A money-saving offer to friends to bake cupcakes for their wedding led Stefani to blogging about recipes and to create the Cupcake Project... Q How did you first become interested in cupcakes and baking? My mom was always a from-scratch baker and I loved baking with her. I adore the magical transformation that happens to batter in the oven. Q When and why did you decide to get the Cupcake Project started? I started the blog in 2007 when two of my good friends were getting married and wanted cupcakes at their wedding. We all know how expensive cupcakes can be, so I offered to bake their cupcakes for them to save them money. Having never baked cupcakes before, I thought they would turn down my offer. But they said, “Yes!” For the nine months leading up to their wedding, I baked them a different cupcake every week. I started the blog to keep track of all the cupcake recipes. Q How do you go about developing new recipes for cupcakes? I start with tried and true recipes and play with ways to make my recipes different and better. Q How do you come up with new flavour combos? I get inspiration in the meals I eat at local restaurants and in my travels. I get inspiration from the food that I grow in my garden, from TV, novels, cookbooks and other bloggers – basically, everywhere I look! Q What type of response have you had to setting up the Cupcake Project? People have enjoyed following my kitchen experiments. I have been told that I’ve inspired them to be creative in their own kitchens and even to start their own bakeries. Q What are your top tips for baking perfect cupcakes? Don’t worry about baking perfect cupcakes! Have fun and play with ideas and ingredients that you love. Your cupcakes are bound to taste great, and if they aren’t as pretty as you hoped they would be, you can always cover them with frosting! Q What’s the key to making good frosting? Start with quality ingredients – using real butter and high quality chocolate makes a huge difference. Q What’s your absolute favourite cupcake? There is no one perfect cupcake, but my Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes sure come close. They are moist and have a nice dome and a cake that is far more than a frosting delivery mechanism. I developed the recipe with a team of 50 test bakers, and over 60% of them said it was the best vanilla cupcake they had ever eaten. Q What’s the craziest cupcake you’ve ever created? Crazy and successful – cupcakes baked in eggshells. Crazy and a total flop – corned beef and cabbage cupcakes. Q What do you enjoy most about baking cupcakes in particular? Cupcakes are much more forgiving than cakes. Plus, if you eat one before bringing them to a party, no one will ever know! Q You push the boundaries of cupcakes quite a lot – in your eyes, when does a cupcake stop being a cupcake? I don’t get hung up on technicalities. If it is baked in a cup and looks like a cupcake (even if the frosting is really mashed potatoes), I’m going to call it a cupcake. You can’t stop me! Q What do you have planned for the rest of the year? You can expect new creative cupcake recipes as well as unique pies, cookies and frozen treats! For more information, please visit Stefani’s website, www.cupcakeproject.com, where you’ll find lots of great recipes, tips and more!
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