Cupcakes are delicious and fun to make at home. Bakers love them for their simplicity, and cake lovers love them for their size and portability. However it does take mastering a few basic tricks to make the perfect cupcakes. We met up with Buddy Valastro, owner of Carlo's Bakery and host of Cake Boss and Next Great Baker, to get his tips for making the perfect cupcake.
Add Custard Cream to Cake Batter
The perfect cake should have a spongy, tight grain to it so that it has a velvety feel in the mouth. The way Buddy gets this is by adding a little bit of custard cream to the batter. It will help your cake to achieve the desired consistency and stay moist.
Oven Temperature Controls Shape
Depending on your vision, you may want a large, rounded dome on your cupcake, or maybe even a flat top. If you want a dome, bake your cupcakes at a higher temperature. If you want a flat top, bake them at a lower temperature (25 to 35 degrees lower). They will still cook all the way, just be shaped differently.
Add Salt to Your Icing
A touch of salt can be a great addition to sweet baked goods, but Buddy says you should add salt to the icing, not the cake itself. The salt will help balance the sweetness of icing and make for a well-rounded cupcake.
Invest in a Decorating Turntable
If you want to be serious about cake decorating, Buddy recommends buying a turntable. Turntables allow you to evenly apply icing for symmetrical, flawless designs.
Use a Decorator's Buttercream
Regular buttercream icing is made with butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. While this mixture tastes delicious, it is very difficult to decorate with. Buddy recommends using a "Decorator's Buttercream" which is made with 60% vegetable shortening and 40% butter (rather than 100% butter). Shortening holds a shape better and longer than butter.
Use Coloring Gels to Color Icing
Buddy is known for his vibrant colored icings, but he doesn't use regular liquid food coloring; he uses coloring gels. The gels are more concentrated so they help the icing to get a more saturated color.