Michelle Darrisaw
Updated: February 15, 2017


Decisions. To be Team Cake or Team Cupcake?

In a bidding war between both baked desserts, layered cakes usually come out on top. Personally, I’m always in the mood for a classic, stacked layer cake with frosting, but thanks to the reality TV baking surge--particularly with shows like The Great British Bake Off and Cupcake Wars--cupcakes have become my go-to, bite-sized treat of choice. Despite my appetite for chocolate cake all day, every day, the likelihood of me having the motivation to bake, cool, trim, stack, and frost chocolatey layers on any sort of regular basis is next to none. 

Although they’re somewhat awkward to eat, this is where cupcakes prove to be a handy (literally) solution. They’re simpler/faster to bake, frost decently, and serve than a 3-layered cake. Not to mention, they're more easily adjusted for a half-batch.

Now, here's the kicker--you can still use your favorite layer cake recipes, even enjoying a laid-back cupcake lifestyle. Yep, you can take just about any recipe for a double layered cake and use it to make convenient, grab-and-go cupcakes. And Deb Wise, our in-house baking expert, filled me in on all the tips and tricks for converting a layer cake recipe into delicious cupcakes.

Prepare to be amazed and to lick the spoon. All you need to transition your favorite cake into the perfect cupcake are these six easy steps:

  • Scale Accordingly - According to Wise, scale is important. Expect to yield about 24 cupcakes from the same amount of batter you would typically use to make a double-layer cake. Keep in mind you can always cut it in half to make one dozen.

  • Use the Same Prep and Temp Instructions - Wise suggests setting the oven at the same temperature as you would for baking layers and preparing your batter as you normally would by mixing the dry ingredients together and incorporating them incrementally as the recipe instructs. However, on the final mix, be careful not to over-mix the cake batter. As Wise points out, "It releases too much air and can cause the cupcakes to deflate when removed from the oven."
  • Photo: NatashaPhoto

    • Fill Liners - Use standard cupcake liners in a muffin pan, and fill each cup 1/2 - 3/4 of the way. To keep the liners from sticking to the pan cups, Wise coats the cups with baking spray and a little flour. And the best part is that you don't have to give up on tasty fillings when baking cupcakes. Wise advises putting half the batter at the bottom of the liner first. Next, put at least two teaspoons of the filling of your choice, and finally, add the rest of the batter on top. Voila! You now have cupcakes with a little surprise inside.

  • Bake - Most cupcakes take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to bake. A general rule of thumb to test for doneness is inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean or dry, your cupcakes are done. You can also try gently touching the top of the cupcakes to see if they spring back.
  • Cool Off - Wise adds that you should remove the cupcakes from the pan and set them on a wire rack until they're completely cool. If you keep the cupcakes in the muffin pan, it may cause the liners to pull away from the cake.
  • Frost Away - Hey, we're not making muffins here, people. You'll want to add some sort of sweet frosting or rich glaze to complement the flavor of your cupcake (a classic buttercream is always my personal favorite). Whether you pipe a pretty swirl or just spread a thick layer on top, a little frosting garnish goes a long way. 

     Of course, if you want to skip the cake conversion, check out our favorite recipes for a simple, sweet bite of decadence