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What Happens When You Overmix Cake Batter

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Overmixed Cupcakes

My cupcake recipes like my famous vanilla cupcake recipe and chocolate cupcake recipe often contain the instruction “mix until just combined.”  Today, inspired by Craftsy’s free (to Cupcake Project readers) baking basics course, I want to talk about what that really means and what happens when you overmix cake batter.

What Happens When You Overmix Cake Batter?

Mixing batter until “just combined” means that you should stop mixing as soon as you can’t see the ingredient that you just added.  For example, if you are adding flour to butter and sugar, you should immediately stop mixing once you no longer see any white powder.

You may have read that when you overmix cake batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands – resulting in a more dense, chewy texture.  This can be beneficial in cookies, but it’s not so great in cakes and it’s an archenemy of flaky pie crusts.  I’d heard that as well, but until I saw the great visual of an overmixed cake in Craftsy’s Baking Basics course, I’d never thought to purposely make an overmixed cupcake to see (and taste) what happens.

For my experiment, I mixed my Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake batter for an extra three minutes on high speed above what the recipe calls for.

Overmixed Cake Batter

Look how different the batter looks in each liner – the white liners’ batter is mixed correctly and the red liners’ batter is overmixed.  The batter in the red liner was much smoother and more dense (almost like cookie dough).  I’ll admit that when that when the cupcakes came out of the oven, I worried a bit that my experiment was a bust.  The overmixed cupcakes looked nicer than their correctly-produced sisters.  Both cupcake variations had perfect domes, but the overmixed ones looked cleaner and had fewer crumbs.  If they tasted better, it would have been overmixed cupcakes for the win.

Once I tasted the two cupcakes, there was no contest.  The overmixed cupcake was dense as pound cake and gummy; it stuck to the side of my mouth as I ate it.  The correctly-mixed cupcake was light and airy and, well, the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake.  Also interesting was that by the time we took the photo (the next morning), the overmixed cupcake had sunk and lost its dome while the properly mixed cupcake still looked perfect.

Want More Baking Basics?  Craftsy is Giving All Cupcake Project Readers a Free Online Class!

Craftsy Baking Basics

As Beth Somers says in Crafty’s online Baking Basics course, “Baking is a science.”  Even if you’ve been baking for years, you may have never received any formal instruction in the baking basics.  One small thing you were never taught could make all of the difference in your end results.  Craftsy is giving away their Baking Basics course (a $19.99 value) free to all Cupcake Project readers and I highly recommend that you take advantage of it!

What I love about the Baking Basics course is that the class assumes no knowledge at all about baking.  Everything is completely explained – from how soft your butter should be to how to properly measure flour and sugar.

Once Beth is done showing you how to bake a cake, she goes on to the basics of cake decorating.  She teaches some easy ways to level and frost a layer cake.  Beth is a fantastic instructor and makes everything simple, but I do have to question whether she’s a real human.  After she levels her cake, she takes the top part and tosses it without taking a single bite.  Are you able to do that?  I’m not!

Beth had so many tips.  She has  a wonderful section on frosting where she talks about the three different thicknesses of frosting, how to use each kind, and how to know which kind you have.  I also learned from her that adding corn syrup to frosting makes writing names on cakes easier (the frosting becomes more elastic).

craftsy q and a

Like any Craftsy course, one of the best parts of Baking Basics is the community.  As you watch the class, you’ll see questions and comments from present and past students to the side of your screen and you’ll learn so much from them.  Beth regularly chimes in to help answer the questions, so don’t shy away from asking her or your fellow students for help.  No question is too basic.

To sign up for the class, head to Craftsy now.  Happy Baking!

This post was sponsored by Craftsy.

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15 comments on “What Happens When You Overmix Cake Batter”

  1. Barbara says:

    Thanks so much for the free Craftsy class! I’m headed over to watch it right now!

    • Charlene says:

      This I now 2018. I am a totally blind woman who has had no real teaching when it comes to baking. I have been very I have a strong desire to want to bake cakes for other people. If this baking basics is free for Project Cupcake subscribers, I fully intend to take advantage of that online class. I have needed something like this my entire life. I think I am probably going to have to do the leveling of dry ingreedients a little differentl because of my blindness. Thank you so much. I am looking forward to meeting all of you, online, of course. Finally, someone has explained to me what happen to cake batter when it is overmixed. s y s

  2. Minh says:

    Thanks for that Craftsy class! <3

  3. Thank you Stefani, I’m just signed up (wich was really easy) and now I’m watching the class… :)

  4. Glad says:

    About to watch it

  5. Yes you are right. I Like that your post. I think helpful for somebody.

  6. Faith says:

    Not free anymore :-(
    Coupon expired.. now $20.
    Thanks for the tips tho.

  7. Kirti Royal says:

    I love this recipe! Do you think it would work to substitute some of the flour for cocoa powder and the cranberries for cherries and make chocolate cherry muffins? Thanks!

  8. Carolyn says:

    I just discovered your blog. This coupon is expired, boo!

  9. bari'atu says:

    Thanks stef.a lot

  10. Debra Mullins says:

    love your recipes

  11. skyla says:

    i love to bake

  12. Edlyn Nuno says:

    This is great help thank you. I’ve been looking for something like this

  13. Christine Mele says:

    I wasn’t able to go to CRAFTSY, having been sick. The coupon ” has expired “,i am sorry.

  14. KEKE says:

    Definately siging up for the class! Thanks! And this post was very helpful. I’ve just decided to venture into cupcake making for events.

    I love baking, its my happy place, but I’m trying to learn as much as I can from the pros now. :)

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