Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.
And with social media bombarding us with filtered beauty on a daily basis, who knows what true beauty is any more?
When I started my cake business journey, I longed to make cakes in all sorts of wonderful flavours - but time and again, the orders that rolled in were for beautifully decorated cakes but generally always with vanilla sponge, vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam.
I got so frustrated by this. My carefully curated menu grew cobwebs.
Fast forward three years, and now - like Henry Ford - I only sell vanilla. Well he only sold black cars. But the analogy is there or thereabouts.
After baking thousands of cupcakes, I've refined my method and now know most of the secrets to perfect cupcakes every time.
The holy grail for cake artists is the flat-topped cupcake. It gives a nice surface to pipe on.
What most won't tell you is that a cupcake that has a little rise to it can actually add height and dimension to your floral piping - so if you have some that are a little less than flat-top perfection, experiment with a multi-flower design. You can angle small flowers up against the rise and it can definitely give character.
Some of the best designers will start with a flat top and then lump a giant bulge of buttercream on top to achieve the same effect. If I need that - I just bake my cupcakes so they are a little 'peakier' than normal.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my three top tips to flat topped perfection.
1) Don't overmix your batter. I use the all-in-one egg-weight method for cupcakes and mix for exactly two minutes in my stand mixer or with a hand mixer. If you have unmixed flour in the bowl after this time, just fold it in with a rubber spatula.
2) Get to know your oven. I bake mine at 150C fan for 27 minutes. Baking is a science so there are loads of variables. The size of your cupcakes will also mean the cooking time and temperature may be different for you. So you might need to bake at 140C for longer. Or 150C for less. Practise makes perfect. And if you're still getting peaks despite lowering the temperature. get a separate oven thermometer. They only cost a few pounds but might reveal that your oven thermostat is a bit off. 3) Be consistent in your measuring. You want your cases about 2/3 full. I use a tablespoon to scoop and a dessert spoon to scrape (check out this insta reel to see how I do it). An ice cream scoop can work well too - look with the ones with the swipey arms that will slide the batter into the cup for you. Or if you've nothing better to with your day, you can weigh every single cup. I've seen them do it on Bake Off. I'd rather spend my day stuffing mushrooms (it's a Shirley Conran quote).
And if you fancy further beautifying your cupcakes, check out my beginners cupcake bouquet tutorial where you'll learn to create four different cupcake styles and wrap them into a beautiful bouquet, perfect for gifting.