After weeks glued to the Great British Bake Off we are inspired to get baking, so who better to turn to for baking tips than the queen of the cupcake Lily Vanilli? The baker is known for her magical (and delicious) creations, which are sprinkled with purple petals, berries and cut flowers. We are big fans of a centrepiece you can eat here at Grazia HQ - check out the towering Crispello masterpiece she created above.. We grilled her on healthy cupcakes (apparently this is possible), her top tips for newbie bakers and her ultimate recipes. Read below for Lily's top baking tips...
What are your five essential items every wannabe baker should have in their cupboard?
Good salt (like Malden), Good chocolate, fresh seasonal fruit, good unsalted butter and lots of nuts.
What are your top baking tips for new bakers?
Don't give up - there is a technical side to baking as well as a feel, which you need to acquire, be patient and start again if things go wrong (they will). Also check the size of your cake pan. A lot of people spend time and money on following a recipe exactly and then tip the batter into whatever pan they happen to have, which ruins the cake.
What's the most common mistake people make when baking cupcakes?
It is important to fill the cases with the right amount of mixture. Always check the recipe for guidance on this as it often varies.
How can you make a cupcake healthier?
I use lots of vegetables in cooking, which is absolutely no compromise on taste. Beetroots, parsnips, courgettes, carrot, sweet potato all have a lovely flavour and natural sweetness and can be grated into a cake batter.
The biggest baking disaster you've ever had?
I made a cake sculpture that was exhibited at the V&A Museum, which collapsed overnight. I had to rebuild it, it was pretty scary.
The weirdest cake you've ever been commissioned to make?
I once made a life-sized replica of a woman's boyfriend's head (she commissioned it) - I delivered it in a box and it looked like a scene from the movie Se7en.
How many cupcakes do you make a week?
It varies but up to 1,000 a day sometimes.
What are your favourite ideas for making a birthday cake as a present?
I always make something bespoke and something new. I have this theory that if you're going to have something so indulgent as a cake it should be exactly how you like it - from the flavour to the design.
Which is your favourite type of cake?
I love a really light vanilla sponge with pomegranate and coconut.
Who is your favourite chef?
I really like the food Konrad Lindholm is making over at Floyd's on Shacklewell Lane. It's simple seasonal food that is hearty and delicious.
Do you think knonuts could overtake cupcakes?
I think it has been a long time since cupcakes were a trend - they've become everyday items. I doubt that would happen with the kronut, although I bet they taste good!
Tell us about your work with Cadbury Crispello?
I've been working with them to create a simple but visually stunning dinner party piece. The idea was to re-invent the traditional croquembouche, creating a fully edible tower. The idea came about because the Crispellos are easy to build with as they are shaped like little chocolate bricks, but the wafer and mousse centre is actually very light so they stack nicely.
Visit Lily's blog to see her baking masterpieces...