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5 Cupcake Do’s And Don’ts For Amateur Bakers

Associate Editor Candice showing off our hard work. The only thing left to do was eat!

I’ve always been a bit of a spaz in the kitchen but I really love baked goods—a true conundrum. When the opportunity to sign up for a cupcake class through Classtivity popped up a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to improve my skills. The course, Cupcakes Unlimited, was taught at The Institute of Culinary Education by a veteran pastry chef; and lucky for me, associate editor Candice came along to help! 

As baking newbies, we were a little out of our element amongst the professional-grade kitchen equipment, and I can’t deny there were some cupcake casualties. That’s why next time I tackle the mixer, I’ll be keeping these tips in mind:

1. Do Read the Entire Recipe Before Starting: It seems obvious, but if you’re in a hurry to get baking like we were, you may overlook important details like the order you should be mixing your ingredients. It’s best to gather all your measured ingredients ahead of time and then assess each step before you jump in.

2. Don’t Overfill Your Cups: The most professional looking cupcakes fill the paper cups without spilling over into “muffin top” territory. A small/medium ice cream scoop is about the right size, and ensures all your cupcakes are uniformly shaped—a factor that’s mainly important if you choose to share your treats with others (totally not necessary but nice.)

Brownie Chip Cupcakes, frosted to varying degrees of unsuccess. Luckily, they all still tasted delicious.

3. Do Use the Correct Mixer Attachment: Who knew using a paddle attachment instead of a whisk attachment could make such a difference? Skilled bakers do (and, as mentioned above, skilled bakers we are not). They can completely change the texture of your batter and frosting, so read the directions! Candice and I made the mistake of using the wrong one and ended up with a soupy mess instead of fluffy frosting. 

4. Don’t Feel You Have To Use Frosting: I’m a sugar junkie so frosting is actually my favorite part of any cupcake. But some are so good on their own, you don’t even need the decoration. A bunch of the cakes we made throughout the four-hour class (Brownie Chip Cupcakes, yum!) were so decadent, they were lovely on their own.

5. Don’t Get Too Fancy With The Decorations: At least to start, that is. Keep the frosting simple instead of trying to do too much. You can see the results of some of my and Candice’s attempts above. The ones that were most successful used less frosting and less technique.

—Lorelei

Want more great classes you can take in New York City? Check out this flower arranging course.

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