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What in the world are you supposed to do with those little paper liners in between the foil cupcake liners? I’ll tell you!
The other day my friend Shannan posted this revelation on Facebook: “So all my life, I have been leaving the paper liners inside the foil cupcake liners when I bake. Guess what, y’all? YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO!”
I chuckled to myself. Of course you’re supposed to remove the paper from foil cupcake liners. It says so right there on the package!
I thought Shannan and my husband were the only people who didn’t know this. But based on my extensive research (which consisted of reading the comments on her Facebook post) I realized that most people were doing this wrong. Am I the only person who reads instructions?
[Now, I should note here that when I first wrote this post, all of the foil liners I had in my kitchen had instructions on the package clearly stating that you’re supposed to remove the paper separators. But people in the comments and on Facebook told me that they know how to read, and their liners had no such instructions. Know what? They were right! The ones I have in my cabinet right now don’t have instructions. The ones I directed you to in that link up there don’t have instructions. So it seems to be hit or miss: some companies are clear and helpful, others just assume you were born knowing what to do.]Are you using foil cupcake liners wrong? Find out the secret you've probably been missing!
Those paper separators are just there to keep the foil cupcake liners from sticking together. Even though they look the same as the non-stick paper liners, they’re not. Good paper liners are usually coated with either quilon or silicone, both of which keep your muffins and cupcakes from sticking to the paper liners. The paper separators don’t have that coating.
Paper separator test
Will they work? Sort of. They won’t be terrible, but they won’t be great.
Here’s a cupcake baked in a regular paper separator. You can see that some of the cupcake stuck to the paper as I was removing it.
Now, here’s a cupcake baked in a non-stick paper liner. That’s a big difference!
Cookie sheet vs. muffin pan
But what about the other directions on the foil cupcake liner package?
That’s right, you’re supposed to put the foil cupcake liners on a cookie sheet!
Will it hurt anything to use the foil cupcake liners in a muffin pan? No. But you’re wasting money. If you have muffin pans, you can use paper liners, which are cheaper.
Now, Shannan pointed out that she doesn’t put her foil cupcake liners on a cookie sheet because she’s afraid that they will spread out flat. They won’t. But, they will spread out some.
Here are cupcakes baked in foil cupcake liners. The ones on the left were baked in a muffin pan, the ones on the right baked on a cookie sheet.
I’d filled all of them 3/4 full, but because the ones on the cookie sheet spread out as I added the batter, those ended up being 42 grams, versus 31 grams for the ones in the muffin pan. If you want bigger cupcakes, great! But if you’re trying to make normal-sized cupcakes, you really need to use a muffin tin, no matter which kind of liner you use.
Of course, you could just fill the cookie sheet ones half-way instead, but they’ll be wide rather than tall. Or, go ahead and fill them three-quarters for bigger cupcakes and a wider area to decorate. Just remember that you’ll end up with fewer cupcakes.
Decorative cupcake liners
There are also foil cupcake liners that have decorative paper on the outside. Not only are these pretty, but I’ve found that they don’t spread out quite as much when baked on cookie sheets. The foil combined with the paper makes them a bit stiffer than the ones that are just foil.
The bottom line is, even if you’re doing it wrong, you’re still going to wind up with something delicious and acceptable. But if you want your cupcakes and muffins to be prettier, follow the instructions! And if you’re using muffin tins, you can totally get away with using pretty paper liners. No reason to waste money on the foil liners!