Anyone know where the bakers get their recipes from or if they make up their own recipes.
How would you go about making up your own cupcake recipe?
I would imagine A LOT of trial and error!
They make them up and know them so well that they know which recipes will accept the required ingredients. This take a high level of skill. You can see how the cupcakes can come out less than perfect and sometimes fail on the show. They also have various skills in sugar work, custards, jams, chocolate, candies, purees, ganache... the list goes on and on.
I agree it is trial and error unless you know someone who can teach you. I got blasted in another thread for saying that scratch baking is difficult and a few came on and said it was easy. The truth is, that there are levels of skill in baking and cooking. I think that mastering a few basic recipes and knowing them well, then adjusting them is the way to learn. You can choose to stay at a basic level of skill, or the sky is the limit on mastering skills and taking the recipes to new levels.
It helps to understand the science of baking if you want to develop recipes. With study, you will be able to read a recipe and know if it will be one you will like. Then you can start to change your favorites to make them your own. I have a large group of balanced recipes and when I develop a recipe, I make a chart of similar recipes of mine and try to keep the new recipe balanced. This seldom makes a good cake the first try. Good, maybe, but I always shoot for the best I have ever had. That takes time and baking the recipe over and over to get it right. On more difficult experiments, my magic number seems to be an average of seven tries. I make them all back-to-back so that I can keep notes of my changes and finally get it to where I want it to be in taste and texture.
So start by really getting to know some basic flavors that can be changed, like white or yellow, which can easily take on an additional flavor. Start by just changing the extract or adding zests. Then you can work on adding something like fruit, a little at a time and adjusting the other ingredients. Study similar recipes and see correlations in the ingredient amounts. Then fail six times and seven may be a charm. So you really have to love to bake to make your own recipes, but there is such pride in knowing that you created an exceptional recipe.