Cupcake Leavening Methods

I have found three that I will test in order to find which produces the fluffiest, or least dense, batch of cupcakes. They allow for a greater leavening, or increase of volume of baking dough caused by the formation of gas bubbles. The methods to create this effect on the cupcakes are using egg whites only, mixing each ingredient separately before adding them to the mixture, and adding a teaspoon of corn starch to the mix. Eggs are a necessary ingredient to nearly any baked good. However, the two parts of the egg, the yolk and the white, have very different compositions.

Egg yolks are high in fat, while the whites contain a great amount of protein. Fats interfere with the proteins’ ability to form bonds and trap air, keeping them from becoming as fluffy as they could be. However, whipping egg whites on their own mixes air into the whites and disarranges their protein molecules. The protein molecules are usually in clusters. Whipping causes them to stretch out and link together, trapping the air into tiny bubbles. Thus, using the egg whites on their own allows the proteins to whip up to their fullest potential height.

A simpler method of decreasing the density of a batch of cupcakes is to mix each ingredient separately before adding them all together. By putting all dry ingredients into a bowl and whisking them until there are no lumps you are lightening the cake mix. Also, one should mix the eggs before their addition because this adds many small bubbles to them, which will cause bubbles to also be in the cupcakes, thereby making them light and fluffy. Finally, it is said that adding a teaspoon of cornstarch to your cupcakes before baking them will allow for extra lightness.

Cornstarch is made from the endosperm of corn or wheat. It is used in baking as a leavening agent. It includes starch, which absorbs moisture and lets the little bubbles to form more easily in the batter during baking. Cornstarch does not contain any gluten, which is a strong and stretchy protein that gives baked goods a very solid structure. As temperature rises while the cupcakes bake, the cornstarch cause gas molecules to move farther apart, thus expanding air cells. This reaction will give the cupcakes the desired fluffiness.

An important part of my experimentation will be determining the density of each cupcake. The formula for finding density is Density=Mass/Volume. In order to find the density, however, I must first find the mass and volume. Using a triple beam balance I can find the mass, but the volume will be more complicated. I have determined that the easiest way to calculate the volume would be to hypothetically separate each cupcake into thin segments by increments of approximately one centimeter. Then, I will have many approximate cylinders sitting on top of each other.

Next, all I must do is measure the circumference of each cylinder, use that number to calculate the radius, and input that radius into the formula for finding the volume of a cylinder: Volume=? *radius^2*height. By adding the volume of each cylinder I can find the volume of the entire cupcake. I will do this to each cupcake in each batch and use the volume to determine the densities. Then, the batch with the lowest average density of cupcake is the one with the most effective method. Using all this research, I have hypothesized that the cornstarch will do the greatest amount of leavening.