Many people ask me how to make a big batch of cupcakes. For those used to baking 12 or 24, maybe 50 or 100 is quite a lot and might scare you. Most of the tips and recommendations I’m about to give are based purely on my personal experience. They work for these quantities, but the same logic applies to small batches as well – you just need to work your common sense and do a bit of math.
Tip #1: organize, organize, organize.
The magic of baking 50, 100 or 200 cupcakes by yourself is having everything in order and very well organized. Don’t you try to multiply a recipe in the heat of the baking. 9 out of 10 that you probably get it wrong. I’ve been there before.
Organizing yourself is essential to optimize every single minute of your production. Just imagine having to stop everything because you need flour. The 40-something minutes it’ll take you probably means two 24 cupcake batches baking time. To get organized, I use notepads. I’m the queen of notepads: I already multiply the recipes right and write down all the quantities. I prefer this way because I can take the notepad to the kitchen and get it dirty with flour and cocoa powder.
Tip #2: patisserie is also math.
For example: 60 vanilla cupcakes with nutella filling and ganache frosting, with fondant hearts on top. You need to calculate precisely how many recipes you’ll need for each. If every recipe yields 12 cupcakes, then you’ll need to bake it five times. If each nutella you buy can fill up to 20 cupcakes, then you’ll need three. If your ganache frosting yields enough for 30 cupcakes, then you’ll need to make it twice. And so on.
After you do this math, calculate the quantities of ingredients. Each recipe asks for 100g butter, it’s five recipes, so 100g x 5 = 500g butter. Do that to every single ingredient. Write it down on your shopping list and make sure everything is in there.
What I do is to round the quantities up everytime. So if I need 53 eggs, I’ll buy 60. If I need 4,5kg of flour, I’ll buy 5kg. Depending on the ingredient, if the expiration date is ok, I’ll even buy a whole big box, even if I just need a couple – most of the time, buying in bunks is cheaper.
Tip #3: do your shopping days ahead.
Buy all your ingredients beforehand, except those with short expiration dates like eggs or fruits. This way you’ll be able to focus only on your production on the days just before the delivery. And you’ll have control over the things you need and if you managed to find them in your city.
Tip #4: prepare what you can beforehand.
Some things can bem ade beforehand, like fillings, frosting and even the mise en place of the batters. A week before you can start prepping fillings and keeping them in the fridge. Most ot the frostings can be made beforehand as well, such as buttercreams and creamcheese frostings, but I usually make them the day before so to keep the freshness. The mise en place, for instance, can be made with the dry ingredients of your recipe (flour + salt + baking powder and even the sugar), storing them in a nicely sealed bowl, ready to be mixed when the time comes.
The preparation is essential when talking about the decorations. If you are responsible for them too – those miniature fondant things or royal icing roses – then make them days before and keep them in a sealed container until you’re ready to place them on top, like a chinese factory .
Tip #5: determine your kitchen attack plan.
You know your kitchen, you know how many cupcake pans can come out of your oven and you know the amount of dirty bowls you can place inside your sink at once. This is important so you know how to act.
I’ll exemplify with my kitchen attack plan: first I make the first batch of cupcake batter, which usually yields about 50. Then I divide them into two pans and bake them, while the rest of the batter stays there, covered with a kitchen towel (most of the batters won’t have a problem with waiting a bit until you can bake them. I only see problems with that waiting time when I make the red velvet cupcakes, because of the baking soda and vinegar chemical reaction, so you need to bake them as soon as you make the batter).
While the first 24 cupcakes are baking, I place new paper cups on the other two pans I have and start to divide the batter again. If there’s time left, I start to wash and dry the dirty bowls and utensils, because it’s a small kitchen and I can’t pile up stuff. I remove the cupcakes from the oven, already placing the new ones inside, and take the baked ones out to come to room temperature on wire racks. If there’s any more time left, I’ll start to open up the cones for the fillings, in case they do have fillings, or decorating with frosting the ones that are already cooled.
Get the idea? The key is to optimize your time. Don’t stop for a single second, unless you are really REALLY tired, then you should take a break on the couch.
Tip #6: you’re not superman/wonder woman.
Nor Batman. Unfortunately.
Don’t accept big cupcake orders if you don’t have anyone to help you or if you can’t. It doesn’t matter if it’s for your best friend’s wedding or they will pay a ridiculous amount of money. I mean it. Nothing in this world pays for your well-being. Learn to say no. Understand the size of your kitchen and your personal skills of baking production, keeping always the quality of the goods. Accept orders that you can deliver in good hygiene.
For now this is it. This post will have a second part, because I have more tips on transportation, for example, that I find worthy of mentioning. I hope this can help you guys! :)