Cupcake sizes explained

Baked deliciousness comes in many shapes and sizes. The Hummingbird Bakers explain the difference between fairy cakes and cupcakes and offer their tips for perfect cupcake sizing.

Bite-sized mini cupcakes, dainty fairy cakes, generous American cupcakes… when it comes to baking, there’s no one-size-fits-all rule!

In a quick Q & A, our bakers share their answers to some of the more frequently asked questions concerning cake sizes.  

What is the difference between a fairy cake and a cupcake?

Cupcakes are bigger than fairy cakes and use a generous amount of frosting on top. In comparison, fairy cakes are often drizzled with icing rather than piled high with the buttercream or cream cheese frostings that American-style cupcakes are famous for.  

How can I get my cupcakes to turn out the same size?

If you want to ensure even-sized cupcakes, a food portioner can be a great gadget to have in your utensil drawer.

Food portioners can be purchased from specialist cookware shops and resemble an ice cream scoop. These allow you to scoop up the same volume of batter into each case. And we use them too!

Ever since we scooped up the first batch of cupcake mixture at our Notting Hill branch back in 2004, we’ve used the same food portioning scoops to ensure bite-for-bite our cupcake sponges are a uniform size.  

Can I use a food portioner to scoop my frosting?

Yes indeed, scoop away! Using a spoon or spatula can make it tricky to get the same amount of frosting onto each one. Opting for a food portioner instead can make it easier to judge the quantity needed. Unless you are entering your cupcakes into a competition, don’t worry if your cupcakes have a little character!  

I made cupcakes with gluten-free ingredients, but they are smaller. Have I done something wrong?

Substituting regular flour for gluten-free flour can result in slightly smaller sized cakes – don’t panic, this is perfectly normal.

We’ve actually increased the size of our Made Without cupcakes as their special combination of ingredients causes them to rise slightly less than our regular recipe.

We get around this by using more mixture and similarly you can experiment at home if you’d like to increase the size of your gluten-free bakes.  

It’s worth noting that any substitutions will alter the final product if you’re following a recipe and any alterations in size can change the cooking times required.

For more baking tips and advice on converting cake sizes, please visit our Baking FAQs page.