy, and gives the cake an unpleasant texture. Instead, substitute butter at the same measurement listed for oil.
5. Choose the correct icing- Vanilla icing does not pair nicely with everything. If you are going to ice a cake, or cupcake, make sure you research icing flavors that pair well with your cake flavor. Red Velvet pairs wit cream cheese, Chocolate pairs well with peanut butter, or chocolate icing, Italian Cream requires a certain buttercream icing, etc. etc.
6. Don’t over-bake- This drives me nuts. Cupcakes are meant to be soft, and fluffy. If I bite into a cupcake that is grainy, it ruins the experience. I would first bake at 10 minutes, then periodically check the cake with a toothpick in 3 minute intervals from there. When the cake particles stick to the toothpick, you are good to go.
7. Cool cake before icing- If you are going to take the time to bake the cake perfectly, then you need to be patient enough to give the icing the same attention. If the cake is even the slightest bit warm the icing will melt, and make a gooey mess. Try refrigerating your cake for half an hour before icing. The icing will then rest nicely on top of the cake, and spread easier.
8. Always use cupcake liner- If you spray the cupcake pan with Pam, and then pour the mix you are asking for a cake disaster. Cupcake liners make taking your cupcakes out of the pan that much easier. Also, this avoids your cake tasting like a greasy mess from the leftover Pam.
9. Decorate accordingly- There is a difference between baking for a party, and baking for a bake sale. Depending on where the goods are going, make sure the decorations are appropriate. Sprinkles would seem a bit immature for a business party, so try adding fruit as a topper instead! Not all cupcakes have to be cute, they can be classy too!
10. Don’t rely heavily on Pinterest recipes- Yes, I love the idea of a Watermelon Cupcake recipe on Pinterest, but be reasonable with your skills. Many of the cupcakes posted on Pinterest are made by professionals. If you seriously don’t know what cream of tartar is, then the recipe is out of your league. Avoid an inevitable failed baking project (and loss of good money) and focus on what you CAN do. Sometimes, simple is better. If you MUST have a recipe to go by, refer to Food Network, or Martha Stewart recipes. These references have step by step instructions that anyone can go by, even beginners.
Hope this helps, and Happy Baking!