I am brand new to baking. I thought I would start out by trying to perfect a cupcake recipe. The recipe I've used, so far, seems a bit dense for a cupcake. Can someone help me out by explaining how to make them lighter or do I just need to find a new recipe? If so, I'd love suggestions!
If you are used to cake mix cakes, then many other from scratch recipes will seem dense.
However sometimes it is the method that determines the results. If the recipe has butter and white sugar in it and says to cream them together, try creaming them on about medium speed for 10 minutes. This basically will make the batter fluffier. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Once your flour is added and the flour gets wet from the other ingredients - you are going to want to mix for a minimum of time because the longer you mix wet flour, the more you develop the gluten in the flour and this affects the cake's texture.
Cakes with egg whites alone generally have you beating the egg whites separately until stiff not dry and gently folding them into the batter so that the cake texture is light and fluffy. The method is important.
Cakes with butter are often more dense than those made with shortening. Those made with shortening often employ a high-ratio method of mixing which makes the cakes lighter and fluffier.
Cakes made with cake (and pastry) flour generally have a lighter crumb. As do cakes made with buttermilk.
So the reason the recipe you are using produces a dense cupcake may be the kind of recipe it is, the ingredients it uses, the method you employed or how long and how high a temperature it baked at.
What recipe did you use and what flavour or kind of cupcake recipe are you looking for?
You should change your recipe. Usually the reverse creaming method will give you light and fluffy, especially if you use cake flour. I use the Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes book recipe. A lot of my baking friends have fallen in love with it. I weigh all the ingredients so that I don't have extra flour to make it dense or heavy.
Sweetapolita has it in her blog, together with precise measurements. She also has a fluffy vanilla cake recipe you could try.
Read more at http://www.cakecentral.com/forum/t/823639/light-fluffy#post_7630367#OcQMLYw3psQ95qMh.99
My sister in South America also uses the vanilla buttermilk cake recipe for cakes and cupcakes. She has a business and people over there don't like dense cakes at all.
I don't like the chocolate version, but the vanilla on came out light and fluffy for me. If you are using butter in your recipe and you refrigerate it, it will seem very dense even after bringing it back to room temperature. But try a new recipe if you're current one isn't working out for you. :)