One of the things our students tell us is most daunting is baking large batches of cakes, some having had bad experiences of being in the kitchen until the wee hours, followed by even more hours of cleaning up, and complete panic when it comes to setting up and displaying a cupcake tower. When you start taking on larger orders it can be very stressful and its easy to jump in and start anywhere you can for fear of time running out when a few little organistaional tweaks can relieve that stress and save you lots of time.
All of us here at BDB run our own cupcake businesses or have done, so here are our top tips for baking big batches of cupcakes.
1. Knowing you have the right ingredients and the right amount of each ingredient may sound obvious but its easily forgotten. When you’re convinced you have a cupboard full of caster sugar, the most chilling feeling is to realise on the morning of the big bake that you used it all mid-week for that treacle tart Mary Berry made on GBBO. So 2 or 3 days before, check your ingredients.
2. Sitting down for half an hour and working out how many bags of flour and boxes of eggs you use for 100 or 300 cakes is priceless in terms of time-saving. Keep a record of these amounts and then the next time you have a large order coming up it’ll take 2 minutes to check what you have and exactly how much more you need to order.
3. Make your buttercream in advance and in BIG batches. Buttercream can be frozen and will keep in the fridge for roughly a week so why not make it in advance?! A quick mix of room temperature buttercream will have it as smooth as new. Just imagine. No icing sugar clouds to deal with on the day of the bake!
4. Before baking, set out all of your ingredients in front of you. If warming your butter or milk do it now so its all there in front of you, rather than running between your mixer and the microwave over and again. The same goes for equipment. One mad rush for measuring jugs and weighing scales now is better than 6 mad rushes during baking.
5. The more baking trays you have the better. It may seem excessive but this is when you’ll be really glad you bought 3 too many. Laying them out on as a big a surface as you can find and lining with cupcake cases in one go will save you lots of time later. And if you buy lots of the same brand that stack nicely no one can tell you off for taking up too much room in the cupboard!
6. Believe it or not you can also start to prepare for displaying your cakes at this early stage too. If your display consists of 2 or 3 different colour cases and you want them to alternate around the stand, alternate them in your trays. This takes no extra time but cuts out any late night diagram drawings of setting up or frantic box swapping at the venue.
7. Tidy as you go – another obvious one but getting rid of empty packets and egg shells helps you concentrate. A quick wipe over surfaces helps clear your mind as well as your workspace. To help with the fall out later on have a bowl of soapy water for pre-soaking equipment (but remember to wash hands in a separate area) -this will make grease and smudges come away with ease when washed thoroughly (one of Guru Kath’s favorites!).
8. Ice cream scoops are a god-send for evenly distributing cake mix with much less mess and much more speed. We use 2 different sizes – for flat and domed tops, both available in our online shop!
9. BIG boxes are a must. You can buy heavy duty boxes for 24 cupcakes online which have endless advantages. As soon as your cakes are cool enough pop them straight into your boxes – again they can go in the same order as they sat in your trays if you’re doing an alternating display. They can then be stacked out of the way until you’re ready to decorate – then you can ice your cakes in the box and move around with ease.
10. Decant your sprinkles into pots you can fit your hand in for easy access rather than wrestling with miniscule plastic packets. Another plus of bulk boxes is they’re self contained sprinkle catchers! As long as you’re not worried about a little rattling of loose sprinkles in the bottom there’s nothing wrong with sprinkling your cakes in the box. Hours of rogue sprinkle hunting saved!
We hope this will help anyone tackling a large order in the future and we’d love to hear your tips for stress free baking too! What helps you to be efficient in the kitchen? What have you learnt from big orders? Any big successes or never to be mentioned again disasters?!