MONICA QUESTION: I hope you are well. I have had an interesting cupcake experience. Today I made cupcakes using your All Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake, the recipe of which I have used on countless occasions for both cakes and cupcakes. I baked the first two trays of cupcakes in separate ovens at the same time and got basically the same result, I have gotten in the past. The cupcakes were mostly flat on top, especially when filled too high. (When filled lower I got a slight arc.) While they were cooling, I ran out to the store, to get more cupcake fillers to bake the last of the batter (6 more cupcakes.) I baked these for the same amount of time, but got a much higher cupcake. It looked as if they almost erupted slightly...peaking like a volcano! I have attached a picture for you to look at...the one in the middle is from the second baking, the other two are two samples from the first baking. Why did I get such a different result from the same batter? Did it have something to do with the batter sitting for more than 30 minutes before baking? Or that I used a 6 cup tray instead of a 12 cup tray? (The 6 cup tray was made of the same material as one of the 12 cup trays I used.) I would really like to be able to duplicate the result, since they looked nice frosted, but cannot understand why. Your insight would be invaluable!
ROSE REPLY: cake batter that rises up in the center during baking resembling a volcano is always due to the cake's structure being too strong. this can be the result of using a higher protein flour or of inadequate leavening which i'm fairly certain is the case in your situation. baking powder is called double acting because part of it reacts on contact with the liquid in the batter and the other part from the oven heat. since part of your batter sat a while before baking, part of the baking powder activated leaving less to tenderize the batter. if you want to simulate the result, simply decrease the baking powder and you will get a more rounded top but a less tender cake.