Soft, fluffy Cinnamon Cupcakes are a wonderful treat. Topped with a simple to make Salted Caramel Frosting, these are going to be a definite hit at your next gathering.
Born out of a love of cupcakes, churros, salted caramel – and the desperate need to somehow have them all at once – these Cinnamon Cupcakes with their Salted Caramel Frosting are everything I’d hoped for.
Before I started baking my own cupcakes, hubby and I used to buy them from a little cupcake shop near home. I’d regularly choose the salted caramel version because, well, salted caramel (my love runs deep).
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How to make a moist and fluffy cupcake
After a while, we started noticing the standards at that shop dropping. The frosting turned hard and tasted old, the cupcakes were dry and dense. I figured there was only one thing to do – make my own. These Cinnamon Cupcakes were one of the first recipes I created and they are definitely the light and fluffy mini handfuls of cake a cupcake needs to be.
There are a few little tips to making cupcakes moist and fluffy
- Buttermilk – I often use buttermilk in my cakes and cupcakes as it tends to keep the crumb moist and tender (see substitutions below).
- Brown sugar – Brown sugar helps to keep cakes moist. Sometimes, I’ll use part brown sugar and part white sugar in my baking. These cupcakes use only brown sugar to keep them extra moist
- Corn flour / Cornstarch – I use corn flour a lot in my baking as it helps to give a softer, fluffier end result. It may look unusual but it really isn’t. Cake flour is a combination of plain or all-purpose flour and corn flour / cornstarch. I only have limited pantry space so I make my own cake flour by using a mixture of the two ingredients. Also, cake flour is so readily available in all place.
- The creaming method – it’s very important that, when a recipe tells you to beat together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, to do it. This creates air which in turn creates a softer, fluffier cupcake.
- Don’t overmix – Once you start adding flour to your batter, you want to do the opposite of the above and mix it as little as possible. Just until the flour is incorporated. Too much mixing results in glutens developing and making cakes dense and tough.
How to make Cinnamon Cupcakes from scratch
Let’s get down to business here. Start by creaming or beating your butter and sugar until very light. Don’t skimp on this step and make sure to scrape down the bowl a couple of times during this step. Two minutes should get you a good result. Add the egg one at a time (photo 1), beating well after each one.
Whisk together the dry ingredients so they are well mixed then add one third to the butter and egg mixture (photo 2). Just fold this through. This is where you want to switch to a spatula and fold until the mixture is just incorporated. Once flour goes in the mixing must be kept to a minimum.
Now add half the milk and just mix through and repeat this step by step folding with the remaining flour and milk (photo 3). You should have a coffee coloured but fairly thick batter (photo 4).
This batter is enough for 10 cupcakes, so divide it evenly among your cupcake liners in a muffin tray. Cupcake liners can come in different sizes so the basic rule of thumb here is to fill them to about ¾ full (photo 5). The cupcakes bake for around 20 minutes but you can test them with a toothpick. When it comes out with a crumb or two clinging to it, they are done.
How to make easy caramel sauce
This is a really easy way to make my salted caramel sauce. Yes, it’s cheating but I’m ok with that. It super quick, super easy, anyone can do it and there is no pesky trouble with crystallisation like a classic caramel sauce.
Just take two ingredients – store bought chewy caramels (I use the Werther’s Chewy Caramels) and some cream. Mix them together in a saucepan over very low heat (photo 6) until you have a smooth caramel sauce (photo 7). Add the salt and it’s done.
Recipe for salted caramel frosting
This is also a simple recipe as it is just a variation on a traditional buttercream. There is a little brown sugar added here for colour and caramel flavour as well as that glorious caramel sauce you just made. Mix those with some butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt and you have a deliciously simple Salted Caramel Frosting.
- Buttermilk – don’t have buttermilk on hand? For this recipe you can substitute with regular milk but you can make your own buttermilk. Just add 2 teaspoons of vinegar to normal milk and give it a stir. It may separate a little but that’s just fine.
- Caramel centre – If you’d like a caramel centre like my Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes, make double the amount of salted caramel sauce, then use a cupcake corer to cut a hole in the top of each cupcake and pour a little caramel into each one.
Do you love churros? Do you love cinnamon doughnuts? Do you love cupcakes? Do you love salted caramel? Yes. Then, friend, you are in the right place. These Cinnamon Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting are all of these things and more in one super tasty little package. You’ll be the envy of the party when you bring these babies along.
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Cinnamon Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting
FOR THE CINNAMON CUPCAKES
- 165 g (1 1⁄4 cups / 5.8oz) plain (all-purp) flour
- 25 g (0.9oz) corn flour (cornstarch)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (150g / 5.3oz) light brown sugar, packed
- 115 g (1/2 cup / 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temp
FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
- 125 g (4.4oz) chewy caramels (notes)
- 1/4 cup cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING
- 170 g (3/4 cup / 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (notes)
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups icing (powdered / confectioners) sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
FOR THE CINNAMON CUPCAKES
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Line 10 holes of a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix well.
- Add the eggs one at time, beating thoroughly between each. Scrape down the sides again, add the vanilla beat for a further minute.
- Switch to a spatula and fold through one third of the flour mixture being careful not to overmix.
- Add a half of the buttermilk until just mixed through. Repeat flour, milk, last of the flour each time mixing until only just combined.
- Fill paper cases about ¾ full. Bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pans and placing them on cooling racks.
FOR THE EASY SALTED CARAMEL
- Place the unwrapped caramels and cream in a saucepan over very low heat. Heat, stirring, until the caramels melt and the mixture is smooth. Add the salt and stir through. Allow to cool before using.
FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING
- Beat the butter, most of the cooled salted caramel sauce (reserving ¼ cup) and the brown sugar. Beat until fully combined, lightened and creamy.
- Add the vanilla and beat through then add the icing sugar ½ cup at a time until fully combined. Beat on medium high for about 2 minutes until soft and fluffy. Add the extra salt and beat through.
- Pipe or spread your frosting onto the cupcakes then make a little divot in the top with a spoon. Pour a little of the remaining salted caramel sauce into each divot.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
- For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- I use corn starch a lot in my baking. Cake flour is a combination of all-purpose and cornstarch but in Australia is not so readily available. I use this combo in my recipes a lot instead of using cake flour.
- I use Werther's Chewy Caramels in my easy caramel sauce.
- Dont have buttermilk? Just combine 1/2 cup milk with 2 teaspoons of vinegar.
- Want to fill the cupcakes with caramel too? Make double the quantity of caramel and use a cupcake corer to cut a hole in the top of each cupcake to fill.
TOOLS USED IN THIS RECIPE
- I use these silicone muffin trays as I like the shape they give my cupcakes
- A handheld beater or stand mixer
- I use a medium ice cream scoop to help portion out the batter.
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