As with any endeavor, we want to put our best foot forward. And doing so almost always requires that we master the basics. Maybe even the things that get overlooked or taken for granted need to get revisited. Baking cupcakes is no exception!
Yes, something as simple as setting your oven to the correct temperature setting can make the difference between an awesome cupcake and a forgettable one.
The first step to mastering cupcakes is to have a firm grasp of temperature control. Continue reading so that we can inform you on the best temperature to bake cupcakes and what happens when the temperature is too low or too high!
What’s the Best Temperature to Bake Cupcakes?
Your oven is easily the most critical variable in determining the outcome of your bakes.
Baking at the right temperature is essential not only for determining baking times, but will also affect the final quality of your cupcakes.
Preheat the Oven
When making cupcakes, the first step is to preheat the oven 15 minutes before putting the cupcakes inside. Be sure to preheat the oven slightly higher than the temperature you plan on baking at.
This suggestion will compensate for the heat loss that occurs when you open the oven to place the cupcakes inside.
Cupcake Baking Temperature:
The best temperature to bake cupcakes at is 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For whatever recipe that you choose, make sure to read the specific instructions because batter density can vary, resulting in different cooking times.
If you happen to have a baking pan that has a non-stick or dark surface, lower the temper by 25°F to prevent over-browning. A darker pan will cause your cupcakes to have a darker finish.
Cupcake Baking Time:
Baking time depends on the size of the cupcakes in question. For regular-sized cupcakes, you can expect them to take about 21 to 26 minutes and just 10 minutes for mini-cupcakes to fully bake. The best way to test for doneness is to poke a cupcake with a toothpick.
You’ll want to check the cupcakes for doneness as soon as they reach the minimum baking time. If your toothpick is clean or has just a few crumbs attached upon removal, your cupcake is certainly done!
How Can I Test the Oven Temperature?
Oven thermometers are a perfect instrument to employ when you want to test how hot or cool your oven is. They can make all the difference for your baking endeavors. Thermometers will let you know that your oven is perfectly calibrated to the temperature of your specific recipe.
When using an oven thermometer, it’s essential to place it inside the oven before you turn the oven on.
Next, shut the oven door and allow the oven to preheat. When it is finished, view the temperature of the oven thermometer through the oven window.
The temperature can then get adjusted according to the recipe as the thermometer will accurately reflect the temperature of the oven at all times.
When you’re assured that the thermometer reflects the needed temperature for your recipe, using oven gloves, remove the thermometer from the oven, and let it cool off in a safe place out of the reach of children. As you can imagine, they can get very hot.
Finally, place your cupcakes in the oven and get to baking.
Should I Use a Fan-Assisted Oven?
Many ovens now have a convection setting, which causes a fan to circulate the hot air inside the oven. This results in a faster cooking time and baked goods brown more quickly as well.
A conventional oven heats the inside of the oven to your desired temperature. The oven cooks the sweets in a single blanket of heat.
If you have an oven with both conventional and fan-forced settings, use the conventional settings when baking slow and long as with cakes.
Use the fan-forced setting when cooking something faster and at higher temperatures. If you must use the fan-forced setting, be sure to lessen the temperature by 20°C to mimic a conventional oven.
How Can the Oven Temperature Affect My Final Outcome?
On a general basis, baking cupcakes at lower temperatures will result in a fluffier less golden finish and higher temperatures will result in a crisper crust with a golden finish.
It all depends on your preference; some recipes call for a golden crust and others a fluffier texture.
Your recipes will account for which method is best for your cupcakes, so simply follow the instructions, and if you find that you wish to adjust, do so the next time.
Cupcake Problems Related to Oven Temperature
Below is a list of problems about having the temperature of your oven too low or high:
Your Cupcakes Have Pointed Tops
Having your oven too hot can cause major problems. For starters, never bake your cupcakes on the convection or thermofan setting. The fan will push the hot air around, causing the overall heat to be intense for the batter.
The edges of the cupcake will inevitably bake way too fast, and it will crisp too quickly and stop rising too fast. However, the center will continue to rise and will push up through the top of the cupcake. You will end up with a pointy cupcake!
In conjunction with not preheating your oven for too long or having the heat too high, be sure not to overbeat the batter.
However, some cake recipes will require that you beat the batter for longer once all of the ingredients are together. Make sure that you strictly follow the required beating time.
Your Cupcakes Are Shrinking After You Take Them Out
This problem can be a frustrating one indeed!
When you initially take your cupcakes out of the oven, they are perfect. But after 3 to 5 minutes, they begin to shrink to an unflattering size.
What is the reason for this?
The main reason for this could be that your cupcakes have not finished baking. Moreover, having the temperature of the oven too low can cause the batter to sag the moment you remove it from the oven.
Other reasons for this problem could be:
- Too many eggs
- Old baking powder
- Over-beating of the batter
- Too much sugar
- Poor quality of sugar
Your Cupcakes Are Overflowing
This particular problem can be so tricky because you feel excited when you notice your cupcakes rising in the oven. After all, you feel like the first step is complete!
Then, the next thing you know, you see the cupcakes keep rising, and they won’t stop!
And what are you left with?
Cupcakes spilling over the tops of the liners and onto the flat surfaces of the pan.
Why would that happen?
Well, if you bake your cupcakes at a temperature that’s too low, it might make the batter overflow from your pan.
You have to make sure to preheat the oven to the temperature recommended to bake your cupcakes, which is usually 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some bakers have a preference to go a little higher so that when they open the oven to put the cupcakes in, it doesn’t take away from the heat too much.
If your temperature is too low, the exposed batter on the outside will take a longer amount of time to cook. That keeps the cupcakes in the riding phase for longer than usual.
Your Cupcakes Come Out of the Oven With Extra “Limbs”
Ever got your cupcakes out of the oven, and they look a little deformed on top?
This problem may arise because the oven temperature is too high. The heat overload could cause the outer layer of the batter to cook and get hard too fast. That means the middle of the cupcakes would still be liquid instead of solid.
Therefore, the batter has to expand, and it finds the weakest point in the cupcake. It will then force itself in that direction.
The results are those extra “limbs” on the tops of the cupcakes once they’re finished baking.
Additional Information About Baking Your Cupcakes
Here is additional information regarding the best way to bake your cupcakes in the oven.
Why Do I Have to Bake the Cupcakes in the Middle of The Oven?
Bake your cupcakes in the middle of the oven to encourage even heat distribution and airflow.
Put your cupcake or muffin pan in the middle of the oven rack and make sure the temperature is correct for baking. This positioning also helps to prevent the cupcakes from getting overcooked on one side.
Why Do I Need to Preheat The Oven Before Baking?
Preheating is not only essential to making sure your cupcakes bake at the correct temperature all the way through so they don’t become sunken, but it also helps with the taste.
Who knew that not preheating could affect flavor? Well, it does!
Any baked goods with flour and eggs must get placed at the exact temperature from the beginning. That will create the best environment for the cupcakes to rise, get that moist texture, get brown evenly, and avoid burning.
Tips That You Must Follow When Baking Cupcakes!
If you want to get the best cupcakes each time, these are tips you must follow, no matter which ingredients you swap in and out.
Measure Everything Correctly
More so than a measuring cup, the weight itself is the most accurate measurement, so a kitchen scale does wonders for helping to get your proportions right consistently.
For example, if you’ve ever made cupcakes and they ended up dry, you probably overdid it with the flour. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to do that.
If you still choose to use volume measuring devices like cups, be sure that you pack it into the cup and scrape off any extra from the top to avoid getting more flour than you need.
Don’t Use Refrigerated Ingredients
I have seen a lot of people that are used to grabbing their ingredients from the fridge when they bake their cupcakes and other goods.
Ideally, things like eggs and butter should be at room temperature when you use them. That’s because dairy ingredients like those form an emulsion. This emulsion traps air, and the air expands while baking in the oven, producing a fluffier result.
Always use fresh ingredients when you bake, especially for items like baking powder and baking soda. Those products usually lose their potency once they expire.
Follow the Recipe
Make sure you follow the recipe to a T. Don’t go in trying to make many substitutions or trying to eyeball measurements.
The first go around, you want to try to perfect what you researched. If you already made yourself familiar with the recipe and you have gotten pretty good results, change one thing at a time.
Use Your Oven Correctly
Do not, and I repeat, do not keep opening the door to check your cupcakes while they’re baking!
You’re letting heat escape when you do this, which interrupts the cooking process. You should wait until you’re about 75 percent of the way done if you can’t help yourself. But it’s best to just wait until the end.
Also, you should always get your cupcake batter straight into the oven once prepared. This tip is crucial because of the air bubbles created once the batter gets mixed.
The heat has to set those bubbles, and if you wait too long, your cupcakes will come out with holes all over the top.
In the end, cupcakes are both delicious and can drive you crazy when you’re in the process of trying to get them perfect. Always remember that the part that is the least involved is the most important!
Though you leave the cupcakes in the oven to cook and become golden bites waiting for the frosting, it can make or break the results if the temperature is too high or low.
Following these simple tips will help you adjust your recipes and get a consistent baking routine for your cupcakes. Practice makes perfect! But remember that as a general rule of thumb, 350 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature to bake cupcakes and the center of the oven is the sweet spot.