Cupcakes for Dummies

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I know what you are thinking–”Haha, look at this guide for making box cupcakes on this fancy food blog. What a dummy.” Then again you clicked the link just to see how dumb it was. Then you secretly bookmarked it when no was looking. It’s okay–we all started somewhere.

Cooking and baking can seem like an impossible task but with some practice and study it can be very rewarding. This post is for those of you who may not have had a chance to make simple recipes growing up. You just haven’t had the experience of other bakers. Well that’s where I come in. This blog post will help you get your feet wet.

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Just by looking at me you might guess that I enjoy food. Probably more than I need to. One thing I have learned from my love of food was how cheap it was to prepare myself. In college I would often bake my desserts for the week and munch on them as I liked. Now as an adult I do it because it’s fun.

To get started I bought a box cake. The one pictured is a red velvet. You can get any sort of boxed cake that looks good to you–this is just what I had laying around.

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Then I gathered eggs, vegetable oil, a big bowl, a measuring cup, and something to stir with. Optionally you can also pick up a jar of icing to go on top. I’m not a huge icing fan but what the hey.

Start off by opening the box and emptying the contents (a sandy dust mixture) into the bowl. PRO TIP: KEEP THE BOX! All manner of important instructions are written on the back.

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Next crack three eggs into the bow. If you have never done this there are several tricks. The most important thing to keep in mind is cracking the egg without breaking the whole shell. You need to keep shell fragments out of the mix and egg in the mix.

Take the egg in one hand and hold the top and bottom. Smack it on the hard corner of the stove or countertop. Have your mixing bowl nearby to catch the egg as it comes free. Pull the two non-cracked ends of the egg apart OVER the bowl and watch for any shell pieces escaping. Repeat with the next two eggs.

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One thing you will notice is that your hands get a little messy. Make sure to wash/rinse them off. Egg can be bad for you if uncooked (and it is super slimy).

Next take the measuring cup and pour oil into it. Add oil till you fulfill whatever the box asks for. Next do the same for the water. It says cold water but anything not hot will work (lukewarm or just out of the tap).

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Once everything is gathered in the bowl you will have to mix it all up. If you have a whisk it is fairly easy but anything really will do. I started out mixing cakes with a clean fork and worked my way up to something that looks like a D&D weapon (it’s okay, you won’t have to multi-class in order to mix the cake).

Stir everything till you stop seeing lumps. Try beating it in a corner, change directions, hold it like a baby, plunge it like a toilet–whatever it takes. This is arguably a great skill that takes time and practice to figure out. Trying different methods is fun and can help keep down the flour taste in the finished product.

When everything is mixed up, grab a cupcake sheet. This may not be something you keep handy so you may need to borrow or buy one. They are pretty cheap (though the cheap ones rust easy). Fill the cup holders with the little paper cupcake thingy-s.

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Either pour from the bowl, grab a serving spoon, or reuse your measuring cup to put cake batter into the cup holder thingy-s. Fill each one to just below where the lip of the pan is. As they cook, the dough will rise so you want to leave room for them to expand.

If you run out of batter before holders don’t despair. You can just not make that many.

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Place the cooking platter into the oven and let it bake till the tops look like bread. If you are not sure if they are done, just grab a knife, toothpick, or gullible friend (not suggested or endorsed by N&N) and stick it into the middle of the cupcake. When you pull it out, see if there is any liquid left on the item. If not then it is ready to be taken out of the oven. If so put them back till cooked all the way.

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When they are done, take them out of the oven and set them aside. You want them to cool down before trying to take them out of the holders.

Once they are cool, use your hand or a fork to leverage them free of the pan. Place them on a platter or plate.

Grab your icing and spread evenly(-ish) as desired. If the icing is a little thick you can always throw it in the microwave for 10 seconds to make it easier to spread.

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And now pat yourself on the back! You did it! You baked something. If not, try buying more materials and give it another go. No one says you have to give up if it don’t get it the first time around. Practice things like measuring, pouring, and mixing till it becomes more natural. Force your friends and family to try it and give you their honest opinions.

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Before you know it you’ll be the star of the company bake sale and drowning in delicious foods. Good luck and all the best!

The Recipe:

  • Ingredients: 1 ¼ Cups Water, ½ Cup Vegetable Oil, 3 Eggs, 1 Spray Can of Non-Stick Pan Grease, 1 Box of Cake Mix

  • Tools needed: Oven, Large Bowl, Mixing Utensil, Cooking Pan, Optionally Cupcake Paper/Foil

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 Degrees F, cook for 18-23 minutes, let cool 10 minutes, apply topping and enjoy!

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