Sour cream is a natural tenderizer in cake batters and an added selling point – no one can resist dairy freshness. Butter-based frostings are best but a mix of shortening and butter will offer more volume and stability. You can substitute buttermilk for the sour cream but product will be a little less rich and moist.
These are all-occasion cupcakes but especially nice for a baby shower, Sweet 16 or wedding. For more delicate berry cupcakes, use half cake flour and half all- purpose.
Who doesn't enjoy chocolate? This cupcake recipe is another all-occasion favorite great for a baby shower, Sweet 16 or wedding.
Cupcakes Still Trending
By Marcy Goldman
Some trends come and go and never return (hula hoops, chicken a la king and Mock Apple Pie); some revisit (croissants, quiche and Red Velvet Cake). Then there are some trends that just stay put – perennially on the radar, trending in surges but firmly planted, at least in the baking world, in our permanent "what’s in?" hit list. The award for such a classic-but-hot item has to be cupcakes.
Ever since their debut, somewhere in the last 1600’s, cupcakes have enjoyed one long heyday. Originally called fairy cakes, the earliest cupcakes were indeed, baked in small teacups (versus the pans we have nowadays). America’s first culinary "star", Amelia Simms, off-quoted via her book, American Cookery, mentions cupcakes and even earlier, Eliza Leslie is on record with the term cupcake in her book “Seventy Receipts for Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats".
These days, cupcakes are still little cakes, baked in cupcake or muffin pans (for uniformity – and a concession to modern day preference for uniformity, cupcakes’ popularity, i.e. they have their own pan, and the lessening likelihood that people have a ton of teacups, suitable for baking in, hanging about).
Early on, little cakes were baked in ceramic cups, or more often, pottery teacups and that’s where the name stuck. My own thought is that women in era’s past might have been baking a larger cake, had extra batter (from their traditional 1,2,3,4 Cake or a pound cake) and ladled the surplus batter into a small cup. No doubt, many a small child enjoyed the little cakes as their private treat. To this day, few birthday parties are complete without cupcakes and the school bake-sale, even as it might be caught on YouTube or touted on a school’s Facebook page still and always, will have cupcakes on hand. Some things never change.
Consistently popular, cupcakes really had their Renaissance when they got the gourmet treatment via The Magnolia Bakery in New York City. More recently (and I can taste test attest for this) Sprinkles Bakery (in New York and L.A.) have make cupcakes even more the rage. (A cupcake from Sprinkles is, in a word: divine). When The Magnolia Bakery was mentioned in an episode of iconic Sex in the City, cupcakes went into the spotlight and don’t seem to be budging. Across the nation, cupcake bakeries continue to sprout up, as well as countless online recipes and blogs dedicated to cupcakes, not to mention telephone-book sized cupcake cookbooks. It’s been a long love affair that shows no sign of abating. And whereas the shape and size is classic, the varieties of cupcakes know no bounds. Red Velvet, cheesecake cupcakes, all manner of chocolate ones, as well as exotic dulce de leche cupcakes or Americana Snickerdoodle cupcakes are part of the cupcake mainframe. Even gluten free cupcakes have their platform and a ton of grateful fans.
At the beginning of their popularity, cupcakes might have done well because they were a respite from chocolate chunk cookies, muffins
and cinnamon buns. Plus with their colourful icings, cupcakes are simply eye candy in the best way –totally fetching. But as we are a nation
of weight watchers who still want our treats, the ‘little’ appeal of a small cake – a cupcake – makes them endure as the years and the
trends go by.
As simple as cupcakes are, there is always a way to make them better. Here are some of my best tricks, as well as three very special recipes to start you off.
Cupcakes continue to be classics, enjoying a surge in popularity with no sign in sight that this will change. Small treats are always welcome and there are new cupcake shops and boutiques opening daily. You can use these recipes to add to your own cupcake shop specialties or add them to your regular bakery line.
Cupcakes freeze well, iced or un-iced. For the freshest look and taste freeze them un-iced. Then brush them with Baker’s Simple Syrup (recipe included here) and frost them an hour or more before serving or putting in bakery display cabinet. This way you never run out of product but the cupcakes always look and taste fresh.
Make sure your disher or ice-cream scoop matches the size of the cupcake (or muffin) molds you are using. Yield might be slightly different depending on your bake ware specs. Record batches for yield so you know exactly the yield, per cupcake size (weight/size), in each formula.
When stocking cupcake or muffin pans to bake cupcakes in, restock from same supplier, making note of the size so that your cupcake line remains standardized (in looks, but also weight and size) and costing is stabilized.
Bake cupcake pans on parchment paper-lined baking sheets for best results and for a final product that is baked inside without sides and bottoms drying out.
Grease-proof cupcake liners are available and recommended. They come in standard white, but also organic (light brown) and all sorts of motifs and colors (not to mention sizes). Most suppliers will send samples which allow you to see what you will need to order for your line and presentation.
Always re-whip frostings before using unless freshly made.
Experiment with different extracts to flavor frostings. Smell and taste each extract before using. This is the foundation of the frosting (aside from butter) and only best, purest extracts perform well and offer the pure taste consumers love. That said, sometimes imitation flavors are required to bolster taste so do experiment with pure along with some artificial flavors (Loranns Flavor Oils offers a wonderful Red Velvet Cake Flavor Emulsion; Nielsen Massey offers a pure Chocolate Extract, for example)
Once cupcakes are iced – dust with nuts, or colored sugars, sprinkles, chocolate chips or grated chocolate or as in the case of the Strawberry Cupcakes, a slice of a fresh strawberry. Visual appeal is everything in the competitive cupcake world!
Foodservice Industry News
The Fresh Factor
Freshness is a factor for vending situations, admitted Stibel, but "I don't think people expect something coming out of a machine to be as fresh," he said. "Consumers get it. They'll be willing to tolerate it if the experience is something they're willing to repeat." The ability to assure quality was key in the move by Sprinkles Cupcakes to launch a "cupcake ATM" connected to its bakery in Beverly Hills, Calif., in March, said owner Charles Nelson.