Cupcakes hold a special place in the heart of many bakers, mine included. Cupcakes are one of the few sweet treats that really allow you to unleash your creative side; the endless flavors and decorative styles give you the opportunity to whip up some truly unique creations.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that perfecting the art of making cupcakes is an easy task though. Sure, cupcakes are relatively simple to make, most recipes are almost identical to a basic sponge cake. However, finding the perfect recipe is only half the battle.
In recent years, decorating cupcakes has become more of an art form than a simple baking task. Having the artistic vision, as well as the ability to master the art of piping and creating decorations, is the real trick to making Instagram-worthy creations.
If you want to be able to make such things, and to level up your cupcake game, having the right tools is essential. To help you on your journey to cupcake mastery, I have put together a must-have list of equipment for cupcakes.
Some tools on my list, like cupcake trays and lines, are essential. Others, like the squeeze bottle or apple corer, are less so. These ‘nice to have’ accessories might not be crucial to the cupcake making process, but they will undoubtedly help you achieve those show-stopping finishes.
All that said, let’s have a look at some of the essential equipment for cupcakes.
Cupcake baking tools
Baking is different from cooking. You can’t really just throw in a little bit of this and that into the mix. It’s more like a science, everything needs to be measured accordingly and incorporated into the wall in order to produce the perfect mouth-watering cake.
After you have picked your favorite cupcake recipe, you are going to need the right tools to help you make the batter. Most of these are the must-have baking utensils tools that will not only help you achieve the best cupcake results but help you in all your other baking endeavors too.
Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer
Although you might have a few hand mixer substitutes lying around your house, if you haven’t already done so, I strongly suggest you treat yourself to an electric mixer.
A stand mixer is usually the best choice although these appliances take up a fair-share of countertop real estate. If your budget, or countertop, doesn’t quite accommodate a stand mixer then I would suggest just opting for a cake hand mixer.
Both hand and stand mixers ultimately have the same function: they thoroughly mix ingredients to make for a smooth cupcake batter. This is actually really important, not only will it ensure there are no lumps in your cake, but it also helps develop the gluten to make batter (or dough) light and airy.
It’s not just the cake batter where an electric mixer comes in handy though, here are plenty of other jobs where these bad boys will undoubtedly save you a lot of arm-aching hassle. Softening butter can be a labor-intensive job and an electric mixer will save you some bother when it comes to whipping up your buttercream frosting too.
Be sure to use the correct attachments for the task at hand. The flat beater will work the best when making your cupcake batter or buttercream.
Any avid baker will tell you that you can never have too many mixing bowls. When I’m baking, I like to stay organized and weigh everything beforehand into separate bowls, so having an abundance of spare mixing bowls is a nice luxury.
When it comes to mixing bowls, glass or ceramic are usually best; they aren’t porous so don’t interfere with the flavors of your cupcakes. These types of bowls can also be used in the microwave or on the stove over a double boiler to melt chocolate, let’s say for a ganache. They might be more costly but they will last forever and better for the planet too!
Reliable scales are another essential baking tool for cupcakes. Everyone from first-time amateur bakers to the most seasoned professionals need a pair of reliable scales in their baking arsenal.
Like I mentioned earlier, baking is a science, and all the ingredients need to be measured precisely if you want the perfect cupcake every time, that is.
Digital scales are the most accurate; just make sure you have a well-stocked supply of batteries on hand. I would hate for your scale to be “flat” when you want to bake cupcakes for your child’s birthday party. You can also buy great manual ones, it’s old school, but it will always work.
I’m sure everyone has a set of these in the kitchen drawer, and if you don’t, then why not?!
Measuring baking powder with the same teaspoons you make your coffee with is simply not accurate enough. If you want to make perfectly risen, light, and fluffy cupcakes, then having the right amount of baking powder plays an important role. I prefer the metal measuring spoons; once you buy a set, you will never have to buy another.
It was a sad day when my mom bought our first silicone spatula. Because these utensils are so good at scraping every morsel of buttercream or melted chocolate from the bowl, licking the baking bowl isn’t exactly the same when you have a silicone spatula to scrape it clean.
Despite that, a silicone spatula is a great utensil to have in the kitchen. As a tool for cupcakes, a silicone spatula is brilliant when it comes to trying to get every last drop of batter into your cupcake liners. They also come in handy if you need to fold in delicate frostings like swiss meringue.
A cupcake tray – also known as a muffin tray – is one of those absolute essential tools for cupcakes. There is no other way to bake your cupcakes. You just simply must have one of these!
You can also buy silicone cupcake trays; just be sure to place this on a baking tray before filling it with cake batter. It could end in one big mess!
Cupcake liners are a no-brainer they also go hand in hand with the cupcake tray.
You need to have these little liners, not only to stop cupcakes from sticking to the tray but it adds to the presentation of the finished cupcakes. You can find some really unique cupcake liners these days, even for special occasions like weddings!
Regardless of what you are making, it’s always best to sieve your dry ingredients. This will ensure any lumps and unwanted bits are caught and don’t end up in your cake batter.
A cooling rack is an important tool, although one that is often overlooked. Having one of these handy will help cool down your cupcakes faster, so you can ice them sooner. Place cupcakes on the cooling rack, allowing the cool air to circulate all around the cupcake, which allows them to cool without becoming soggy.
Cupcake decorating equipment
So, now you have made your cupcakes, it’s time to decorate! This is the cupcake decorating equipment I suggest you have to be able to create some show-stopping cupcakes. If you are looking to learn the tips and tricks for show-stopping decorations, I also suggest investing in a cupcake decorating book!
Large piping bags
These are essential for piping the buttercream icing onto your cupcakes. I would suggest buying a canvas one, these are reusable and they will last forever. Just remember to dry it thoroughly before packing it away. Alternatively, you can now buy disposable plastic piping bags, although these aren’t exactly an environmentally friendly option.
Small and large piping nozzles
Piping nozzles are where the magic happens! These are what will allow you to make those beautiful frosting designs you have been dreaming about, although there’s certainly an art to masting the piping technique for the more complex patterns.
When it comes to buying a set of piping nozzles, it’s best to have both large and small ones. They are very inexpensive, so don’t be afraid to invest in a couple of different sets. Nowadays, there are an endless variety of nozzle shapes to choose from, but these are my top 5 must-haves that can create beautiful icing- Star, closed Star, round, drop flower, petal.
While it any not exactly be essential, a cupcake corer is a great tool if you want to create filled cupcakes. Simply use the tool to remove the sponge cake in the center so that you can fill it with a delicious filling.
Be sure to save the sponge as you can use these to make cute butterflies for the top of your cupcakes or, if you have enough, transform them into cake pops.
It’s always a good idea to have a couple of these for all your different filling flavors. This just makes for easy, hassle-free filling of your cupcakes. They are also very handy for creating those studding trip effects on both small and regular-sized cakes.
What cupcake equipment are you missing?
So there you have it, every conceivable baking utensil and tool you would ever need will make your cupcake baking, and decorating a breeze. Of course, there are plenty more gadgets you could add to this, but this is a good start.
Happy baking and creating.