Making Great Cupcakes - The Essentials
Since I started baking a good few years back, I have built up collection of tools, equipment and techniques that I thought I would share, along with links to where you can buy them.
The most important item I invested in was a good stand mixer. My budget at the time wouldn't stretch to a Kenwood Chef or KitchenAid, but I found a good alternative on Amazon:
The Andrew James Electric Food Stand Mixer
Currently £84.97 with Amazon Prime here
This is a good entry level mixer. It comes with a 5.2L bowl, splash guard, dough hook, flexible beater, aluminium beater and balloon whisk. It also includes a flexible spatula.
I used it so much I now have two of them to speed up the cupcake making process.
Next you will need some good muffin trays, I have a couple of 12 hole ones for general batches, and a few 6 hole ones for smaller batches and if I have batter left over.
You will want a selection of different coloured, good quality cases to use for your creations. I find the ones from the supermarket lack rigidity so I use www.cakecraftshop.co.uk You can buy from them in bulk and stock up on your most commonly used colours. They also do a nice range in foil cases for those special occasions.
I started out with reusable piping bags, but they were a pain to clean, and I wasn't convinced about the hygiene involved. I found disposable ones on Amazon. These are great! They come in a roll like bin bags. You just tear one off and snip off the pointed end, insert a piping nozzle and you are good to go. Once you are finished piping, just squeeze out any remaining frosting, remove the nozzle, and place straight in the bin. No mess to clean up.
I don't have the patience to spend hours making toppers from sugar paste. I like to keep an eye out in shops, or online for anything that might work as a topper. I also try to make my toppers completely edible if I can. Examples I have found that work well are: McVitie's Gingerbread Men Biscuits, Marshmallow pumpkins, Ferrero Roche. You will also want a selection of sprinkles to add to your ideas. These include: edible glitters, sugar crystals, chocolate curls.
Once you have created some amazing cupcakes, you are going to need to get them to where they need to be. I use several Andrew James Cupcake Carriers, available from Amazon here. If you have more than one, you can clip them together to give you extra capacity. Be careful though, any knocks and the cupcakes can flip over and ruin your hard work.
Hopefully this has given you enough to get you started! I'll be doing a few follow up articles over the coming weeks on some good base cake recipes you can use as a starter for your ideas.