9 Amazing Tips for Baking Delicious Cupcakes

Want to make delicious cupcakes at home? Then pay heed to these amazing baking lessons and you would be able to bake delectable cupcakes in no time at all!

Cup Cake

1. Read the recipe carefully

Make sure that you read the recipe before you start making the cupcakes. Gather all the baking tools and ingredients before you actually start with the folding and baking process. This will make the whole cupcake baking process easier and simpler for you.

2. Check the Oven temperature

Make sure that you check for the oven temperature with the help of an oven thermometer to avoid any kind of fluctuations. Also, rotate the muffin tins twice during baking so that heat is evenly distributed in the muffins and avoid opening the oven door too often as this may cause heat fluctuations.

3. Check the ingredients’ dates

Make sure that your ingredients are fresh and not past their expiry date. Baking soda and baking powder should be replaced after 6 months and flour should also be replaced if not stored properly. Make sure you use good-quality, fresh ingredients when baking cupcakes.

4. Substitute carefully

Make sure that you substitute the ingredients carefully and always be prepared for unexpected results. You might try less sugar but it would affect the muffin’s taste and texture and if you substitute the dairy products then the learners might not get activated. So, careful substitution is necessary when baking.

5. Use the ingredients at the right temperature

It is essential that you use ingredients at the right temperature if you want your batter to be smooth and consistent. Cold cream whips better whereas eggs separate more easily at room temperature and sugar mixes well with other ingredients when used at room temperature to provide a fluffy texture to the mixture. So, make sure you take out the ingredients from the fridge on time before you start using them.

6. Measure the ingredients accurately

Precision is important in baking and so it is important that you add the ingredients in the right quantity. So, use sifting for taking the right amount of dry ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, and so on. For liquids, keep the measuring cup on a flat surface and then check the measurements.

7. Creaming the mixture

Creaming means mixing butter and sugar together to achieve a fluffy and light mixture. So it is always better to cream your ingredients for as long as possible even if the mixture is properly mixed. Make sure you scrape down the bowl sides several times too.

8. Folding properly

When you need to add heavier ingredients to your batter or cream mixture you need to slice it with a spatula and then move it around like an or so that the contents from the bottom of the bowl can be brought to the top. This helps in giving a consistency to the batter.

9. Cooling and storing the cupcakes

Once your cupcakes are baked and ready to be frosted, it is important that you first cool them on a cooling rack and then store them in the refrigerator to cool down so that when you do frosting on the top, it won’t get melted.

The same instructions apply while making pies also, a few minor additions that it, these are the very basic tips that every baker should know.

Banana Nutella Bread

We had two bananas from before the trip still hanging around and starting to look a bit sad so Thursday I decided to make banana bread (which is the usual fate of sad bananas in our house). But just regular banana bread wouldn’t do, I needed something more. See, it’s been a pretty hectic week on all aspects, we haven’t been home much, much less in the kitchen, and I needed something chocolate. Yep, that’s right, that’s my solution for hectic weeks. So I started thinking: should I put chocolate chips in in? Or add cocoa to the dough? Or both? Should I add nuts? And then it hit me: I should just put Nutella in it!! (To clear things right away: by Nutella I mean any chocolate-hazelnut spread, not the Nutella brand necessarily, they are all good in my opinion (I mean, it is chocolate-hazelnut that you can spread and just that in itself is wonderful). It’s like the tissues that I can’t seem to call anything else than kleenex because well, that’s just the way it is.

8750866110_fe7587cf11_b

So this is a twist on my regular banana bread recipe (which I will one day post I guess). It is pretty fabulous as you can imagine, especially if you are a Nutella fan which I am sure there are many out there (I sure know a bunch). The nutella doesn’t overpower the banana, it is pretty much banana bread but with a nuttyness and a hint of chocolate to i. It will also fill your house with a fantastic banana-chocolate-nutty smell which is exactly what I needed that night.

Banana Nutella Bread

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 soda
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup nutella
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 ripe banana, mushed
  • 2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Add all the wet ingredients and mix well so that everything is well incorporated. Put in a bread pan and bake for 1 hour.

Source : Chef In Training

Strawberry Ginger Mint Salad

There is something about late June that I just love. The official beginning of summer, the big thunderstorms, the different beat the city gets into. The green garden and dinner outside on the deck. And the strawberries that announce the local fruits and vegetables bounty that is coming our way. An yes, I know rhubarb comes first, here at least, but it still is strawberries that do it for me. It is just all very relaxing, as if now that we made it to summer I can finally slow down and enjoy. In fact it makes me a bit lazy on the dessert side as I much prefer lounging around outside with a good book than baking in a hot kitchen. So this is where this recipe comes in.

strawberry-ginge

It is of the utmost simplicity but it is very beautiful and surprising at the same time (kind of like this which caught my eye and that I have yet to try). It is something I picked up last year when my aunt made it for a BBQ. I am not sure of where she got the recipe or the quantities that were involved but this is my interpretation of it. Since the strawberries are nice and at their best, I let them shine and went subtle on the ginger and mint. But if you are a big fan of either, you can of course increase the quantities. If your strawberries are good you shouldn’t need too much sugar (just to get it together really) but if they are not too sweet I would add a tad more.

Strawberry Ginger Mint Salad

2 portions

  • 10 strawberries, sliced
  • ½ inch grated fresh ginger
  • 6-7 small mint leaves, chopped finely
  • ½ tbsp sugar

Put everything in a bowl, mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Two weeks ago, I was asked to make a birthday cake for Matt’s grandmother for her Sunday birthday lunch. I was delighted since she is the biggest chocolate fan I know (she is serious, I am not even close). I decided to go as chocolaty as I could and make a basic flour-less chocolate cake, something I have made before, sort of safe right? I fussed over it for days, insisting Matt gets “nice chocolate”, got extra butter and eggs and had it all planned out for that Saturday afternoon in order to not rush. As usual when I am baking for these type of thing I made a small “tester” version of the cake to try (and to be honest, it’s hard for me to wait – after all that work I want cake!) Unfortunately all my beautiful plans were shattered when I happily dug into my tester: for some reason, it was egg-y. Not bad but not great either. Definitely not the smooth thick chocolaty rich cake I wanted. I was not happy and despite Matt advice that it was fine, there was no way I was bringing this cake for the birthday party.

chocolate-hazelnut-tart

So I took out my stash of back-up chocolate chips and flipped through my favorite cookbooks for inspiration. I picked Laura Calder’s Chocolate Tart figuring that I couldn’t go wrong as Laura always has wonderful simple things. I made a quick trip to the corner store, had a quick dinner and got to work. I hadn’t originally planned to adapt it (as things weren’t going great at this point already) but the corner store that I went to only had one 250 ml of heavy cream left (when it’s not your night) and it set me off. While I was at it I reduced the sugar as I didn’t think it needed so much, played with the eggs and added toasted hazelnuts (since I had seen this and it has been on my mind). It turned out wonderful, rich and creamy but not overwhelmingly heavy. The hazelnut add a nice crunch to it and overall as far as chocolate go, it was very satisfying. I made it again last week-end for another chocolate lover’s birthday – my mom, Bonne fête encore maman! – and it did a great job there too. A new classic.

If you are in the Toronto area I would like to encourage you to participate and come to a bake sale to raise funds for Japan on April 9 and 10. The details are here. Big big thank you to Heena and Niya for organizing this. It is awesome and I can’t wait (to participate + get a huge stack of baked goodies).

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

1 large tart (12 in diameter)

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 4-5 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup heavy (35%) cream
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup heavy (35%) cream

Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and put them in the oven until they are browned, about 10 minutes. Remove them, let them cool and chop finely.

Reduce the temperature of your oven to 325F. In a bowl put the flour and the salt. Add the butter and pinch in until you have pieces that are the size of peas. Add the water gradually and mix until you get a ball of dough. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, put it in the pie pan and bake for 15 minutes until golden.

While the pie crust is baking, put the ¾ cream and the milk in a small pan and heat to a boil. Put the chocolate chips in a bowl. When the milk and cream starts to boil, pour over the chocolate chips and stir well until they melt. Add the egg and the sugar and stir them in well. Once the pie crust is done, pour the chocolate mixture in it and add the chopped hazelnuts. Bake at 325F for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool completely.

When the tart is cooled, make the ganache to go on top. Put the ½ cup chocolate chips in a small bowl and the ¼ cup cream in a small pan. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir well until they melt and pour this mixture over the tart. Decorate with 3 hazelnuts or as you wish.

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

We were meeting for a family lunch last week-end and we ended up in charge of making said lunch. Matt made these pretty wonderful whole wheat dinner rolls and I made a simpler version of one of my favorite staple soup,this lentil soup, but without the pancetta and swiss chard. A nice hearty fulfilling lunch. Just a ittle off topic here: the post about this soup was my very first post, almost a year ago now. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year. Ah, how time flies and how far we have come. But enough with the reminiscing and the soup and back to these plump and golden dinner rolls here.

whole-wheat-dinner-rolls

They are pretty straightforward to make, as far as straightforward goes with bread making. We made them in the large muffin tins we have (the one that make 6 large muffins) but you can make them also in the regular muffin tins (the 12 ones kind), just split the dough in half and make 16 instead of 8 larges. The whole technique of dough folding might seem a bit odd (in fact, Matt has partly picked this up while making parathas I think) but I have to insist here: it makes all the difference in getting nice dense and fluffy rolls.

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

yields 8 rolls

  • 3 tsp sugar, divided
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 ¼ tsp yeast (or ½ package)
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ cup white flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

In a small pan, heat the milk and butter with 2 tsp of the sugar on low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar is dissolved. Set aside and let it cool until it is lukewarm. In a large bowl, add the remaining 1 tsp sugar, the yeast, and the warm water, let froth for a few minutes. Add the milk and butter mixture and the egg and whisk with the yeast. Add 1 cup of the white flour and ½ whole wheat flour and knead in. Gradually add the remaining flour, ¼ cup at a time, kneading in in between. Knead the dough for 7 minutes, put in a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm area until it doubles in size. Knock the dough down and divide it in 8 pieces. Take 1 piece, flatten in a disc in your hands, roll it up in a cylinder, take the two ends and fold each bringing them back in the middle. Put it in your hands and shape into a ball. Put the ball in a greased muffin tin and repeat with the remaining pieces. Cover with the damp tea towel and let proof until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375F, brush each roll with milk and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Blueberry Apple Hand Pies

A few weeks ago, Matt stumbled on this blueberry hand pie recipe from Lucy Waverman in the Globe and Mail and and when I started talking about some sort of pie with the dying blueberries in our fridge, we decided to give them a go. They were fantastic, obviously, but what makes them really stand out is their filling. I had never come across a filling like this before and to say that it changed my life would be excessive but it definitely changed the way I make pies and hand pies (or turnovers if you prefer to call them that) from now on.

blueberry-apple-hand-pies

It is very simple, just a few ingredients and about 15 minutes or so to make. Three quarters of the fruits are cooked with sugar until they are nice and juicy, flour is added to make the whole thing thick and gooey just like a pie filling should be, and the remaining fruits are added to give it a good texture. It’s nothing short of perfect if you ask me. And the great thing is, it can be used for many different fruits and combinations.

Blueberry Apple Hand Pies

8 hand pies

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4-5 tbsp cold water
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbps brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp flour
  • milk to brush the hand pies
  • sugar to sprinkle

Put the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and pinch in until the butter is the size of peas. Add the cold water, a little at a time and mixing it in well until the dough comes together. Refregirate while you make the filling.

Put ¾ of the blueberries and apples in a small pan. Add the brown sugar and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture is juicy. Add the flour, mix in well and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool for a few minutes and add the remaining fruits.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchemin paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut the it in half. Roll out half the dough thinly. Cut the dough in 4 squares of roughly 4 or 5 inches. Put 1 to 2 heaping tablespoon of the filling on one side without it touching the edges. Cut three small slits on the other side. Brush the edges with milk and fold the side with the slits over the side with the filling. Press down on the edges with a fork. Brush the hand pies with milk and sprinkle some sugar over them. Transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with the other half of the dough. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes until they are golden.