The 5 Best (and cheapest!) Resources to GROW Your Home Bakery Business

The 5 Best (and cheapest!) Resources to GROW Your Home Bakery Business

The 5 Best (and cheapest!) Resources to Grow Your Home Bakery Business


Honestly, I should have written this post AGES ago!

In this post I’ll share the BEST resources I’ve come across that have actually helped my Home Bakery to GROW. This post is ideal for you if you’ve already started your business and want to GROW it into a part-time or full-time gig.

Over the past few years I’ve been sharing these resources with bakers in emails when they ASKED for it. But it somehow never occurred to me that there are probably thousands of home bakers who have these questions too, but never ask them.

Questions like:

>> “I know my baking tastes really good, but I’m struggling to get clients consistently! How do I get more clients & sales?”

>> “I’ve had a few sales! I feel very excited, but I also feel totally overwhelmed… What am I supposed to do next to grow my business?”

>> “I’m working 24/7, but I’m barely making enough money to cover my expenses. What am I doing wrong? How do I grow my income?

 

This post is here to answer such questions and point you to resources that will help you to reach Home Bakery Success FASTER.

Please note: This post has affiliate links. This means that if you purchase some of these products I get a tiny commission – but at NO extra cost to you. I’m super proud to recommend these resources to you because they’ve completely transformed my Home Bakery Business!

1. Pricing Calculation System

This is probably the most important part of a baking business, but home bakers often don’t realize how serious this is.

You can have the best website in the world and be the best baker in the world – that doesn’t guarantee a successful Home Bakery.

Even if you can have the best recipes in town and have a massive client base… Even if you’re fully booked for months in advance it does NOT guarantee a successful Home Bakery!

We bakers often forget that a baking business is in fact a BUSINESS.

It’s super easy for us to get wrapped up in the BAKING part of it, but a successful Home Bakery is actually only 30% great baking and 70% great BUSINESS strategy.

That’s why large commercial bakeries with average baking are so successful. They KNOW that their BUSINESS strategy matters more than double as much as the quality of their baking!

They may score low on their baking quality, but they’ve got their business strategy down! They’re great business people and therefor their companies thrive.

I’ve told you all of this as an intro to the ONE most important business strategy tip you need.

Here’s my top tip: Businesses need MONEY to stay alive.

It’s not about being greedy at all. Just like plants need water to stay healthy and grow, businesses need money to stay healthy and grow.

If your Home Bakery doesn’t make enough money, it’s going to die. Simple as that. It’s a fact.

Yes, it’s super forward of me to say this so straight. And honestly I wish someone told me things so straight when I first started out!

The MAIN source of income you have is selling your baked goods. That’s where the money is at and it’s VITAL to your success that this part of your business functions properly!

If you undercharge for your baked goods or give all your family’s orders to them for free, you’ll need to address this as soon as possible.

Remember, your business needs money to stay healthy and grow.

If you struggle with undercharging and pricing in general you can check out this blog post >> 6 Steps for Pricing Your Baked Goods with Confidence.

You can also get my Pricing Calculator when you subscribe to my FREE Resource Library! It’s a super nifty PDF file that calculates the recommended selling price FOR you based on your ingredient costs, time spent, etc.

When you have your pricing system in place, your business will make the money it’s supposed to make.

When you price correctly you’re setting your Home Bakery up for growth and success!

2. Marketing for Beginners

Some of the best advice I can offer you is to start educating yourself on MARKETING as soon as possible!

The best products don’t get the most sales. The best MARKETING gets the most sales!

Marketing is ALL about learning how to make strangers realize that YOUR baked goods are exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Bakers tend to view business in a very outdated way. I did too at first!

They believe that there are 2 things you need to do to build a successful Home Bakery Business; bake great treats and advertise them. This strategy may have worked in the 80’s, but it’s not enough anymore!

I’m sure you’ve been experiencing this reality first hand and that’s why you’re here looking for answers.

Down that path the inevitable happens… We believe we just need to “bake great treats and advertise them” but no matter how hard we try, we just DON’T get more clients and sales.

It sucks!

And we start assuming that the reason why it’s not working is because we:

A] Aren’t “good enough” bakers or
B] Aren’t spending enough money on advertising.

This is TOTAL GARBAGE my friend. You’re a victim of totally outdated information!

First of all I want to tell you that businesses don’t struggle because their products aren’t good enough. They also don’t struggle because they don’t advertise enough. And they definitely don’t struggle because they don’t spend “enough money” on advertising.

Want to hear a shocking fact?

For 4 whole years I didn’t need to spend a single cent on advertising and my Home Bakery was fully booked every month! And it’s all because of this ONE thing – Effective Marketing.

Truth is that if you’re not getting clients you have a marketing problem. NOT an advertising problem.

Advertising and marketing isn’t the same thing.

Here’s the difference between Advertising and Marketing:

Marketing is about all the things you do to ATTRACT people to your business.

When you understand marketing and apply it effectively to your business you’re essentially turning your biz into a high-intensity MAGNET that attracts your ideal clients to you on autopilot.

Advertising on the other hand is like deep sea fishing… You go OUT and hope to find clients. It’s stressful. It’s risky. And most of all it gets expensive very fast! I’m sure you’ve felt that with your advertising efforts!

The honest truth: My Home Bakery has been fully booked 98% of the time (sometimes for 3 months in advance) with ZERO advertising.

When I started out in 2013 I DID TRY advertising and I didn’t get any business from it whatsoever! But investing my time in learning about MARKETING has made all the difference in my business.

And the great news is that marketing doesn’t need to be this super expensive mission to learn! It’s actually super cheap and effective to learn from books! That’s what I did and it works 🙂

You don’t need to go to an expensive university to understand marketing. YOU have the power to take control of your education.

I picked up my first ever marketing book I highly recommend that you start with the book just after my baking biz lost a HUGE client and hence 70% of my income – overnight!

I picked up a book (thanks to my legit husband), studied it, applied everything I learned, and a year later my Home Bakery was booked solid for 3 months in advance.

This book is a fantastic introduction to marketing in a small business and it’s called The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. It changed everything in my Home Bakery!

Get it as soon as you can. Read a bit of it every day. Apply what you learn and I promise you – your Home Bakery Business WILL grow.

3. An Effective Website

As a home baker I totally get how daunting it seems to set up a website!

But the website building world has CHANGED drastically in the past few years. Don’t be scared off by the technological aspect of website building my friend. It’s really not a big deal at all.

Since I built my first, super embarrassing website back in 2012; some amazing, USER FRIENDLY software has been developed to help non-techies like us to build beautiful websites in no time!

But before we get to the “how?” of building a website, it’s essential that we cover the “why?”.

Why do you need a Website?

A] It’s professional:

Home Bakeries are all about approachability and connection. But when it comes to your website, it’s the one place you really need to be super professional.

According to a survey done by CNBC, a staggering 45% of small businesses don’t have a website!

And the fact of the matter is that today’s consumers LIVE online – so you need to be online to reach them.

Having a website communicates to clients that you take your Home Bakery very seriously and that you take them and their needs seriously as well.

If you don’t have a website, there will also be confusion over your availability to bake for them. If you only have, say a Facebook page, it may seem to them that your Home Bakery is just a casual thing you do for friends and family.

Having a website communicates to people that you mean business!

And lastly, to be honest, NOT having a website in this online era will ONLY damage your business’s perceived value.

The very first thing people do when they are interested in a business is to check out their website.

The last thing you want is for someone to be interested in your bakes, but then dismiss your home bakery as sub-standard because you don’t have a website.

Think of a website as your 21st century business card.

Have you ever been in a conversation where you tell people about your baking biz and then they love it so much that they ask for your business card, but then you don’t have one?

It’s such a sucky and embarrassing feeling isn’t it?!

Well, NOT having a website is the 21st Century equivalent of that!

You absolutely need a website to get business and sales to grow your business.

 

B] A Website Increases your Business’s credibility & reach:

As soon as your business has a website, it’s seen as a LEGIT business. It’s like having an online office/shop address.

A Website provides an opportunity for SEO (Search engine optimisation). This sounds complicated, but it’s really simple. SEO is about strategies that websites use to communicate to Google that you are a high quality bakery in your town/city/suburb.

This makes it easier for NEW potential clients to find your business on Google search which means more sales and profit for you!

Without a website, Google unfortunately and literally can’t recommend you to people searching for bakeries online.

 

C] A Website is an Opportunity to Exhibit What You Do:

See your website as a portfolio of what VALUE your Home Bakery has to offer.

If you fail to communicate online WHAT exactly it is that you do and how people can benefit from that, you are losing out on sales – BIG TIME.

Your home bakery essentially has a “job interview” with every single client that’s considering to order from you. And not having a website is like not even showing up for your job interview! Shocking!

 

D] A Website Saves You Time:

It does take some time to set up a website in the beginning, but it’s the most valuable time investment you’ll ever make.

On a website you can put ALL the details about your business and services out there for clients to see. It brings them up to speed with your business workings.

This means that you won’t spend hours answering the same questions over and over again every time someone wants to order from you.

Questions like: Do you bake for weekends? How many people does your 9 inch cake serve? Is there corn flour in your gluten free bakes? Do you deliver?

Prospective clients usually check out your website first before they will actually order from you. If they can find all the answers to their questions on your website, that means clearer communication for them and less work for you.

Even if your home bakery is just starting out as a part time venture, build a website as soon as possible. I built mine when I was just baking once a week! And it has been a backbone of success in my business.

 

HOW to Build a Website:

If you haven’t built a website yet, I strongly urge you to use Wix. They make it SO EASY to create a website – for free!

My very first website was on Wix, but my cousin offered to help me build me a website on WordPress because she knew WordPress very well. When I became more serious about my blog I bought a super expensive WordPress theme that has helped my blogging endeavours in particular.

But if I had to choose a platform for my HOME BAKERY’S website today, I’d absolutely choose WIX. I bought that ridiculously expensive WordPress theme because I was ignorant – to be honest.

I had no idea that Wix had become so incredible.

Squarespace is nice as well, but Wix’s free website themes & templates are better in my honest opinion and Wix is WAY more user friendly and cheaper than Squarespace.

Wix has this very nifty “Wix ADI” which is built in software that creates a whole website FOR YOU based on the information you provide! So awesome!

What’s also great about Wix is that they have a built in SEO program. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. When your SEO is good, then Google will give you a higher ranking which increases your chances of being seen when people Google bakeries in your town/city.

SEO usually takes a lot of time & effort and it’s a steep learning curve to master it. Knowing that Wix takes care of all that will preserve your sanity.

So, my friend, even if you are technologically challenged, you will be able to get the results you want without breaking a sweat.

Another wonderful perk is that lifetime technical support is included! This means they have a team of people online 24/7 to assist you if you get stuck during the website building process.

Click here to start building your website on Wix. With their amazing templates you could be DONE creating your website in like 4 hours max!

And here’s a YouTube tutorial to help you build your Wix website.

4. Build a Story Brand for Your Home Bakery Business

For the first 5 years in my Home Bakery Business I always positioned my Home Bakery to “impress people”. I thought that’s what you need to do to get people’s attention. You need to IMPRESS them.

Maybe you feel that way right now in your business?

But people don’t buy because they’re impressed.

They buy when they clearly (and quickly) see that you UNDERSTAND their problems and can help them to overcome those problems.

Here’s the most shocking truth of why businesses fail: They position themselves as the hero of the story. They make the story all about them and how amazing their company is.

But meanwhile all clients are only interested in ONE story – their OWN story!

Here’s a practical example:

We all tend to think we are Daniel LaRusso at the end of the Karate Kid movie.

On our social media and websites we parade around with our trophy trying to show people “Look! My home bakery it legit! Look at the delicious things I make! Look at the list of organic ingredients I use! Come over here and read my life story that’s all about me!”

I did this too. It’s how we all start out and there’s no shame in that because it’s what we see so many other businesses do.

But if you want your Home Bakery Business to GROW, you’re going to need to start to approach your business’ story DIFFERENTLY.

Truth is, my dear friend, we are NOT the hero of the story.

YOUR CLIENT is the hero.

Your business’ story is about guiding your client to success.

You’re Mr Miyagi!! You are the GUIDE, not the hero.

A successful business is the one guiding Daniel (your client) and helping him to overcome his problems and reach success.

When your business is all about YOU, it won’t attract new clients.

But when your business starts to revolve around your clients’ success, they start flocking to you automatically!

Believe it or not this is just ONE of the SEVEN steps that Donald Miller teaches you in his best-selling book – Building a StoryBrand.

When I started positioning my Home Bakery Business as the GUIDE and the client as the hero, things in my biz totally transformed!

Building a StoryBrand is THE BEST book on Marketing I’ve ever read. Period.

The strategies in this book are a bit more advanced though. This book will only be beneficial to you once you’ve already got a website and have worked through the book The $100 Startup already.

Building a StoryBrand has changed my life! You can also check out their podcast which is free and incredible >> Building a StoryBrand Podcast. But start at EPISODE 1! Don’t skip ahead and miss all the gold!

5. Curated Home Bakery Business Training

I’ve shared a lot of valuable resources with you in this post.

Personally I had to digest all these resources and at least 100 others – I’m talking more books, endless podcast episodes, expensive online courses and more.

Then I had to spend years TESTING & TWEAKING all this info to see what works specifically for a Home Bakery and what doesn’t.

I’ve already gone through this effort, so that means you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself! I’d like to invite you to my next free Home Bakery Masterclass where I’ll share my top Home Bakery Business Secrets with you.

Click the button below to join the wait list for my next FREE Home Bakery Masterclass.

That’s it for this post 🙂 I hope that you’ve enjoyed discovering what resources I’ve used to get my Home Bakery Business to where it is today!

Dive in and take control of your own education. Apply everything you learn and I guarantee you that your Baking Business WILL GROW.

Cheerio

Aurelia

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)

How to Bake Perfectly Flat Cake Layers

How to Bake Perfectly Flat Cake Layers

How to Bake Perfectly Flat Cake Layers

I used to think that perfectly flat cake layers are only within the grasp of PRO bakers. When I started out baking, I loved baking cupcakes a whole lot more than baking layered cakes.

The simple reason behind this is that I wanted to avoid all the waste. You know how it goes… We need to trim off that ugly dome off our cake layers to make them level and then I obviously don’t throw the off-cuts away…

I hate wasting, so I eat all of it…

Shameless Aurelia.

Shameless.

As much as I enjoyed stuffing my face with cake, I couldn’t keep this up. Neither could my jeans!

Beyond the desire for perfectly level cake layers, there was another problem. The cake was moist in the center, but quite dry around the edges.

This had to be fixed. Cupcakes bake a lot quicker than large cake layers, so they aren’t in the oven for very long. Large cakes however, obviously need to spend a lot more time in the oven.

By the time the center is cooked, the outer edge has been cooked for the past 25 minutes and is now overcooked.

Level cake layers can be BAKED that way. NO need to trim or waste with this amazing baking hack! Bake level cake layers easily.

Credit is due:

I did some research and found a great  post on the issue of baking level cake! A Cozy Kitchen wrote this amazing post on baking flat cake layers. It was tremendously helpful!

I’ve refined the technique quite a bit though, because as you know I do not believe all cake recipes can be baked the same way. If you don’t know what I mean, take a look at How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Advanced Tips.

Please note: This post has affiliate links. This means that if you purchase some of these products I get a tiny commission – but at NO extra cost to you. I’m super proud to recommend these resources to you because they’ve completely transformed my Home Bakery Business!

 

Before we get started:

So once again there is a basic technique for baking level cake layers (as with baking Perfect Cupakes), but it needs to be adapted according to your recipe. In my experience cake recipes can be divided into 3 different categories (due to how they respond in the oven). This definitely does not include cakes like Angel Food Cake which is a whole different ballgame.

  1. Butter Based Recipes
  2. Oil Based Recipes
  3. Recipes containing fresh fruit/vegetables

Here is a picture of how I divide my oven. You will need this later.

oven for perfect cupcakes

Greasing the tin:

I always line the bottom of my tin with high quality non-stick parchment/baking paper. It makes removing the cake a total breeze! Simply place the base of your cake tin on the paper, trace a circle and cut it out.

Lining the sides of the tin with parchment paper is just too tedious for me. I love using non-stick spray! Feel free to use butter or oil if you desire.

 

Basic technique for baking flat cake layers:

Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen uses moist towel strips, fastened around the tin with safety pins. Her hypothesis is that “What’s happening here is that the moisture from towel is helping the cake bake more evenly, resulting in an even rise and a cake with a flat top.”

I think the moisture definitely plays a role, but in my opinion the damp towel keeps the sides of the tin cooler, so that the batter in direct contact with the sides of the tin doesn’t cook so fast. This gives the cake batter around the edge a bigger window of time to rise.

Of course you can also buy Wilton Bake-Even Strips online! They’re like a formal version of this wet-towel-strips-method and save you the drama of cutting up a towel (that your Mother may or may not have given you…)

  1. Measure the height of your tin.
  2. Get a clean, new-ish hand towel. Not a scrap one you used to clean the floor with.
  3. Cut off strips of towel as wide as the height of your tin and long enough to wrap around your tin. It’s totally fine if the towel is going to end up overlapping around the tin. Rather don’t cut off the edges of the towel, this helps keep the strip intact.
  4. Place the towel strips in some water and squeeze them about till they are evenly wet. Wring out the water.
  5. Grease and line your cake tin.
  6. Fasten the wet towel strips around the tin.
  7. Pour in batter, level it out and bake.

My first change was to fasten the towel strips around the tin with paperclips instead of safety pins. It was very difficult to get the towel strips tightly wrapped around the tin. It was even more challenging to make them stay in position with safety pins as these allow room for movement.

The first time was a disaster! The towel kept sagging down on the sides of the tin, but I did see a slight improvement in the levelness of the cake. Second time around I used paperclips and I’ve never looked back.

 

Adapting the technique:

Butter based recipes:

Butter based cake recipes respond extremely well to this technique! Be sure to squeeze and wring out your towel strips as well as you possibly can. If they are too wet, the sides of your cakes can even rise higher than the middle! Be sure to level out your batter with a spatula before baking. There is no need to spread the batter higher up the sides or anything.

  • Bake the cake on oven rack A at 180˚C
  • Gently rotate your pans halfway through baking.

 

Oil based recipes:

The wetter, the better for this category. Lightly squeeze the towel strips so that they are just past dripping point. Grease and line the tin as usual and pour in your batter.

Swirl the pan around slowly so that the batter coats about 1 cm of the tin’s edge above the batter’s normal resting level.

Shake the pan a little bit so that the main batter returns to its neutral resting level. Do this just before you place the cakes in the oven.

  • To bake the cake, preheat your oven to 170˚C.
  • Place a clean, empty roasting tray on rack A.
  • Place your cake tins on rack B.
  • Pour about 1/2 cup water in the bottom of the oven.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes.
  • Rotate the pans and pour ½ cup water in the bottom of the oven. Continue to bake on rack B for a further 20 minutes.
  • Remove the roasting tray on rack A and move your cakes from rack B to rack A. Rotate your cakes again at this point as well.
  • Continue to bake until done.

 

Recipes containing Fresh Fruit/Vegetables:

Curiously these batters respond somewhere in between the butter and oil categories. The fresh fruit/vegetables naturally release a lot of moisture as they bake as well which helps in the level cake baking process.

Still, it does help to have a towel strips very wet (squeezed out just past dripping point) for this category as well.

Grease and line the tin as usual and fasten the wet towel strips around your tins. Pour in the cake batter. Swirl the pan around slowly so that the batter coats about 1 cm of the tin’s edge above the batter’s normal resting level.

Shake the pan a little bit so that the main batter returns to its neutral resting level. Do this just before you place the cakes in the oven.

  • To bake the cake, preheat your oven to 170˚C.
  • Place your cake tins on rack A.
  • Continue to bake on rack A until done, rotating the pans every 15 minutes.

level cake layers

Final Notes:

When baking 7 inch cakes and smaller, I’ve found that a hand towel’s absorption powers are too great. For small cakes I use DISH towel strips instead – they work perfectly! OR if you bake different sized cakes, it’s really worth it to get the Wilton Bake Even Strips Set for 6 inch, 8 inch, 10 inch and 12 inch tins.

Although this hack is the most amazing game changer in baking a level cake, you’ll still need to trim off tiny bits here and there – but it’ll be minimal. Oil based cakes especially still rise with a slight dome, but they are about 80% more level than before!

And you also won’t need to trim the sides of your cake ever again. The wet towel strips ensure the oven stays moist and keeps the edges from baking too quickly. Your level cake layers will have a beautifully moist crumb from edge to center 🙂 Yay!

This technique has changed my life! Give it a try and let me know what your results are.

Chat soon!

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Advanced Tips

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Advanced Tips

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Advanced Tips


Perfect Cupcakes are a science! In my previous post I covered all the
basic errors that often occur when baking cupcakes.

Some of these errors include pointy cupcakes, overflowing cupcakes, shrinking cupcakes, etc. If you want to know the science behind these occurrences, click here.

I’m particularly excited for today’s post! It will be the first time I’m disclosing my top secret tips for baking EXCEPTIONALLY PERFECT cupcakes!

Error-free cupcakes are already a massive achievement, but over time I’ve discovered methods (some normal and some quite unorthodox) that have significantly improved the texture and quality of my cupcakes.

So with a cheerful and excited heart I am sharing this information with you 🙂 May there be myriads of perfect cupcakes baked across the world through these cupcake baking tips!

Please also share your thoughts below, if something is not making sense.

 

All Cupcakes are NOT Created Equal

There are obviously many posts on “How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes”. I will definitely share those tips as well. Some tips do apply to all cupcakes and are good methods to implement across the board.

I have found, however, that all cupcakes cannot be approached in the same way.

Butter based recipes respond completely differently to oil based recipes. If you want to bake perfect cupcakes, it is important to take note of this.

how to bake perfect cupcakes 1

Through nearly 4 years of full time home baking, I’ve come to understand that cupcake recipes can be divided into 3 separate categories.

  • Butter based Recipes

  • Oil Based Recipes

  • Recipes containing fresh fruit/vegetables

These 3 recipe categories respond vastly differently to the environment in an oven. They cannot all simply be baked in “the center of the oven”.

 

My Baking Equipment

Although I am a full time baker, I do not do the industrial oven thing. I bake from home in my own itty-bitty kitchen because I LOVE being at home!

Most people are shocked when they see the size of my oven and kitchen, but I am really just so happy and content baking here 🙂

I tried working in an industrial kitchen… ONCE. We went through a lot of effort to move everything into the new kitchen. Everything was all set up and ready to go.

The huge convection oven was there waiting for me in the corner of the large kitchen… The idea of baking 6 pans of brownies all in one go was overwhelmingly exciting!

3 hours later I was in tears. My cupcakes were pointy. My brownies had no shiny crust. I had come to hate that convection oven in just 20 minutes! Singlehandedly, I loaded the car (I’m very little and weak), drove back home and started all over again with my orders for the next day.

I don’t have a fancy mixer. I have an old Kenwood standing mixer I got from my dear mother-in-law. The model is from the 80’s I think, but it works brilliantly!

  • My oven is just a standard electric Defy Oven with a 4-plate stove on top (you will see a picture of it later).
  • The previous flat we lived in had a standard built in electric oven.
  • At one point we were living with my cousins, their oven was also just a standard electric oven.
  • As a student I baked at my boyfriend’s house in their standard built in electric oven.

These methods for perfect cupcakes worked in all 4 of these ovens!

Gas ovens are a bit tricky though. You will find that you might not be able to apply some of these methods. Take what you can use and comment below if there’s a particular struggle you experience with cupcake baking.

RELATED: 14 Tools You Need to Start a Home Bakery

 

Methods that Apply to All

I’ve read through most articles online that cover the topic at hand. There are quite a few tips that appear on all of them.

Here’s a summary for Cupcake Baking Tips that do apply to all recipes (I’ve included my own as well). These tips do make a difference in the quality of your cupcakes.

1. Bring ingredients to Room Temperature:

This is a very important tip. Ingredients just combine better if they are all the same temperature.

Butter can take quite long to come to room temperature – especially in winter! I usually end up putting the butter in the microwave on the “defrost” setting for 15 seconds at a time if it is still not soft enough to cream.

Eggs should never be stored in the fridge in my opinion. Keep them away from direct sunlight, in a cool area. Buy smaller amounts of eggs at a time at more regular intervals. This ensures that your eggs will always be fresh and not need to be stored in the fridge.

If you do insist on keeping your eggs in the fridge, take them out the night before you plan to bake. This gives them ample time to come to room temperature.

Shortcut: put your eggs in a bowl of warm water for half an hour to bring them up to room temperature faster!

 

2. Use top quality ingredients:

What you put in, you will get out. Use free range eggs, real butter and good quality vanilla extract.

Image by nutritionsecrets.com

 

3. Don’t over-mix:

Some recipes require you to beat the batter for 2 minutes, others only until the ingredients are just combined. Just be sure to follow the instructions given in your recipe. Over-mixing directly damages the rise and texture of your cupcakes.

 

4. Oven Temperature:

Preheat your oven till the exact temperature before putting the cupcakes in the oven. Gas ovens tend to slip up on accuracy – hang an extra thermometer in your oven to be sure.

 

5. Consistent accuracy in filling cupcakes:

If you want to bake perfect cupcakes, you can’t just eye-ball when distributing the batter. Some insist that using an ice cream scoop full of batter in each liner will give you perfect cupcakes. This still leaves some room for error in my opinion.

It might be overkill, but weigh the batter you put in each case till your eyes can tell the difference. If it’s a more liquid batter, you can use a measuring cup as well.

Do yourself a favour and invest in a digital scale! They are affordable and so convenient! I have a small A5 size scale.

You can place your entire cupcake pan on top of the scale, “zero” it, and weigh each amount of batter that goes directly into each liner.

Images by bhg.com and rachelteodoro.com Images by bhg.com and rachelteodoro.com[/caption]

Here’s what I do:

  • I make sure to remember the weight of my mixing bowl (or write it down).
  • Then I weigh the mixing bowl with the batter.
  • Subtract the weight of the bowl plus an extra 5 g for the batter that sticks to the bowl and spoons.
  • Divide that amount by the amount of cupcakes your recipe makes.
  • Place the lined cupcake tin on the scale and weigh the batter out cup for cup.
  • Bit of a mission, but it gives me perfect cupcakes, so it’s actually a small sacrifice!

 

6. Proper greasing:

Even though I use cupcake liners, I also grease the top rim of each cupcake hole in the tin. This makes it easier to loosen the edges of the cupcake that did come into contact with the pan.

 

7. Don’t over-bake:

Don’t go shower and wash your hair while you are baking cupcakes! Give a peek through the glass every now and then to check on them. Once you can see there is no more shiny batter in the centre of each cupcake, wait for another minute and then test them.

You do want the testing pin to be clean, but do be careful not to leave the cupcakes in there for too long.

 

8. Turn or Burn?:

I do turn my cupcakes halfway through baking. Always. The odds of them deflating through doing this are really small. Obviously you shouldn’t do this with a soufflé! With cupcakes I think it is essential for an even bake.

All domestic ovens I have baked in tend to be hotter in the back left corner for some reason, so I insist on turning the cupcakes.

Rotate your cupcake pan with care. If you handle the pans gently, they will be just fine. Don’t bang it down on the counter; treat the pan like a sleeping infant.

 

9. Accurate measuring and weighing:

Weigh anything that is not liquid! This is my motto. I weigh my baking powder and baking soda while sifting the dry ingredients together.

Seriously 1 little gram does make a difference! Think about how dangerous measuring is. Some folks scoop out a compacted teaspoon of baking powder, while others pour it out of a refill pack. There is just too much room for error.

Write down on each recipe the exact weight of baking powder you use so that you will know for the next time you make that recipe and get consistent results. Also stick to one brand! All of them differ, even if it is just slightly.

I always WEIGH the amount of egg I use. Crack it in a cup, whisk it lightly with a fork and then weigh the exact amount of grams you put in.

If the cupcakes come out perfect, make a note on your recipe of the weight of egg you used, so that you’ll know how much to use when you make the recipe again.

If you feel the cake needed a bit more egg, make a note of that too. Weighing the amount of egg I use has made all the difference in my baking.

 

10. Fill, but don’t spill:

This may seem obvious, but I’m mentioning it anyway. Be patient when filling your cupcake liners with batter.

Rather scoop smaller amounts at a time (right into the center of each liner) to avoid spilling. Batter can easily end up between the liner and the tin. This will result in messy edges on your cupcakes! It can even let your cupcakes rise lopsided.

dont spill perfect cupcakes

Advanced Tips for Baking Perfect Cupcakes:

As mentioned before, I have come to see that cupcake recipes can be divided into 3 separate categories.

1. Butter based Recipes

2. Oil based Recipes

3. Recipes containing fresh fruit/vegetables

These 3 recipe categories respond vastly differently to the environment in an oven. I will discuss each category separately.

Most importantly: I do not agree that all cupcakes should be baked in the center of your oven. In fact, I do not think ANY cupcakes besides Vanilla Cupcakes should be baked in the center of your oven.

Step one is to divide your oven cavity into 3 equal parts using 2 oven racks, like this.

oven for perfect cupcakes

Let’s number the upper oven rack as Oven Rack A and the lower one as Oven Rack B. This is the basis of everything I do. You will understand why a bit later. This arrangement is THE FRAME WITHIN WHICH ALL MY METHODS ARE APPLIED.

1. Butter Based Recipes:

I do prefer the creaming method, but I find that standing mixers incorporate a bit too much air. Light cupcakes are fantastic, but if they are too light, they are very difficult to handle and little edges often end up breaking off.

For this reason I prefer to use a hand-held electric whisk. When baking large cakes, a standing mixer is perfect for mixing a butter based batter.

Mixing Batter & Filling Cases:

Add dry ingredients to bowl as instructed. Beat on low speed for 10 seconds to get most of the ingredients combined. Stop the hand mixer.

Take care to scrape around the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure all the butter gets incorporated into the batter. Resume beating on medium speed for a further max 10-12 seconds.

Remember, little lumps are not evil! They will disappear during baking. Your batter does not have to be smooth!

Obviously there shouldn’t be large lumps of flour. Squash a few of the lumps out with a spoon to check if they are solid dry flour or a harmless bit of batter that just appears lumpy.

After dividing the batter into the lined tin (aluminum preferably!), it is important to smooth out the batter before baking.

Smooth out the surface of the batter in each hole with a teaspoon. Push the batter up slightly against the edges of the wrapper. I find this helps the cupcakes get an even start in their rising process once in the oven.

perfect cupcakes smooth

Baking:

  • Butter based Cupcakes bake best on Oven Rack A (or in the center of your oven) at 180˚C.
  • The cupcakes deeper in the oven will rise faster than those in front. About 8 minutes in, you will need to rotate the cupcakes 180 degrees. Do not take the cupcakes out of the oven to do this. Gently rotate the pan in the oven.
  • Once you can see there is no more shiny batter in the center of each cupcake, wait for another minute and then test them. You do want the testing pin to be clean. Butter based cupcakes tend to sink if they are under-baked.
  • When they are done baking, there might be slight variations in size. To fix this is super easy, but it has to be done immediately when the cupcakes exit the oven. You only have a 1 minute window to do this before the cupcakes start firming up. Wipe a butter knife on some butter so it has a very light coating of butter to prevent the cupcake from sticking to the knife. Gently push in edges of the cupcakes that are not perfect according to your liking. Tada! Perfect Cupcakes!

perfect cupcakes post bake

  • Allow them to cool for about 7 minutes in the tin before transferring them to a rack to cool further.

2. Oil based recipes:

This is where it gets weird. When I started baking more seriously in 2012, I still baked 2 trays of cupcakes at the same time. This saves time and electricity of course!

When it came to the Red Velvet Cupcakes, the cupcakes from Oven Rack A turned out vastly different from Oven Rack B.

The cupcakes from Rack B were so beautifully smooth on top and had a very slight dome – perfect cupcakes! The cupcakes on rack A were a bit cracked, did not rise as well as the cupcakes on rack B, and were a little too pointy.

I realized that this phenomenon couldn’t have anything to do with the batter as the same batter was used for both cupcake trays. The secret HAD to be in the baking.

Baking:

Over time I developed this technique:

Even though your recipe may say “Bake in the center of your oven at 180˚C”, don’t do it. Try this baking method for your oil-based recipes like Red Velvet and Chocolate.

  • Preheat your oven to 170˚C.
  • Place a clean and empty roasting tray on rack A.
  • Place your cupcakes on rack B.
  • Pour about 1/2 cup water (boiling or not, doesn’t matter) in the bottom of the oven. Truthfully, I cannot even remember how I ended up doing this in the first place, but it really helps the cupcakes rise so much better and keeps them super moist! (DON’T TRY THIS with BUTTER BASED RECIPES. The cupcakes end up overflowing and come out too soft and fragile.)
  • Turn halfway through baking.
  • They are usually done baking when there is no shininess left in the center of the cupcakes – which you can see through the glass door.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool in tins for about 7 mins, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Once again, if there is an edge that didn’t come out perfectly round, don’t panic! You can push it in slightly, while the cupcakes are still hot and slightly malleable, with a butter-wiped-knife. Tada! Perfect Cupcakes!
  • Another handy tip (applies to Fresh Fruit/Vegetable Recipes as well): Just before you pop your cupcakes in the oven, drag the batter right up the sides of the liner all the way around. This not only gives your liner an even appearance on the outside, but also helps your cupcakes to rise evenly. Don’t do this too early or the batter on the sides will dry out and actually cause your cupcakes to rise poorly.

up sides perfect cupcakes

3. Recipes containing fresh fruit/vegetables:

This includes recipes like Carrot Cake, Zucchini Chocolate Cake and German Apple Cake. You probably know that these recipes end up releasing a lot more moisture during baking. The fresh fruit/vegetables release liquid as they bake.

Mixing Batter & Filling Cases:

The biggest tip for making perfect cupcakes from these batters is in the dividing of the batter between your cupcake cases – for 2 reasons:

1.       These recipes contain lots of bits. Carrot Cake, for example, can contain grated carrot, raisins, nuts and crushed pineapple! If you fill your cupcakes fully from cupcake 1 down to cupcake 12, the last cupcake often ends up with 1 nut, 1 raisin and a whole lot of batter. The rise is also drastically affected. The last cupcake will rise beautifully, or even too much, while poor cupcake number 1 is an under risen lump of carrot and raisins.

2.       Sugar and salt draw out liquid from fresh fruit & vegetables. The longer your batter stands, the more liquid it will become. If you fill your cupcakes fully from cupcake 1 down to cupcake 12, the last cupcake will get batter with a higher liquid content compared to cupcake 1.

To solve these problems, fill all your cupcakes halfway first, from cupcake 1 to cupcake 12. Make sure each one gets a helping of all the bits in the batter.

At this point it is important to give your batter a fold or two, just to distribute the additional fruit/vegetable liquid that has been released.

Then distribute the batter again, going from cupcake 12 to cupcake 1. This method gives me the most consistently perfect cupcakes.

Another handy tip: Just before you pop your cupcakes in the oven, drag the batter right up the sides of the liner all the way around. This not only gives your liner an even appearance on the outside, but also helps your cupcakes to rise evenly.

Don’t do this too early or the batter on the sides will dry out and actually cause your cupcakes to rise poorly. *See image above for this tip.

Baking:

  • I find Oven Rack A at 180˚C to be best for baking these recipes. No rocket science in the baking here.
  • Turn halfway through baking.
  • They are usually done baking when they have an even colour on top. If the center of the cupcake is lighter in colour, they are probably not done yet.
  • When done, remove from the oven and leave to cool in tins for about 7 mins, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Once again, if there is an edge that didn’t come out perfectly round, don’t panic! You can push it in slightly, while the cupcakes are still hot and slightly malleable, with a butter-wiped-knife.

cupcakes | perfect cupcakes | bake cupcakes tips | baking tips and tricks |

A shout out to all these lovely posts on how to bake perfect cupcakes! These were the most helpful and accurate ones 🙂

“Cupcakes 101: 10 Tips to bake the perfect cupcake” (This is my favourite one),  “5 Steps to Perfect Cupcakes”, “10 Tips for making Perfect Cupcakes”, “How to Make Perfect Cupcakes”, “Top tips for Baking Better Cupcakes”, “10 Tips for Baking a Perfect Cupcake”

Gosh, this post was quite intense!! I need a drink… dark hot chocolate… Made with cream… With a cinnamon doughnut on the side… yes please!

I really hope you find this helpful. These tips have transformed the quality of my cupcakes forever. I trust they’ll do the same for you!

 

Want Perfect Cupcake Recipes?

Today’s your lucky day because I’m giving you my Home Bakery’s 3 most popular, perfected Cupcake Recipes for FREE! I’ve spent 7 years perfecting these recipes and have baked and sold literally THOUSANDS of these cupcakes.

  1. Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes Recipejoin the free Resource Library for Home Bakers to get the recipe.
  2. Ultimate Carrot Cupcakes Recipeclick here get the recipe on my blog.
  3. Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes Recipeclick here get the recipe on my blog.


Chat soon!

Aurelia 🙂

POPULAR BAKING TIPS

Don't throw out your split chocolate ganache! You can save it and make is 100% smooth & shiny! :D Click through for all the tips you need to fix and prevent split/oily/grainy chocolate ganache. #chocolateganache #splitganache #bakingtips #bakingtipsandtricks
Want to get that thin, super shiny crust on top of your brownies? Great news is, you don't need to drop your favourite brownie recipe in search of a shiny-top brownie recipe! You can use this simple baking tip to get a shiny crust on ANY brownie recipe that contains dairy and sugar! Click through to get the step by step method for baking brownies with a shiny crust on top... #baking #bakingtips #brownies #homebaking #bakingtipsandtricks

POPULAR POSTS

How much income is your home bakery missing out on every month because you keep undercharging for your baking? It shouldn't be this way! You deserve to be paid well for your hard work! In this post you'll learn how to stop feeling guilty for charging customers full price. Then you'll get step-by-step tips for raising your prices so you can start earning more income from your home baking :) #homebakery #homebakerypricing #cakebusiness #homebakingbusiness
Struggling to find time for yourself and your family in your home bakery business? These AMAZING time management tips from a 6+ years full-time home baker are exactly what you need! Learn how to use what you've got to get your baking done faster. Learn how to prioritize and plan effectively so you are in charge of your schedule, make a great profit, and don't burn out in the process! #homebaking #homebakery #athomebakery #cakebusiness #cupcakebusiness
How do you price home baking? What if you charge too little for your home baking and don't make enough income? What if your home baking's prices are too high and no customers want to buy from you? In this post you'll learn how to do your baked goods pricing the RIGHT way, so you can make more profit and even turn home baking into your career! #homebakery #bakerypricing #bakingbusiness #cakebusiness

Do you dream of starting a home bakery, but then thoughts of self-doubt like these start flooding your mind… “People aren’t going to think my baking is worth it. All the other bakers are better than me. I’m not good enough.” Truth is pretty much ALL home bakers get these thoughts! You’re not alone! In this post you’ll learn how to beat self doubt so you can be free to pursue your baking business goals. Click through to get the tips now… #homebaking #selfdoubt #homebakery #bakingbusiness #baking

POPULAR BAKING TIPS

Don't throw out your split chocolate ganache! You can save it and make is 100% smooth & shiny! :D Click through for all the tips you need to fix and prevent split/oily/grainy chocolate ganache. #chocolateganache #splitganache #bakingtips #bakingtipsandtricks
Want to get that thin, super shiny crust on top of your brownies? Great news is, you don't need to drop your favourite brownie recipe in search of a shiny-top brownie recipe! You can use this simple baking tip to get a shiny crust on ANY brownie recipe that contains dairy and sugar! Click through to get the step by step method for baking brownies with a shiny crust on top... #baking #bakingtips #brownies #homebaking #bakingtipsandtricks

POPULAR POSTS

How much income is your home bakery missing out on every month because you keep undercharging for your baking? It shouldn't be this way! You deserve to be paid well for your hard work! In this post you'll learn how to stop feeling guilty for charging customers full price. Then you'll get step-by-step tips for raising your prices so you can start earning more income from your home baking :) #homebakery #homebakerypricing #cakebusiness #homebakingbusiness
Struggling to find time for yourself and your family in your home bakery business? These AMAZING time management tips from a 6+ years full-time home baker are exactly what you need! Learn how to use what you've got to get your baking done faster. Learn how to prioritize and plan effectively so you are in charge of your schedule, make a great profit, and don't burn out in the process! #homebaking #homebakery #athomebakery #cakebusiness #cupcakebusiness
How do you price home baking? What if you charge too little for your home baking and don't make enough income? What if your home baking's prices are too high and no customers want to buy from you? In this post you'll learn how to do your baked goods pricing the RIGHT way, so you can make more profit and even turn home baking into your career! #homebakery #bakerypricing #bakingbusiness #cakebusiness

Do you dream of starting a home bakery, but then thoughts of self-doubt like these start flooding your mind… “People aren’t going to think my baking is worth it. All the other bakers are better than me. I’m not good enough.” Truth is pretty much ALL home bakers get these thoughts! You’re not alone! In this post you’ll learn how to beat self doubt so you can be free to pursue your baking business goals. Click through to get the tips now… #homebaking #selfdoubt #homebakery #bakingbusiness #baking

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Full Cupcake Troubleshooting

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Full Cupcake Troubleshooting

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Full Cupcake Troubleshooting

Cupcake Troubleshooting is a science – but it’s TOTALLY worth it to get stuck into the nitty-gritty details of baking perfect cupcakes!

Nothing is really quite as perfect as a perfect cupcake. Perfect cookies are cool… But there’s something about achieving perfection in something as delicate as a cupcake!

They tend to expose every shortcoming you may have in your baking skills… Which is why we end up covering them in too much frosting so that you cannot see the bad bake underneath.

Every home baker knows that chocolate, frosting, fresh berries and sprinkles cover a multitude of sins!

My journey with baking perfect cupcakes has been nearly as intense as perfecting the shiny brownie crust.

There are quite a few helpful articles on the internet, but it really came down to baking cupcakes 1000 times over to figure everything out.

Once again, supplying cupcakes to restaurants and coffee shops has given me ample opportunity to experiment! So grateful!

Here is a FULL cupcake troubleshooting guide that will help you to better understand your cupcake dramas.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting (Common Cupcake Errors):

Discover the 15 mistakes that are ruining your cupcakes plus solutions to easily fix all of these problems. Learn how to Bake PERFECT cupcakes EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. #perfectcupcakes #cupcakes #cupcaketips #bakingtips

I have to start with a cupcake troubleshooting list before I share my extra methods. Oh gosh, the list is long and we all know how horribly disappointing these results are! 

I’ll add some of my own thoughts on each point and provide my favourite links that discuss these topics in more detail.

In my NEXT POST I share my more Advanced, Secret Tips I use to make my cupcakes exceptional, not just error-free!

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem A: 

Cupcakes rise with a pointy top:

Image by The Cooks Academy Blog

1. Your Oven is too Hot

NEVER EVER bake your cupcakes on the thermofan or convection oven setting! EVER! The fan pushes hot air around in the oven, but makes the environment too intense for the batter to handle.

The outer edges of the cupcakes bake too fast, crisp up and stop rising very quickly while the center still keeps rising and ends up pushing through the top of your cupcakes – pointy!

The worst pointy cupcake episode I ever had was when I baked my cupcakes in a convection oven. I cried.

Another reason is over-beating your batter. Make sure you follow the instructions of your recipe. Make sure you added in all the ingredients as directed so that you don’t need to mix in an ingredient after the wet and dry ingredients have been combined.

Certain cake recipes do require extensive beating once all the ingredients have been combined. Just be sure to stick to the required beating time of your particular recipe.

Best link – “How to Get your Cupcakes Flat on Top” by HubPages.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem B: 

Cupcakes shrink/sink after baking:

Image by restingdough.com

Ah man this is a frustrating one!

Your cupcakes look perfect when they come out the oven (they seem slightly smaller, but that’s normal right?). Then, within the next 3 minutes, they shrink into puny little things and the texture is also way too dense. Why does this happen?!

It’s happened to me 7 times, for 6 different reasons:

2. The cupcakes were under baked:

Perfect cupcakes are obviously not over-baked, but it really is important for them to be baked properly. I’ve found that it’s quite ideal if one or 2 moist crumbs stick to the bottom of the skewer after testing. Then you have a perfect bake.

There should never be any traces of batter glued to the skewer. Also be sure to insert the skewer all the way to the bottom of the cupcakes, not just to the centre.

If the batter has not cooked and formed a proper structure, it will sag down (and in) once out of the oven.

3. Over-beating the batter:

Over-beating your batter overworks the gluten, making it tough and less likely to rise. Another analogy is that you are beating in too much air which will then escape once your cupcakes are out of the oven, causing them to shrink.

4. Self-raising flour fail / Old baking powder:

It is a handy ingredient yes, but not always so trustworthy in my experience. In summer I make the most amazing Passion Fruit & Raspberry cupcakes. They had come out perfectly every time before this one particular day.

I always bought the best Self-rising flour our country has to offer. This one day they shrunk into oblivion!

I made them again – same result. Then I made them yet again, but this time using flour and baking powder – perfect cupcakes!

Since that fateful day I’ve swapped self-rising flour for all-purpose flour and baking powder. Just use 2t baking powder per 160g (1 cup) Flour. Perfect!

5. Poor quality sugar:

I did not see this one coming. Sugar is sugar, right?

Turns out it’s not.

Our grocery store had this tower of sugar with bright red “sale” signs all over – of course I was going to buy it! It was a brand I had never seen or heard of before, but come on! It’s on SALE! I bought a few… Little did she know…

The poor cupcakes shrunk to about half their original size in just 2 minutes after exiting the oven. I made them again with a trusted brand of sugar – perfect cupcakes! We ended up using the poor quality sugar in our tea and coffee.

Perfect Cupcakes are a science! It really came down to baking cupcakes 1000 times over to figure everything out. Click through to learn how to bake PERFECT cupcakes every single time. #perfectcupcakes #cupcakes #cupcaketips #bakingtips

6. Too much sugar:

It was purely just a lack of focus that revealed this error. My mind was occupied with a lot of stuff…

Towards the end of mixing my batter I could not remember if I had added the sugar… It’s important to note that this recipe contained 3 different types of sugar. White, demerara and golden syrup, so I couldn’t just taste it and figure it out.

I wasn’t sure if I had added the white sugar. What to do?

So the cake would be a tad too sweet if I might be adding extra, big deal.

Shrinking cupcakes are a big deal though. And shrink they did. Be sure to focus, follow your recipe and don’t add extra sugar!

7. Too much egg:

Eggs vary in sizes. I generally get quite upset when a recipe doesn’t specify what size egg you should use.

Too much egg WILL shrink your cupcakes.

Once I added about 1,5 times the amount of egg the batter specified because I didn’t want to waste half an egg. In the end I wasted a batch of cupcakes instead!

I always WEIGH the amount of egg I use.

Crack it in a cup, whisk it lightly with a fork and then weigh the exact amount of grams you put in. If the cupcakes come out perfect, make a note on your recipe of the weight of egg you used, so that you’ll know how much to use when you make the recipe again.

If you feel the cake needed a bit more egg, make a note of that too. Weighing the amount of egg I use has made all the difference in my baking.

If this bit of effort gives me perfect cupcakes, I’m more than happy to do it.

Are you willing to sacrifice one minute of extra effort for perfect cupcakes? If you think about it that way, it’s totally worth it 🙂

8. Important notes on liquidy batters:

If your batter has a high liquid content, shrinking will occur after baking. The liquid produces a lot of steam. This steam puffs up the cupcake, but will evaporate after baking and your cupcakes will shrink.

Most amazing chocolate cupcake recipes call for boiling water, which is totally fine. I always just add about 1/5 less water than the recipe states – just in case!

Best link – “5 Ways to Keep your Cakes from Sinking” by Always Order Dessert.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem C: 

Cupcakes Overflow:

First you get excited because you can see your cupcakes are rising so well in the oven. How delightful! “These are going to be my most perfect cupcakes ever!” you think out loud.

Then they continue to rise… upwards and then outwards! Wait, Stop! Nooo!

So, what causes this?

9. Too much Leavening Agent:

More often than not, the reason is too much baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. Especially with bicarbonate of soda. “Soda spreads, powder puffs” Kitchen Conundrums always says.

I always weigh my baking powder and baking soda while sifting the dry ingredients together. Seriously 1 little gram does make a difference!

Think about how dangerous measuring is. Some folks scoop out a compacted teaspoon of baking powder, while others pour it out of a refill pack. There is just too much room for error.

Write down on each recipe the exact weight of baking powder you use so that you will know for the next time you make that recipe and get consistent results. Also stick to one brand! All of them differ, even if it is just slightly.

10. Overfilling your cupcakes:

If you see there is a bit too much batter, rather bake half a cupcake extra. Rather have one little manky one (which serves as your sneaky treat anyway) and 11 perfect cupcakes as opposed to 11 overflown cupcakes.

11. Oven temperature is too low:

Preheat your oven till the exact temperature before putting the cupcakes in the oven. If the temperature is too low, the outer batter will take longer to cook, extending the cupcakes’ rising phase beyond normal.

Consider buying an additional thermometer to hang inside your oven. Oven thermostats are not always that accurate. An additional thermometer is a MUST for a gas oven.

12. Too much acidity:

I once tried out a lemon cupcake recipe which called for lemon juice in the batter. I made a batch with lemon juice and one without. The batch with lemon juice completely overflowed.

Acidity can also act as a rising agent. Think of traditional Red Velvet Cake. The vinegar, along with the bicarbonate of soda, makes the cake rise.

Best link – “Basics and Troubleshooting” by Cupcake Blog.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem D: 

Cupcakes bake out in weird little overflowing limbs:

Image by maisoncupcake.com[/caption]

1. Oven temperature is too hot:

If your oven temperature is too hot, the outer layer of batter will bake and harden too quickly. The centre of the cupcake will still be liquid batter that needs to expand and go somewhere!

It will find the weakest spot on the cupcake and force itself out in that direction.

13. Unevenly mixed batter:

Always be careful of unevenly mixed cake batter when using a stand mixer. In fact, this can also occur when using a handheld electric beater.

Gently go around the bowl with a rubber spatula to loosen any butter and sugar that might still be stuck from the creaming phase.

Be sure to do this on the bottom of the bowl as well. Gently keep folding the batter with a rubber spatula till there are no streaks of butter left.

8. Too much leavening agent:

This can cause total overflowing (as discussed above) or sporadic overflowing in selected areas around the edges.

Best link – “Basics and Troubleshooting” by Cupcake Blog.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem D: 

Cupcake peels away from the wrapper all by itself:

Image by Jessica Harris Cake Design

This tends to happen when I bake gluten free cupcakes. I assume it is because gluten free goods contain less binding agents. In that case it makes sense that there is less binding between the cupcake and its wrapper as well.

The way I solve this is to use average quality cupcake wrappers. They have a poor non-stick ability, so they stick very well to cupcakes. With regular cupcakes this can be annoying, but with gluten free cupcakes it works perfectly!

14. Under baking your cupcakes:

With regular cupcakes it is usually due to under baking your cupcakes. When the cupcakes cool, they then shrink inwards and leave the wrapper behind.

15. Fancy Cupcake Liners:

This problem also occurs with fancy cupcake wrappers. All cupcakes will shrink at least a little bit after baking. If your wrapper is a rigid one, the shape of the cupcake will change post baking, but the wrapper will remain the same.

For this reason I really prefer fluted paper cupcake wrappers which expand and contract with the cupcake.

Best link – “Cupcake wrapper mystery – SOLVED!” by Jessica Harris Cake Design.

This concludes my FULL Cupcake Troubleshooting! Thanks for reading! If you have had any other cupcake struggles which are not discussed in this post, please share them. I’ll answer them to the best of my ability or direct you to someone who can.

 

Want Perfect Cupcake Recipes?

Today’s your lucky day because I’m giving you my 3 most popular, perfected Cupcake Recipes for FREE! I’ve spent 7 years perfecting these recipes and have baked and sold literally THOUSANDS of these cupcakes.

  1. Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes Recipejoin the free Resource Library for Home Bakers to get the recipe.
  2. Ultimate Carrot Cupcakes Recipeclick here get the recipe on my blog.
  3. Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes Recipeclick here get the recipe on my blog.

How to Bake PERFECT cupcakes every single time. Perfect Cupcakes are a science! Click through to discover the 15 mistakes that are ruining your cupcakes plus solutions to easily fix all of these problems. #perfectcupcakes #cupcakes #cupcaketips #bakingtips

I hope you enjoyed my full cupcake troubleshooting! Click here to read PART 2 of How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes. In this post I share my more advanced, secret tips I use to make my cupcakes exceptional, not just error-free!

Happy baking! Chat soon!

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)

Shiny Brownie Crust – Foolproof and Perfect!

Shiny Brownie Crust – Foolproof and Perfect!

Shiny Brownie Crust – Foolproof and Perfect!

I’ve finally cracked it! Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know to give you a shiny crust (shiny brownie skin/tops)!

I LOVE baking science and LOVE geeking out on it, but if you just want to skip the science-y stuff and jump straight to the step-by-step method, then click this button…

A BROWNIE IS NOT FULLY DRESSED WITHOUT ITS SHINY CRUST.

The texture of the brownie can be perfect, nuts can be waiting for you in every bite and the best quality chocolate can radiate its aroma, but without the thin, crackly, SHINY crust… the experience just isn’t the same 😕

Please note: This is a long post. It has been a VERY complicated and long journey to crack the science behind the Shiny Brownie Crust.

There are a myriad of my Brownie recipes that can get away with not having a crust; like my EPIC Red Velvet Brownies, but for good old classic Chocolate Brownies or The Best Ever Gluten Free Brownies, there is no where to hide!

Shiny brownie crust 1

My relationship with the humble brownie crust has been a love-hate one for sure. My husband and I can recall at least 5 different instances where I’ve shouted “I’ve finally figured out the shiny brownie crust!!”.

And then 10 more where I said very soberly No, this time I’ve REALLY figured it out! I know I’ve said this so many times before, but this time it’s really true.

As you may have guessed I then figured out, again, for the fifteenth time, that I hadn’t REALLY figured it out yet.

I was onto it, but I just didn’t get it yet…

So here is my 3 1/2 year long brownie journey condensed into one blog post. I’ve done this so that you will not suffer the same frustration, but get to experience all of the joy of a perfect shiny brownie crust!

 

How did I crack the Shiny Brownie Crust Phenomenon?

Having supplied coffee shops here in Cape Town for 5 years (Field Office, Salisburys and Eat with Emma) has given me a very generous opportunity to experiment with baking methods.

My goal is always to get each baked thingy as good as it can possibly be.

How many brownies have I baked? This is where Microsoft Excel comes in handy! And the answer is 28748 BROWNIES. Yep. That’s about 5750 brownies per year.

For a solo baker that is quite a lot I suppose. I’m sharing the numbers because I want you to see that it sometimes takes a lot of patience and perseverance to crack a baking secret.

Trial and error, trial and error (repeat).

What is amazing is that quite often you’ll discover other secrets along the way that you didn’t even bother to think about! I’ll be sharing these secret discoveries as well.

 

Which Brownie Recipe Should You Use?

The beauty of this Shiny Brownie Crust Hack is that it applies to ALL classic brownie recipes (not vegan or sugar free though) – Whether it uses cocoa powder or chocolate or both! Happy days! So, you can really just use your favourite brownie recipe.

This hack unfortunately does not work for Vegan brownies, but here is a vegan brownie recipe that does turn out with a shiny brownie crust.

I personally prefer chocolate only for gluten free brownies, but for normal brownies I love a recipe that uses both cocoa powder and chocolate in the batter itself as I find the chocolate flavour to be more intense and the texture perfectly chewy!

I LOVE CHEWY BROWNIES. I love adding chocolate chunks as well.

There are many blogs on INGREDIENT properties such as different sugars, flours, chocolate etc. This blog will not cover those topics. Click here for a useful guide on ingredient properties.

 

Breakthrough #1: Butter

Let’s pause. It is beautiful.

Moving on…

The main factor here is HEAT.

I’ve done a fair bit of internet research on how to crack the darn brownie crust and here is what some had to say about the butter:

“Melt the butter over simmering water OR in the microwave in 30 second bursts. Do not boil!”

FALSE. You want this mixture to be as warm as possible. You need the heat for a very specific reason which will be explained later. Bring the butter to boiling point in your microwave in a mixing bowl and from here on work as quick as you can.

When the butter it HOT, it dissolves the sugar much faster. And for the shiny brownie crust hack to work, you need your brownie batter to be a bit warm – preferably.

Be sure to have all your dry ingredients already sifted together, chocolate already chopped, room temperature eggs standing by.

Go ahead and melt the butter in the microwave for 3 minutes until it boils. It is not necessary to do it in 30 second bursts.

The heat of the butter made a huge difference, BUT to my frustration this did not work 100% of the time. In winter especially, the shiny brownie crust would take a vacation.

This new discovery was great, but I was still missing something.

 

Breakthrough #2: Ratio of Ingredients

My ratio is:

Butter Sugar Dry ingredients Eggs
400g 600g 400g 4 Jumbo eggs (240g without shell)
1 1.5 1 1

This ratio is more for the purpose of optimal texture AKA fudgy, gooey, chewy perfection! I use a combination of Treacle sugar and white sugar. The treacle sugar adds a lovely earthy note and also chewiness – yum!

 

Breakthrough #3: Whipping/Beating

I found this information from Brownie Chronicles:

“Whether brownies have a crust on top depends on how much you beat the batter after the eggs are added. The more you beat, the more crust you get. If you beat vigorously with a mixer, you can get a dramatic crust. 

Depending on how much you beat, this crust can be barely noticeable or a crisp, shiny crust that is totally puffed, and separated above the cake or brownie. It is also usually lighter in color. The color and shine are especially noticeable on brownies.

“This is a meringue-like crust and is actually caused by a “meringue.”  Your beating of the batter after the eggs are added creates it. This seems not to be widely known even among chocolate experts.

I tried this. It didn’t work. No shiny brownie crust. I was depressed.

Brownie chronicles should have the answer right? I did however find that beating the batter improves the brownie texture massively!

From then on I have always beaten my batter with the paddle attachment on medium – low speed for 3 minutes. You’d think it makes the brownies tough, but it seriously doesn’t! It just adds a glorious chewiness – you’ve got to try it at least once!

shiny brownie crust texture

Beating by hand plays no role. Unless you want impressive guns. Beating the eggs and sugar separately for 3-5 minutes before folding in the remaining ingredients (http://www.handletheheat.com/ultimate-brownie-guide/) creates a “crust”, but it is not always shiny.

Very often it is dull, but just a lighter colour than the rest of the brownie below the surface.

Some recipes with beating the eggs and sugar separately, do deliver a shiny crust, BUT the texture is NOT chewyI want both if that’s possible. Shiny brownie crust AND chewiness.

I do not beat the eggs and sugar separately, but I beat the mixture right at the end when all the ingredients are in the bowl. This does not deliver a shiny crust at all, but I do it because it improves the texture of my brownies.

 

Breakthrough #4: Eggs

The crust is definitely influenced by the amount and type of egg in the recipe.

You can achieve a brownie crust with a normal amount of eggs – you don’t need to add more or less eggs. The amount of eggs I use is mainly for the optimum texture.

Although, I’ve noticed that it helps the crust along if my total egg in the recipe contains more EGG WHITE. 

Let’s say my recipe uses 130 g of egg; then I’ll use about 100 g of whole egg and top up the remaining 30 g with egg white. Not beaten or anything, just plain egg white out of the shell.

Too much egg will result in a very spongy brownie. Too little and the brownie is too dense and solid. 

Another myth is that you have to add them in one by one. Not necessary. I add them all in one go and mix on low speed for 10 seconds until they are roughly incorporated.

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Breakthrough #5: Sugar

Here’s where things get interesting.

According to Hackaday’s shiny brownies post, the shiny crust is determined by how well you dissolve the sugar in your brownies AND how much sugar you use.

This is definitely true.

But the problem comes in if you DON’T want a brownie that’s SUPER sweet. Personally it’s a bit disappointing to me that I HAVE to use loads of sugar to get a shiny brownie crust.

Don’t get me wrong, I think sugar is wonderful. But I want the overall flavour of my brownies to be CHOCOLATY, not overwhelming sweetness.

So, with my method you get to create a shiny brownie crust without compromising the flavour of your brownies.

Of course, in ALL baking it’s good to dissolve your sugar – although it doesn’t need to be dissolved completely with my method.

Just dunk all your sugar into your melted butter in one go. Then mix on low speed for about 1 minute – the sugar should be sticky and glue-y when you lift up the paddle.

But if your recipe specifies to beat the eggs and sugar together for 5 minutes, then please do that.

 

Breakthrough #6: Chocolate vs. Cocoa Powder

When I first started making brownies as a side-hustle in university, I used a recipe with mounds of chocolate.

Problem is that I had a horrible oven (university dorm kitchens!), an even worse stove and no understanding of chocolate seizing.

They were still amazing though! I sold them during my years as architecture student to raise money for the university’s charity program – Jool/Rag. This recipe used the eggs & sugar whipping technique. A shiny brownie crust did appear from time to time.

I thought it might be worth a go to try a recipe that uses cocoa powder. I took the first one I found in a magazine which happened to be a yummy one! I decided to make it my new “go to” recipe as the chewiness of the brownies was just amazing!

I’ve modified the recipe drastically over the years. One addition to the recipe was Milk Chocolate chunks and hazelnuts. I loved the idea of chocolate chunks (dark and milk separately) and hazelnuts that provide flavour as well as more exciting textures!

What puzzled me was that sometimes there was this ridiculously awesome shiny brownie crust on top and other times not even a trace of it! I did not understand. I made an effort to mix it EXACTLY the same way as I did before, but different results came forth with very inconsistent frequency.

I also did not believe that it could be Chocolate that makes the big difference because my gluten free brownies have ONLY DARK CHOCOLATE and also didn’t develop a shiny brownie crust.

 

Breakthrough #7: MILK Chocolate

So it happened one fine day in the second month of 2015 that someone ordered brownies without any nuts due to an allergy.

This meant my dear hazelnut milk chocolate had to be left out this time and so did other chocolate because most of them are “manufactured in a factory that uses nuts”.

Now up until this point I had believed that the whipping caused the shiny brownie crust (even though the success rate was 70/30, which was the most consistent theory I had found anyway).

Even Kitchen Conundrums said this too and I really have a high regard for everything they say! Their lemon meringue video is amazing!!

I did everything the way I always do it… Melt the butter to boiling point in the microwave. Quickly add the white sugar and treacle sugar. Mix in the eggs all at once. Add the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed till incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Beat on medium speed for exactly 3.5 minutes. Bake at 180°C for exactly 37 minutes, turning after 15. And then…

NO crust.

This time, however, my inward fit of frustration only lasted 10 seconds as I had realized what has been happening all along…

The reason why it often worked when the butter was boiling hot, was because there was heat. The fully mixed batter had enough heat to melt something that is sensitive to temperature…

The reason why it often worked to let the moody brownies rest before baking, was because there was more time available for something specific to happen.

The reason why the crust took a vacation in winter, was not because it fancied the Bahamas. The drastic drop in temperature hindered a scientific reaction.

Milk chocolate. MELTED milk chocolate. In the nut free version, there was no milk chocolate present. The heat of the batter couldn’t melt it no matter how long it stood “resting” because well, it wasn’t there. I had left out the Hazelnut Milk Chocolate due to allergies.

I had another experiment.

This time I chopped as little as 20g of milk chocolate. I sprinkled it on top of the batter, left it for a minute and spread the slightly melted chocolate into the top layer of brownie batter…

shiny brownie crust method

Eureka. HELLO SHINY BROWNIE CRUST!!

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Now there happens to be a lovely trick you can apply during winter months… the hairdryer! Tada! Sprinkle finely chopped milk chocolate over the surface, apply heat until chocolate is melted, spread into the top of the batter.

PERFECT SHINY BROWNIE CRUST. EVERY. TIME.

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Try it out and let me know if you are pleased with the results!

I’ve tried this with my gluten free brownies as well which don’t contain any cocoa powder. I’ve had the same successful shiny brownie crust for 6 glorious months now on ANY brownie recipe!

WE’VE FOUND NEMO!!

I’ve been tempted to stop here, but the journey is not yet fully complete. Continue to read if you are a scientist like me! I still wanted to understand and know what specific ingredient name I had to frame in my home!

WHAT ingredient is it that causes the shiny brownie crust for Pete’s sake?!

So my experiment took me a little further. I approached my favourite chocolaterie, CocoaFair (Cape Town, South Africa) and asked for their expertise on Milk Chocolate.

There are 2 ingredients that feature in Milk Chocolate, but not in Dark Chocolate.

Milk powder (Milk solids) and Soy Lecithin. I obtained some Soy Lecithin and Milk Powder from my dear chocolate friends at CocoaFair!

This week I made 3 last batches to settle the argument of the shiny brownie crust once and for all.

  1. Normal brownie batter + milk powder.
  2. Normal brownie batter + soy lecithin.
  3. Normal brownie batter + milk powder + soy lecithin.

milk & soy test

Thus, it is the COMBINATION OF SOY LECITHIN AND MILK SOLIDS that creates the shiny brownie crust. Wow! I dissolved the soy lecithin granules and milk powder in water (left it standing for one hour).

shiny brownie crust smear

I thought it might be a good idea to smear at least part of the surface with a spatula so that the structure of the top layer had been realigned – another one of my theories. It turned out to be another key to a shiny brownie crust!

To Clarify The Shiny Brownie Crust Method:

  1. Make your favourite brownie recipe as usual, but make sure the melted butter is boiling hot. Add the sugar and mix it for at least 1 minute so it dissolves a bit . It should be sticky, glue-y and cling to your spoon or paddle beater.
  2. Mix in the eggs and dry ingredients. Move quickly so your batter stays WARM. If your batter gets cold, your crust will be compromised. Pour the batter into the tin and level it out with a spatula.
  3. Chop about 20 g of MILK chocolate finely (don’t use anything higher than 38% Milk Chocolate. Dark chocolate doesn’t work! You need the dairy & sugar in the milk chocolate. If you’re making blondies, use white chocolate). Sprinkle on the surface of your brownie batter in the tin.
  4. Apply heat to the top to melt the milk chocolate. In summertime you can leave it in the sun for 40 seconds – 1 minute. In winter, use a hairdryer to melt the finely chopped chocolate on the surface.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, smear the melted milk chocolate into the top of the brownie batter in even, long strokes. Be sure to smear all of it in and not leave any chocolate streaks!
  6. Bake in the top third of your oven for the time your recipe states. (Don’t add anything else to the oven while the brownies are baking. Moisture in the oven will stop the shiny crust from forming.)
  7. Voila! Perfect Shiny Brownie Crust! Enjoy!

Well, it’s been frustrating, enlightening, educational and (mostly) fun! SO grateful that I can sleep at night now – at last!!

Chat soon!

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)