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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Cupcakes

    Hi, I love to make cupcakes for my family following any new recipes I get. Unfortunately, the cupcakes that I make always come out too dense and not fluffy enough. What should I do to make them lighter? I particularly love Nigella's "Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins". Thank you.

    From the nigella team:

    The texture of a cupcake can be a little subjective and each person may have a slightly different opinion of what makes a fluffy cupcake. There are many variations of cupcake batters but the two basic ones are a Victoria sponge style batter and a more American-style batter. 

    The Victoria sponge batter's main ingredients are butter, sugar, eggs and flour (plus raising agents) with flavourings added, and sometimes a very small amount of milk. This batter will give a tender cupcake as there is very little liquid in the mixture and it is liquid that will toughen the glutens in the flour. If you are making this type of batter then it may help to make the batter by creaming the butter and sugar with an electric mixer (freestanding or hand held), beating in the eggs a little at a time and then sifting the flour before folding it in gently to the batter. We would suggest trying Nigella's Cupcakes recipe from Domestic Goddess, which are extremely popular and use this style of batter.

    An American-style batter will tend to have extra dairy products added, often buttermilk or sour cream. These cupcakes are often leavened with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) instead of, or as well as, baking powder, to give them extra lightness. They have a slightly different structure to the Victoria sponge cupcakes and will be closer in texture to a muffin, but should not be heavy. If this type of cupcake appeals then we would suggest trying Nigella's Red Velvet Cupcakes from Kitchen.

    We would also suggest that you make sure that your oven is properly preheated before you start, regardless of which style of batter you choose to make. The cupcake batter should be put into the oven as soon as it has been mixed and spooned into the cupcake cases. If the batter is left standing around then the raising agents will expire and this can lead to heavy cupcakes, as they will not rise as much as they should.

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