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Bake the Perfect Cupcake: Step 3
3. Do not overmix the cupcake batter.
You know how some people say that “baking is a real science?” Well yeah. It’s certainly for real. The reason that mixing times can be so important is due to the fact that the actual length of mixing will determine how much of the actual gluten within the flour is developed (in particular with the all-purpose flour, as opposed to the cake flour which tends to have less gluten to start with).
We will crush some of the air bubbles when we overmix the batter, and any remaining air bubbles will have to work alot harder to expand as the cupcake cooks due to way too much gluten development. That means that a lot of pressure will build up inside of each air bubble, and when the air bubbles burst they burst with a great deal of force rather than a nice gentle expansion.
The result will be long, hollow tunnels inside of your cupcake, and a cracked surface that forms as the air erupts through it like a volcano. The resulting cupcake will be alot denser, with a much tighter grain. When we undermix the batter, there isn’t nearly enough gluten, which prevents the cupcake from setting correctly or from forming a rigid structure and will result in a flaky, crumbly cupcake with a fallen center.
To ensure proper mixing, beat the cupcake batter on low until the ingredients have just combined. Don’t leave your stand mixer on and then walk away! Watch carefully so to ensure you aren’t beating the mixture any more than you have to.