I know I said I would post some tips so here you go. (sorry it took so long)
Ingredients- As always it's best to have the freshest ingredients you can find, and this goes for all baking/cooking. However it's sometimes hard to find fresh everything. And yes I have to agree with the cook books that having room temperature ingredients is better but most times I forget, (I mean who has time to set the eggs out a half hour before you're going to use them!)
Preparation- Preparing your ingredient and reading over your recipe is essential especially if it's a complicated recipe and/or you haven't made it before. You don't want to get half way through mixing and find out that it has to sit in the fridge for 3 hours. I usually read over the recipe 2-3 times before I start to 1. make sure I have everything and know what I'm doing and 2. See if I want to change or substitute anything.
Pre-heating- I would suggest pre-heating your oven before you start unless your recipe says other-wise. If you haven't tried the recipe before or it will take a long time to make before it needs to go in the oven, then you could probably turn on the oven sometime in the middle of the process. Just remember to turn it off when you're done.
Mixing- Mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately before you mix everything together is the best way to insure everything is properly distributed. And always make sure the batter is all the way mixed up you don't want to be spooning out the batter and find that some of the flour is still at the bottom of the bowl.
Spooning out the batter- The best way I've found to get the batter in the cupcake tins is to use a ice cream scoop. You know the kind with a really round scoop and the little thing that moves back and forth to get everything out when you squeeze the handle. They look like a bigger version of a cookie scoop. If you still don't know what I'm talking about I pity you because they make baking cupcakes a whole lot faster.
Backing- Now obviously the recipe you use will give an amount of time that you should bake them, however every oven is different so always check your cupcakes before you take the out of the oven.
I test cakes by sticking a thin knife in the middle and pulling it out to see if the cake is done all the way through. With cupcakes I don't like to do that because they are smaller, and usually by lightly touching the top of the cupcake you can tell when they are done (it should feel firm and bounce back slightly when you touch it).
Hope you all enjoyed this post. I'm sorry to say that I probably won't be posting any time soon, we leave at the end of the month and are going on a trip on our way home. I will post as soon as I can and hopefully have some pretty pictures to share!
Keep it sweet,