Electric mixers make whipping up cupcake batter a synch, but you may have to mix up a batch of cupcakes when your mixer breaks down. When you find yourself without a mixer, hand mixing can get the job done just as well. Hand mixing was the way all cakes, including cupcakes, were made before the mass production of electric mixers. So, with the standard ingredients, a large bowl and a mixing spoon -- ideally a wooden one -- you can mix cupcake batter that results in fluffy cupcakes just like the old days.
Little by Little
You need room temperature ingredients -- they mix more easily than cold ones -- so measure the you need for a batch of cupcakes and leave them, including the dairy products, on the counter for around an hour. Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly first, then beat in the eggs and your liquids like milk and flavorings. Blend in the dry ingredients -- like flour and leavening -- a little at a time.
Put Some Muscle in It
Once all the cupcake ingredients are blended together, mix the batter to prepare it for pouring into baking cups. When hand mixing cake batter, baking institution Betty Crocker recommends beating it at a rate of around 150 strokes per minute. Around one to two minutes is sufficient to mix cupcake batter. Placing your arm around the back of the bowl and tilting it up toward you makes hand mixing less strenuous. As you're beating the batter, if the looks like it needs to be thinned, add a very small amount of liquid.