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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What makes a good Cupcake?






I kind of consider myself a bit of a cupcake connoisseur, Having said that, now I can dissect the humble and ever so popular little cake we know as The Cupcake.

Cupcakes generally consist of 3 parts, The cake, the icing and the garnish. For Cupcake wars fans we all know that cupcakes can also consist of a fourth part... a filling. Cupcakes with fillings are not classic cupcakes so we will leave that topic for another day.

The cake portion of a cupcake is no different then the batter in regular cakes. Any cake batter can be scooped into individual paper liners and baked to create a cupcake. Granted some batters lend themselves better to cakes over cupcakes but it is really a matter of taste. I am personally a fan of a buttermilk or a creamed butter batter for vanilla based cupcakes and I prefer a buttermilk or devils food chocolate batter for my chocolate cupcakes. I find that chocolate batters that begin with creaming your butter and sugar don't usually end up being very dark and rich in chocolate flavour, and there is nothing worse than biting into a cupcake that looks like chocolate but tastes like chalk.

Once your batter of choice is in the oven baking be very careful to not OVER BAKE. Cupcakes usually bake for 18 to 25 minutes depending on the batter and your oven of course. Having a cupcake in the oven for over 30 minutes is usually not OK. One exception may be when you cake batter includes fresh or frozen fruit inside. They tend to need a bit more time to bake.

Now that your cupcakes are perfectly baked and cooled. Its time to ice. Classically a cupcake has some kind of frosting on it. In the past few years years as the cupcake has gained popularity so has the variations to what we choose to ice them with. Now a days cupcake can be topped with frosting, buttercreams (either American, Italian or Swiss) Ganaches, meringue, cream cheese based icings, flavoured whip cream, etc. Whatever you choose, keep it all natural and please for the love of god, butter only folks.

Now for the fun and final part.. the garnish. I hear many heated things about sprinkles at the shop, generally kids can't get enough and adults don't mind if you leave them off. Personally I love them. I think cupcakes would be boring without them but I most certainly understand why some people would rather not have them adorne their cupcakes. Some purists don't want anything getting in the way of the smooth creamy texture of the cupcake and on the same note some people like the contrast in texture that sprinkles bring to the table. Again, personal taste.

Lastly, a cupcake should be eaten with your hands, but I understand the need for a fork sometimes. So I don't judge on this point.

P.S. Men are regular buyers of cupcakes at our shop. At times they are just picking them up for a party or for us girls, but occasionally they are buying them to enjoy with a cup of coffee and a fork. Don't Judge.