The Biggest Mistake You're Making When Frosting Cupcakes

It's very rare that you spend an afternoon baking cupcakes and you don't want to eat them right away. Chances are, your midnight snack baking frenzy has turned into an inescapable need to try just one cupcake, even if they're still piping hot. Or, let's be honest, you could have sweated for hours over the oven to bake a batch for a party, and you just want to clean the mess in the kitchen and finish up already — we've all been there, too. But no matter the situation, patience is key when it comes to finishing cupcakes, and for good reason.

If you can, ignore all temptation and keep this one rule in mind, or you may end up with a confectionary disaster on your hands (and no midnight snack worth the amount of effort, after all). According to Kitchn, one of the top mistakes people make when baking cupcakes is an entirely avoidable one — frosting too early. Whatever you do, don't start piping a drop of frosting until the batch is completely cooled.

A wire rack is a must-have when it comes to frosting cupcakes

Frosting a cupcake while it's still warm is nothing short of asking for trouble: The beautiful buttercream you whipped up will likely ooze right off the side of your perfectly-cooked cake if it's fresh out of the oven. It's crucial to swap your cupcakes from the hot baking pan and onto something else, like a wire rack, to help them cool down evenly for at least an hour, according to Kitchn. If you leave your cupcakes in the pan, they'll actually keep cooking from the residual heat. The end result? Dried out cupcakes with loose crumbs and a very melty frosting — a lose-lose situation, just to save a bit of time.

Instead, let the cupcakes cool before transferring them to a wire rack for proper ventilation. Multi-tiered ones help with circulation, which will ultimately help your cupcakes cool down evenly and quickly, just in time to start frosting. Your cupcakes should be room temperature or cooler soon enough, but keep a close eye on them to decide when the heat has fully dissipated (via Life As A Strawberry).

There are a few other cupcake hacks for impatient bakers, too

While Kitchn suggests an hour, the verdict is out on how long you should wait. Bakers online at Baking Forums recommend waiting 30 minutes to one hour before frosting your cupcakes, but some even suggest baking early in the morning and delaying the final touches until the end of the day.

For the inherently impatient bakers out there, don't worry, we didn't forget about you. There are still a few options if you don't feel like sitting around for an hour or two, staring at tier upon tier of decadent dark chocolate cupcakes. According to Sweet Revelations, you can always open your window on a breezy day where there's regular airflow coming in from wind to help speed the process along.

If you're really pressed for time, the outlet also suggests sticking the cupcakes (safely) in the fridge to cool down faster. The fridge is the better choice over the freezer, since freezing the cooked cakes may alter the texture and taste. If you're really adamant and want to try the freezer technique, one baker on Baking Forums suggests individually wrapping your cakes tightly with foil to keep in the moisture. Of course, that extra step may mean waiting longer than sticking with a wire rack and a countertop after all.

If you ask us, the answer is clear on this one: Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to perfecting that (well-deserved) cupcake.