Why are the tops of my cupcakes sticky?

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Cupcakes are no longer only for elementary school birthday celebrations. Cupcakes are now gourmet sweets that are supposed to please in a variety of ways, including how they appear, how they taste, and how their texture feels on your tongue.

It is one of the reasons why sticky-topped cupcakes are so upsetting for bakers, both professional and amateur. It has an impact on the texture, as well as the appearance and flavor.

In this essay, we’ll look at what exactly causes cupcakes to be sticky on top. Next, explain how to prevent (or, in the worst-case situation, repair) a sticky-topped cupcake.

Continue reading to find out how to solve your sticky cupcake problem!

What Causes Cupcakes to Be Sticky on Top?

A chemical interaction between the sugar (an important component) and the water in the air is the main cause of cupcakes with sticky tops. Sugar inherently draws water due to its chemical composition (the scientific term is hygroscopic).

As the water binds with the sugar on the top of the cupcake, it forms a sticky film that lasts long after the cupcakes have been properly baked and cooled. You know what we’re talking about if you’ve ever dripped water into a sugar dish or added too much sugar to a liquid combination.

Moreover, adding too much brown sugar in your cupcakes can exacerbate the issue since brown sugar is more hygroscopic than white sugar. The most hygroscopic sugar is dark brown sugar.

This interaction between sugar and water often happens during the cooling phase rather than the cooking process. Cupcakes did not have enough space to cool in these circumstances.

When they cool, cupcakes leak moisture (as do almost all pastries). If you store cupcakes before they have fully cooled, the extra water that they leak will settle right back onto the top of the cupcakes.

Moreover, if cupcakes are left out in a very humid setting, natural humidity in the air may accomplish the same thing over time.

Now that we’ve identified the most prevalent cause of sticky tops on cupcakes, we can focus on avoiding it from occurring in the first place.

How to Avoid Cupcakes with Sticky Tops

Choose your recipe carefully

There is a reason why there isn’t just one cupcake recipe that everyone follows every time they make them; varied baking circumstances, ingredients, and taste preferences all have an affect on the final result.

While deciding on a recipe, consider the balance of dry and wet components, as well as the quantities of sugar and brown sugar. Take your climate (humidity, dryness) into account as well.

Examine the descriptions of the recipes you’re considering since they may state explicitly whether they’re intended for moist cupcakes, sticky cupcakes, or the reverse.

Follow your recipe strictly

Cooking is an art, whereas baking is a science; this implies that there is very little wiggle room in baking recipes.

Even little changes to the recipe might result in sticky topping or a far worse finish. Take the risk only once you have a lot of experience.

Measure your ingredients by weighing them

When it comes to baking, the appropriate number and amounts of components are critical.

Even the greatest measuring cups are, however, imprecise for a number of reasons. We highly advise purchasing a kitchen scale and using it to measure all ingredients, particularly while baking.

Bake thoroughly

Don’t risk failure by removing your cupcakes from the oven before they’re done.

Cupcakes should be absolutely dry to the touch before being removed from the oven; if they are not, do not remove them.

Many factors influence bake time, including the actual temperature of your oven (we recommend using an oven thermometer for the most accuracy), your climate, your cookware, how frequently you open it (pro tip: open your oven as infrequently as possible, especially while baking), the exact proportion of your ingredients, and more.

Cool completely

We mean absolutely! Since water is released from the cupcake during the chilling process, any leftover heat within or on the cupcakes will result in excess moisture. Once kept, the moisture will make its way to the sugary surface of your cupcakes, resulting in a sticky mess the next time you attempt to eat them.

To ensure that your cupcakes are thoroughly cold, put them on the counter for approximately an hour to cool at room temperature. Next, cover them and place them in the refrigerator for three hours or overnight.

Refrigerating the cupcakes will not hurt them and will ensure that they are thoroughly chilled. Just remember to take them out a couple of hours before serving to allow them to soften again.

Store properly

Cupcakes should always be stored in an airtight, totally closed container with a tiny bit of space between them.

Its container may be kept on the counter or in the refrigerator. If you want to preserve them longer, put them in the fridge, but take them out at least an hour before eating to soften the texture.

Beware of your climate and the weather

Remember how we said that moisture in the air interacting with the sugar in the cupcake is the major reason of stickiness on the tops of cupcakes?

Since there is so much more moisture in the air, cupcakes prepared and kept in humid locations are more prone to sticky tops. If you live in a humid climate, consider a cupcake recipe that has little to no brown sugar and more dry ingredients.

Moreover, while it’s humid outdoors, it’s even more crucial to keep your cupcakes in an airtight container.

Solutions for Cupcakes with Sticky Tops

If you’re anything like us, you despise wasting food. Moreover, you presumably spent a significant portion of your day preparing those cupcakes in the first place, so let’s look at some options for rescuing them.

Frost them

The most apparent answer for a batch of sticky-topped cupcakes is to cover the whole thing with scrumptious frosting. Even a small covering will help to conceal the stickiness below. After all, the purpose of icing is to be sticky.

There are numerous delicious store-bought frostings to select from, so you don’t even have to go to the hassle of creating it yourself. You should have a can or two in the back of your pantry just in case.

You may also cover the tops of the cupcakes with a glaze, jelly or jam, or another similar delicacy. You could also try sprinkling some cotton candy on top of your frosting; just don’t put it on too soon or it will melt before you can enjoy it.

Use the stickiness to your advantage

Cover the cupcakes with something else, especially if icing isn’t your thing, and utilize the stickiness that’s already on top of the cupcake to get it to attach.

This topping might be anything from sprinkles to chocolate chips to almonds to a variety of other options. The only limit is your imagination!

Freeze them

It is well knowledge that freezers cause food to dry out. Thus, in this situation, take advantage of it by placing your overly-moist cupcakes in the freezer.

Let them to totally freeze and allow them time to fully benefit from the freezer’s capabilities. That should take around 24 hours.

Sprinkle on something to absorb the stickiness

While you may have less success with this approach and risk destroying the cupcakes totally, try putting a little sugar, confectioners sugar, or even a little dusting of flour on top.

The addition of these dry components should, in principle, absorb some of the extra moisture and conceal the error underlying.

Scrape off the sticky exterior

To be honest, this is probably only an option if you plan on freezing them afterwards.

But, you may scrape off a very thin layer of the sticky exterior with a serrated knife and discard it. Next, use icing or another topping to cover the exposed tops.

Try a different recipe

The issue may not be anything you’re doing incorrectly, particularly if you’ve tried most of the solutions on this list and are still getting sticky cupcakes on top.

When selecting a new recipe, consider the quantity of white sugar and brown sugar, particularly when compared to your previous version. Look for cupcake recipes that clearly mention that they produce non-sticky sweets.

Eat them anyway!

So what if your cupcakes aren’t perfect?

Even though they have a sticky top, they probably taste very excellent. Therefore embrace the imperfections by eating and loving them!


How do you keep cupcakes from sweating?

Allowing cupcakes to cool for at least an hour on a wire rack helps avoid condensation. In the freezer, condensation causes ice to build on the cupcake, resulting in a mushy cupcake when defrosted.

Why are my cupcakes too moist?

Excess moisture might result from a very wet recipe (for example, cupcakes with fresh fruit in the sponge) or from the cupcakes not being cooked at a high enough temperature or for a long enough time.

Why do my fairy cakes go sticky on top?

The secret to flawlessly raised fairy cakes is to work quickly and gently. Sticky buns often appear after the cakes have cooled in their tins, allowing moisture to accumulate around the newly cooked sponge.

What temperature do you bake cupcakes at?

Most cupcakes bake nicely at temperatures ranging from 325°F to 375°F. Fortunately, these are also the temperatures at which cakes are often cooked.

How do bakeries keep cupcakes fresh?

Maintain cupcakes at room temperature.

According to the bakery, cupcakes are best kept unfrosted and wrapped in plastic. Wait until your unfrosted cupcakes are absolutely cold before wrapping them, as any moisture trapped inside might make the pastries mushy.

How do you fix sticky muffin tops?

Put a few saltine crackers in the container with the muffins to absorb excess moisture and keep the muffins from getting sticky. Close the container with a layer of paper towels on top of the muffins to absorb any extra moisture.

Are cupcakes supposed to be moist on top?

If cupcakes get sticky on top after cooling, it is usually because they were kept in an airtight container before they were entirely cold, causing condensation to develop, or because they were cooked and chilled in a humid climate.

Why are my cupcakes gummy?

If your cupcakes have a gummy feel despite following a tried-and-true recipe, you most likely overmixed the batter. Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, simply mix until the ingredients are barely blended. Overmixing the batter might result in gummy cupcakes.

How do you remove sticky cake?

Let it to cool. Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, allow the cake to cool fully to enable the structure to firm.
… Loosen the edges.
Turn the cake upside down.
Give it some time…
It may be heated or chilled.
Squeeze the cake out.
Serve it in the skillet.
Grease the frying pan.
More to come…
•Jun 14, 2022

How do you keep a cake crispy on top?

Your objective is to prevent condensation.

If moisture reaches the surface and comes into contact with chilly air, such as that found in a normal room, it condenses on the outer crust, making it soggy. If it comes into contact with heated air (like as your still-warm oven), it evaporates, leaving the crust crunchy.

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