I absolutely adore making cupcakes. They are fun to make, come in all sorts of different sizes, are delicious to eat, and the best part is that you don’t have to share your cupcakes with anyone! It’s a simple process to make cupcakes, but as always with baking, something is bound to go wrong, right?
When it comes to making cupcakes, I sometimes get cupcakes that are flat, and sometimes cupcakes that are domed. But which ones are the right ones? Should cupcakes be flat or domed?
Cupcakes shouldn’t have a towering dome but they shouldn’t be completely flat either. There is a happy medium in this which can be a little tricky to achieve. If you want to find out whether cupcakes should be flat or domed, keep reading.
In a hurry? Check out the video at the bottom of this page for a detailed YouTube video on how to make the perfect cupcakes.
Should Cupcakes be Flat or Domed?
The general consensus is that cupcakes with a slight dome are better. If a cupcake is flat or too domed though, it means that something has gone wrong in the preparation and baking process.
The main reason that people consider slightly rounded cupcakes to be better is that you have a little more surface area to work with across the top of the cupcake. In turn, this allows you a little more space to apply icing or frosting.
It also gives you enough surface area to remove some of the centers of the cupcake, for instance, if you were making fairy cakes or filling the center with lemon curd.
A perfectly rounded cupcake is also a sign that you’ve mixed all your ingredients together properly and baked your cupcakes to perfection. A slightly domed cupcake will be nice and moist and fluffy. A cupcake with a really big, towering dome will have a really brown exterior and a really dense interior.
Why Are My Cupcakes Flat?
Cupcakes are most often flat because they haven’t risen properly. There can be a number of different reasons why this might be the case, from overmixing and putting too much air into your batter, from undermixing and not putting any air at all, to even using eggs that are too cold or butter that is far too soft.
Let’s take a look at each factor in more detail!
In order for any type of cake or cupcake to rise in the oven, you need to beat the ingredients together. When it comes to making cupcakes, using the all-in-one method ensures that you don’t unintentionally overmix your batter.
If you have creamed your butter and sugar together, then added the eggs and beaten them for another few minutes, you’ve definitely overbeaten your batter. When you overbeat your batter, you’ve incorporated too much air into your little cupcakes. You’ll notice that when you bake them, they will puff up really fast, making you think they are going to rise perfectly. But, don’t be fooled! As soon as you take them out of the oven, they will collapse.
As you can see cupcakes are temperamental little things that need a little TLC. They don’t like being overmixed and they don’t like being undermixed. When you don’t mix your batter long enough, you haven’t incorporated enough air which in turn will cause your cupcakes to come out really flat. Not ideal.
You Used Really Soft Butter
As well as making sure you’ve mixed in your ingredients for the right amount of time, you also need to make sure that your butter is the right consistency. Your butter needs to be soft, but not too soft. It should still be malleable, but not a greasy puddle mess.
Ideally, you want to take your butter out of the fridge for at least one hour before you start baking. If you are in a colder climate, this might be easier said than done… Try cutting your butter into smaller pieces so it warms up faster, or, you can soften it in the microwave, you just need to be careful not to overdo it!
So what happens when butter is too soft? When you mix butter into ingredients, you are essentially adding air to the butter. If the butter is near enough melted, you won’t be able to whip any air whatsoever. No air = flat cupcakes!
Are Your Eggs Cold?
Using room temperature ingredients is so important when it comes to baking and this definitely includes the eggs too. Eggs are vital in baking. Without eggs, cupcakes are nothing. If your eggs have come straight from the fridge, then be prepared to take out some really flat-looking cupcakes from the oven.
Eggs, when cold, can’t break down properly. So when you start mixing cold eggs into the batter, it will look very clumpy and that’s because the eggs haven’t broken down. Eggs at room temperature mix in better and you’ll be able to incorporate air far more easily than if they were straight from the fridge. Again, no air = flat cupcakes.
Is Your Raising Agent in Date?
I think by now we all know that room temperature eggs and butter play a huge role in making sure cupcakes don’t come out flat. But what about raising agents? Baking powder and baking soda play a pretty important role in making sure our cupcakes rise nicely in the oven.
If your raising agent is out of date, or your self-raising flour is out of date, that might cause your cupcakes to come out flat, so make sure you check the expiry date. Baking powder and soda should be changed every couple of months too. So, if yours is still in date but you’ve had it sitting in your cupboard opened for over a year, then chances are it’s gone bad. To find out how to test if your leavening agents are in date, take a look here.
How To Make Perfect Cupcakes
Use Room Temperature Ingredients
If you want to make perfectly rounded cupcakes, the first thing you need to do is make sure your ingredients are all at room temperature. That means butter and eggs should all be taken out of the fridge 1-2 hours before you start baking. If you live in a colder climate, you can dunk your eggs into a bowl with warm water and soften your butter in the microwave.
Check Your Butter!
Is your butter too cold? Or has it turned into a liquid? Make sure your butter is squeezably soft, not too hard, not too soft.
When it comes to mixing your batter, don’t overdo it! The aim is for there to be just enough air incorporated into the mixture that your cupcakes rise nicely, but not so much that they start to overflow in the oven.
Check Your Raising Agents
Make sure your raising agents are still in date and that you’ve stored them correctly (in an airtight container). If they are out of date or have been opened for a while, then it might be time to start fresh!
Use More Leavening Agents
At the absolute maximum, I would recommend using double the amount of leavening agents the recipe calls for. That should allow you to make perfectly risen cupcakes. Most cupcake recipes will call for the use of self raising flour anyway, so any additional leavening agent will probably not be required. But in the instance you only have plain flour, adding some baking powder to the mix won’t do any harm.
Don’t Overfill Your Cupcake Tin
Overfilling your regular pan will help to create the illusion of a huge rise, but in reality, you run the risk of completely overflowing your cupcake batter. If you fill your cupcake cases too much, the cupcakes will rise and begin to pour over the side of the tray. To get perfectly risen cupcakes, make sure you fill your tin 3/4 full. A perfect cupcake is one that has risen in line with the top of the cupcake liner.
If you are more of a visual person, check out this incredibly detailed and useful cupcake masterclass from Cupcake Jemma. She talks about the ins and outs of using the right kind of butter, as well as how long you should be mixing your cupcake batter for. Check it out!