Mihai Aurel
What To Know Before You Bake Cupcakes

With fifteen years of baking experience since we first brought American cupcakes to London, we’ve selected a few things every baker should know before they bake cupcakes in order to get the tastiest bakes possible.

Use a food portioning scoop

Ever wondered why our cupcakes look so uniform? This is a handy tool we use for both scooping out cupcakes, but also layer cakes and frostings.

It allows you to get even measurements for both the batter mixtures to bake your sponge and also your frostings so that these can be equal across the batch.

It’s a lot easier than using normal spoons and the quick release mechanism ensures the scoop is nice and clean for each serving.


We recommend getting your food portioning scoop from a specialist cake shop online or catering supplier. At a pinch, ice cream scoops can work too!

Check your oven with an oven thermometer 

Ovens often operate at different temperatures to what we assume. This could mean that they are too hot or too cool which in turn affects the overall cooking time, leading to overcooked in the case of too hot or under-baked in the case of too cool.

Oven thermometers are a cheap and easy way of calibrating your oven so that you are sure you are baking at the correct temperature every time.


Oven thermometers are widely available from cook shops and online.

Bake as fresh as possible 

If your cupcakes are for an event or party, we recommend baking them as close to the time of serving as possible, ideally on the day, for the best flavour and texture.

All of our cupcakes are baked fresh each morning to make sure they taste as good as a cupcake possibly can. Sometimes, we appreciate this isn’t possible. Rather than baking and leaving your finished cupcakes in an airtight container for days, consider baking, cooling and freezing your sponges and topping with frosting just before serving for improved freshness.

If you want frozen and defrosted pre-baked sponges in advance to frost on the day, wrap well before freezing and make sure the sponges are completely defrosted and up to room temperature before applying frosting. We recommend making the frosting fresh.

This is a handy bake-ahead trick if you’re catering for a large number or rushed for time.

See our Baking in Advance FAQs for more tips.

Use a metal skewer to check the centre is baked 

Probing the sponge at the point you think it is just about baked is the best way to tell if it has been baked through.

Take the cake from the oven and insert a metal skewer at an angle into the centre of the sponge. This tests the thickest part of the cake and the last area to bake through.

If the skewer comes out cleanly, the cake is ready. If there is any residue of cake mixture on the skewer, return the cake to the oven and allow to bake for a little longer and test again in a few minutes.

Whip your frostings for the right amount of time

Whipping up frosting has the dual effect of combining all the ingredients but also incorporating air which creates a lovely smooth texture.

If you are making buttercream frosting (for treats like Vanilla Cupcakes or Chocolate Cupcakes) we recommend whipping for at least five minutes using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer. The more you whip buttercream, the lighter and fluffier it becomes.

If you are making cream cheese frosting (for Red Velvet Cake or Carrot Cake, for example), this is more delicate in structure and you should whip for less than five minutes as it can go runny. Reduce time even further if it is a hot day or the kitchen is especially hot as this can cause the cream cheese to melt.


For Hummingbird Bakery baking gifts to add flair to your baking and presentation or bestselling cookbooks for recipe inspiration, browse our Gifts & Books section.

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