Sunday, February 27, 2011

Experimental Baking - Cupcake Technicalities

Valentine's Day weekend, I made King Arthur Flour's Bake Sale Fudge Cupcakes. I wanted a recipe that was big enough that I could bring a bunch to work without begrudging them. (Not the greatest plan - my super healthy eating coworkers were almost useless at eating these.)
The recipe is easy, yummy, and very chocolately though. (It smells even better than it tastes though, which is a bit odd. And the chocolate chips inside were a little extra nice if you heat them up, but didn't add as much to the flavor as I felt like they should. )

But today we're here to talk about two things the recipe mentioned that were new to me:
  1. "For more even doming, use cupcake papers." starts one of the tips in the sidebar.
  2. "Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and tilt them in the cups so their bottoms don't steam." is one of the directions.
1. I've recently discovered the joy of spray oil with flour in it, and I had pretty much stopped using cupcake papers altogether. I always manage to dribble batter everywhere anyway, so they weren't saving me from washing the muffin tins, and it's nice to have the completely edible self-contained cake - no crumb-producing paper removing step.

2. I'd never heard this before! What separates a steamed bottom from an unsteamed bottom?

So the image shows my experiment: in my 12 spot tin, I sprayed half and did papers for half. In my two 6 spots, I tilted the cupcakes for half and left half to cool nestled in the tin.

The results:
  1. The tops of the papered ones were prettier. They were smoother and maybe a bit more domed. For a recipe like this, where you don't have to frost them, it would look nicer to use the papers. The naked ones have kind of a crust edge where the sides rise faster or something. For my purposes though, it's so much easier to just eat the naked ones and you don't have that sad moment where you're LOSING CAKE as you peel off the paper. Papered ones went to work and we ate all the naked ones. Team Naked Cupcake.
  2. I couldn't tell any difference between the ones that I tilted and the ones that I didn't. *shrugs* I don't have the most discerning palate, and these are pretty sturdy cupcakes, so I can't say there's absolutely nothing to it.

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