5 Steps to Perfect Cupcakes, According to Baking Experts

Moist, tasty, and expertly iced, the popular cupcake creations of the pros behind Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C., are baked works of art. Learn some of their delicious secrets on how to make perfect cupcakes ahead.

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Covered in frosting and decorations, cupcakes are the perfect treat for celebrating any occasion. And while it's easy to bake cupcakes (thanks to our Test Kitchen's guidance), we can't pass up any excuse to upgrade our cupcake-making game. Sisters Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne—the expert bakers and owners of Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C.— gave us the scoop on their artfully-crafted cupcakes. Read on for some delicious pro tips on how to make cupcakes moist, fluffy, and super tasty every time.

Neapolitan Cupcakes
Blaine Moats

Cupcake Tip 1: Work with the Best Ingredients

When your teeth sink into a cupcake, your taste buds should register nothing but bliss. If you want to know the secret of how to make cupcakes moist and perfect, splurge on top-tier ingredients, say the sisters. Exceptional flavors are essential in something as small as a cupcake, so make those 3 to 4 bites count. "We use Plugra butter, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, and Valrhona cocoa, and they make a huge difference in taste," says LaMontagne.

Buy It: Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract ($32.95 – $54.95, Williams Sonoma)

Cupcake Tip 2: Never Overbake a Cupcake

"We always recommend erring on the side of under-baking," says Kallinis. "If you overbake a cupcake, there's no way to save it. And it won't be moist on the inside." Georgetown Cupcake's team of bakers even set two timers to ensure the cakes make it out of the oven on time. For even better results, check your oven's heat with an oven thermometer ($6.99, Target), to determine its actual temperature. You're doing it right when your cupcakes look slightly sunken rather than peaked, says LaMontagne. Test them with a toothpick if you're unsure.

Cupcake Tip 3: Mix Batter with a Light Hand

If there's one thing we've learned as bakers on how to make cupcakes moist and fluffy, it's to simply be more gentle, says LaMontagne. "Baking fluffy, moist cupcakes is all about creating air bubbles in your batter that expand in the oven," she says. "If you overmix your batter, you collapse those bubbles and end up with a brick-like cake." Always mix on a low speed to avoid this, stopping just as all ingredients blend.

Cupcake Tip 4: Let All Ingredients Come to Room Temperature

Take it from a pro: All ingredients incorporate into batter much more easily if they're at similar temperatures, says Kallinis. Sure, it requires a bit more planning to set out eggs, butter, and other refrigerated ingredients 15 to 20 minutes before you set to work—but for a perfect cupcake, it's worth it. (And as far as baking tips go, this one ranks among the easiest!)

Cupcake Tip 5: Freeze Your Creations

If you're baking ahead, the key to ensuring you have perfect cupcakes for your gathering is freezing them. "If you've baked them to eat right away, we recommend storing cupcakes at room temperature," says LaMontagne. "But if they're for tomorrow, freezing them will retain their moisture much better than leaving them on a countertop overnight."

Put these expert cupcake skills to the test by trying out a new cupcake recipe. You can also practice your piping skills with these cupcake decorating tips.

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