Bournemouth and I

PUBLISHED: 17:29 21 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:27 20 February 2013

Susanne Masters discovers her inner 'Domestic Goddess' at a cupcake master class

Bournemouth and I

Susanne Masters discovers her inner Domestic Goddess at a cupcake master class

Cupcakes are the new currency. Friends who bring cakes are always welcome visitors. In other contexts cakes can be tactical advantages. I have been advised that taking cakes to meetings at Kew Gardens Herbarium is a good way to get repeat invitations. My PhD supervisor has a soft spot for cakes and when I went to Yorkshire with him for a conference the first port of call was the famous Bettys Tearoom for cakes. In terms of social currency cupcakes trump regular cakes because they are already in individual portion sizes; although there is nothing wrong with having more than one.

I know how to make cakes but cupcake making is an art. So I was delighted to be invited by Rachel Filmer to Lets Make Cupcakes - one of her cupcake making classes. People attending the class had a range of specific queries that highlighted the characteristics of cupcakes; such as how to get all the cakes in a batch exactly the same size with perfect smooth surfaces. Rachel answered all questions with ease. She also has extensive knowledge on cake making equipment and ingredients, so if you are considering different brands and where to buy them her advice is invaluable.

Most of the class was dedicated to the practical exercise of making cupcake decorations. I now know how to make the right consistency of icing and I have learned the knack to squeezing the piping bag without putting icing everywhere. I am perhaps a messy cook; it is not unknown for food to fly up the walls when I am cooking! So it is surprising, even to me, that the delightfully pretty batch of neat and tidy cupcakes you see in the photo above were indeed made by me.

This outstanding result is indicative of Rachels talent in teaching people to form food into elegant shapes without making a mess. I will certainly be thinking a lot more about the finishing touches that transform food from something tasty and functional into something that also looks amazing.

My favourite cupcake recipes are by Erin McKenna the founder of BabyCakes NYC; they taste good enough for people to tussle over who gets the last cake. Shockingly her recipes are vegan and include allergen-free alternatives, which means that everyone can enjoy cakes. I will be combining the techniques l learnt from Rachel with Erins recipes to make cupcakes for all visits to friends, Kew and my supervisors office.

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