Cupcakes are fun and easy confections that are enjoyed by all ages. Although cupcakes are essentially the same thing as cake, something about their small size, individual servings and frosted tops make them seem a lot more special. These cakes in a cup are particularly fun for kids to get in on because of their ease of preparation and limitless creative possibilities. Here’s how to bake cupcakes with frosting.

Choosing a Flavor

The flavor of cupcakes you make depends on the occasion and who they’re for. Common flavors like chocolate and vanilla are popular and easy to work with. They’re good with all kinds of frosting flavors and can easily have other ingredients added to them. However, there are also many exotic cakes types to use. Try red velvet or pumpkin cake batters for fall celebrations, black forest for Christmastime and banana, strawberry or lemon for spring.

From Scratch or a Box?

You can use any commercially available cake mix to make your cupcakes from, and there’s quite a few options to choose from. Usually, the only additional ingredients you need to buy for a mix are eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Boxed cake mixes are popular among people who find themselves too short on time to cook from scratch.

However, if you’ve got the extra time and the inclination, you’re encouraged to try making cupcakes from scratch. Homemade desserts are always tastier and more satisfying to eat, plus friends and family will appreciate them more knowing that your hard work and personal touch went into them. In addition, baking things from scratch gives you better control over what goes into the recipe and allows you to make it healthier. This is especially important if you suffer from food allergies or intolerances. Here’s a basic yellow cake recipe that can be easily modified or built upon.

What You’ll Need

In addition to a cake pan and some utensils, you’ll need:

1 cup of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of sugar
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup of milk or water
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of flour, the finer the better
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Baking Your Cupcakes

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, salt and any other dry ingredients you want to add, such as cocoa or nuts. Be sure to break up any clumps in the baking powder as this can result in a bite of cupcake with an unpleasant surprise inside. In another, smaller bowl, whip together your butter and sugar. In any pastry recipe that uses butter and sugar, creaming together the two ingredients makes the texture lighter, richer and more moist.

After the butter and sugar are adequately mixed, add the egg yolks, milk or water and the vanilla extract. Things like melted baking chocolate, fruit and liquid flavorings should be added in this step. Pour the blended wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ones and mix everything until it’s smooth. It’s normal to have some lumps.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a muffin tin and enough paper or foil cupcake wrappers for each cup, usually nine to 12. Spoon some of the cupcake batter into each cup, filling them about two-thirds of the way. If you have any batter left over, it can be used to make a delicious pancake, although some people like to eat the remainder straight from the bowl. It makes a great appetizer during the 20 to 25 minute wait.

When they’re done, you can expedite the cooling process by lifting the cupcakes from the pan and placing them on a wire rack. Once they’re completely cool, you can cover them with your choice of frosting. Never frost cupcakes while they’re still warm because this will either cause the frosting to melt everywhere, or it will take on an unpleasant crusty texture.

Baking cupcakes with frosting is one of the best ways to have your cake and eat it, too. These whimsical little finger foods tantalize and delight both the smallest child and the oldest adult. By following these simple instructions and helpful tips, you can make the perfect cupcakes for all occasions.

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