Chiffon CUPcakes

Ever wonder why they’re called cupcakes? Well, probably because you bake them in cups!

Seriously. Once I found out that my dairy dishes are oven-proof, I knew I had to make these. I watched Alton make them a few times, and once my Good Eats 3 arrived, it made me want to try it even more. So when Stephanie came over and we made dinner for some friends, we knew his was the perfect dessert to make. Each of us would have a mug, and we would freeze the cupcakes we made in tins. Yum! These came out light, fluffy, and overall delicious, especially with Alton’s buttercream spread on top.

Making this recipe, we were very thankful that I have two Kitchen Aid bowls. Actually, it would have been more convenient to have three. We mixed the batter together in one bowl, then whipped the egg whites in the clean one. Life is easy with a dishwasher and extra equipment.

Now, these didn’t rise as much as Alton’s, but I’m really not sure why. The egg whites were whipped to soft peaks and we measured the ingredients accurately. At first I thought they were ruined, but when I tasted the light and fluffy batter I guessed that maybe my mugs are just giant. And hey, they are pretty big. And the dessert was delicious.

Chiffon Cupcakes, adapted from Alton Brown:


  • 5 1/4 ounces cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside. Or, place 12 oven proof coffee mugs on a baking sheet and set aside. Or, what I did, line 1 12-cup muffin tin with liners and prepare 6 coffee mugs on a baking sheet and set aside.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks and 5 ounces of the sugar and mix on high for 2 minutes, until pale ribbons form.

5. Add the water, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine.

6. Add the dry ingredients and whisk till just combined. Transfer batter to a large bowl (unless you have two mixer bowls) and set aside.

7. In your newly cleaned mixer bowl (or if you have 2 like me, just take it out of the cabinet!), combine the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk on high until mixture is foamy. Decrease speed to low and add the remaining ounce of sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

8. Add one-third of the egg whites into the batter and whisk until combined. Add the remaining egg whites and fold in gently.

9. Scoop the batter into the prepared tins and mugs.

10. Place muffin tins in middle rack of the oven and mugs on the bottom. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

11. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.