What are pull-apart cupcakes? Pull-apart cupcakes have the look of a sheet cake but the ease of portioning. You don't need a cake knife to divvy the cupcakes, just pull apart. Pull apart cupcakes are great for kids' birthdays, bridal showers, or any other event where many people are celebrating. Some bakers may call them a "cupcake cake" but to many, a "cupcake cake" is a cake shaped like a cupcake, not one made from cupcakes.
The benefit of pull-apart cupcakes is that you can easily take what you want without using a knife. People like portion control when eating snacks and monkey bread is gaining in popularity just like pull-apart cupcakes for the same reason. Another benefit to pull-apart cupcakes is that the baker has more flexibility to get creative. They can make the cake into different shapes other the rectangle of a standard sheet cake.
Assembling Pull-Apart Cupcakes
Baking the cupcakes is the easy part. The difficulty comes in assembling the cupcakes together and making a flat surface to put a layer of frosting so that it looks like a sheet cake. First, the cupcakes should be completely cool before assembling. You could bake them a day or two in advance.
Second, the cupcakes should be the same height. It's important to measure out the same amount of batter when the cupcakes so that the dome of the cupcakes are the same. Once you arrange the cupcakes into the shape you want, then the question is how do you fill the gap between the cupcakes. You can stagger the cupcakes to minimize the gaps in between.
After the cupcakes are arranged, then you use frosting and a cake scraper to level the pull apart so that the surface is flat. To keep the cupcakes stationary, place a dollop of frosting on the bottom of each cupcake. You may need to use an offset spatula for the corners and the edges. There are several ways to do fill the gap.
Some people place small cookies–like vanilla wafers or sandwich cookies–in the gap. Others have created an edible bridge using small cookies, fruit, or a couple of thin pretzel sticks to float the frosting on. Jumbo marshmallows are also good to place in between the cupcakes. Another option is to make square cupcakes like brownies which are pretty easy to handle.