Almost everyone loves cupcakes -- and what's great in a small size is even better in giant size. Chances are you've seen the giant cupcake pans, available in both metal and silicone versions, in stores. These versatile pans help even novice bakers create whimsical, original cakes. A few tips and tricks before you start creating your giant cupcake can make the difference between disappointment and success.
Cakes baked in a giant cupcake pan are slightly larger than a standard layer cake and therefore require more batter. For most of the pans, you need approximately 6 cups of batter -- 3 1/2 cups for the base and 2 1/2 cups for the top. For the most stable cake, choose a dense cake, such as pound cake. If you're using your own recipe, adjust the ingredients as necessary to yield 6 cups. For boxed mixes, use two boxes; you will have some extra batter. You can also bake the bottom portion of the cupcake on its own, using one box of mix, and then fill the cooled top portion of the pan with ice cream. Freeze the ice cream top until it is solid, and place it on the frosted cupcake base just before serving.
To cook your giant cupcake, you'll need to preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and if you're using a metal pan, thoroughly grease and flour the pan before adding the batter. Take care to grease all of the crevices to prevent the cake from sticking. Avoid filling the pans all the way to the top; leave at least a half inch of space to accommodate the expanding batter and prevent it from overflowing.
After baking the cake for 50 minutes, check it with a cake tester to see if it's done, adding time in two-minute increments until the cake is finished baking. Because the top portion of the cake has less batter and cooks faster, you can prevent burning by filling only the bottom portion of the pan with batter, cooking for 15 minutes, and then adding batter to the top portion for the remainder of the cooking time.
Once the cake is baked and cooled, it helps to level the two pieces so they fit together better. Use a serrated knife to trim the layers. An easy trick to get even layers is to place the cooled cake pieces back into the pan and use the pan as a guide for trimming the pieces. You can save the excess cake pieces and serve them with ice cream later on.
Spread a thin layer of frosting or mousse on the cake layers as an adhesive to hold the top and bottom together. You can also add filling to the cake by scooping out the center of the bottom portion and filling it with mousse or ice cream, or by using a "cupcake plunger," available at kitchen and home stores, to create multiple holes in the cake to add filling. If you intend to cover the entire outside of the cake with frosting, you can also cut the base into layers, add filling, and re-stack the layers into one cake.
While you can always decorate your giant cupcake creation to resemble a giant cupcake -- try using jelly beans or fruit candies to create large sprinkles on top -- there are endless options for decorating the cake. For example, you can use brown or white icing or fondant on the base in a basket weave pattern and cover the top portion with flowers, either fondant or sugared real flowers. Or create a mushroom or fairy house cake by turning the base upside down before placing the top on, then decorating appropriately.