Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wedding Cake Love

Last month I attended a cousin's wedding in Florence, SC, an event which ordinarily wouldn't merit mention on this blog.  The couple in question, however, was originally from the DC area and the wedding cake(s) were from their favorite DC bakery: Cake Love.

When I first heard the touching story of how their friends carefully drove the cakes seven hours from DC to South Carolina, I groaned.  For a cake aficionado like myself, there's nothing worse than the torture of eyeing a wedding cake all night long, patiently waiting for the end of the reception so you can freaking eat the cake already, only to discover that the beautifully decorated cake tastes like toothpaste frosted cardboard.

[As long-time readers of this blog may know, I'm not the biggest fan of Cake Love - popular opinion seems to agree that their sparsely frosted cupcakes are way too dry (even after allowed to come to 72°F) and their runny buttercream is tasty but has obvious texture issues.]

After the cake was cut I forced myself to wait an excruciating 15 minutes before I ate my slice (it was still quite cold in the center), all the while mentally preparing myself for disappointment.  Long after everyone else had finished their cake and I couldn't stand the wait any longer, I took a bite, even though the center of my slice was still quite cold.  I was shocked to discover that the cake was really good.  In fact, it was one of the best wedding cakes I had ever tasted, if not THE best.  Holy crap!

I'd grabbed a slice from the ganache-covered cake which appeared to be alternating layers of white cake, chocolate cake, and some sort of white mousse with whole raspberries mixed in.  The chocolate cake was moist and rich, the white cake was soft and sweet, and the chocolate ganache was smooth and creamy with a dark cocoa flavor.  The white mousse was sweet and fluffy and the fresh raspberries added bursts of tart flavor that complimented the sweetness of the cake quite nicely.  My only complaint was that there was a too much mousse filling for the amount of cake - I think half as much would've been perfection.

Of the twenty weddings I've been to, two of the cakes were memorable for being good, and this was one of them.  Now I know - skip the cupcakes at Cake Love and drop the extra $4 for a slice of their delicious cake.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

My roommate hosted an awesome pre-Thanksgiving dinner at our house the weekend before real Thanksgiving.  Sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar are my favorite part of Thanksgiving, so I decided to make some sweet potato cupcakes:

These were actually a simple twist on the pumpkin spice cupcakesHow to Eat a Cupcake's pumpkin cupcake recipe with mashed sweet potato substituted for the pumpkin, topped with Chockylit's cream cheese frosting

My First Paid Cupcake Gig!

While I was vacationing in San Francisco in mid-November I got a text message from my roommate asking me to call her ASAP.  Thinking something horrible had happened I called her immediately.  As soon as she picked up the phone she asked "Do you think you could make 120 cupcakes?  By Tuesday?"  It turned out that my roommate had been talking up my cupcakes to her coworkers, and her boss asked her if I could make cupcakes for a special treat for the crew of the movie she was working on.  Seeing as how I was getting back into town on Monday afternoon, I thought it unlikely I could have 120 cupcakes finished by Tuesday.  After a brief conversation with her boss, she asked "What about Wednesday?"  And so I found myself with my first paid cupcake gig.

At first I planned on doing three or four different flavors, but worried that I wouldn't finish in time I decided to keep it simple(r).  Since people really enjoyed the pumpkin spice cupcakes I made a few weeks earlier, I decided to make them again.  I also decided to decorate each cupcake with a fondant Θ and Π, the name of the sorority in the movie.

I was so stressed about finishing in time that I totally forgot to take step-by-step pictures, or pictures of the final 159 cupcakes laid out on my dining room table.  Here are a few pics that I did remember to snap:

I spent a total of ~20 hours on the cupcakes, though I had an additional 10 hours of help on the fondant cutting and assembly.  A lot of the time came from having to do multiple batches of things - my mixer could only hold one batch of batter at a time (I made 5 total) and my oven could only cook 2 dozen cupcakes at a time.  I probably could've reduced my total time by 75% if I had a commercial mixer and oven.

All in all it was a great experience, though exhausting and not super profitable.  (It worked out to ~$7/hr.)  I think I'll leave the professional baking to the real professionals from now on.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Super Scary Spider Cake

Halloween this year was extremely hectic.  I'd spent the previous two weeks volunteering 15+ hours a day for a presidential nominee's campaign, but I'd promised to make a cake for a friend's Halloween party and so I carved out some time to do so.  An extremely cute boy who was going to be in attendance at this party requested "a giant spider cake eating a bunch of smaller cakes with its hands".  I'd like to think I achieved his vision:

I was totally exhausted and I felt a bit guilty spending a lot of time making a cake from scratch when my candidate needed me, so I cheated.  The red velvet cake was made from box mix and the chocolate fudge frosting was from a tub.  I made the eyes and pincers out of fondant, and the legs were chocolate fudge Pirouette wafers held together with toothpicks, fondant, and frosting.  All told it took me about five hours to make the cake - four hours to bake the cakes and make the legs, eyes, and pincers, and another hour to frost and assemble.

Here's a pic of me in my Halloween costume with my roommate:

Only one person at the party was able to come close to identifying it.  I was a cross between myself and The Son of Man.  Many thanks to my awesome artist roommate for making the foamboard cupcake!

P.S.  I think the cute boy liked the cake.  We started dating a few days later =)

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

A couple of months ago my roommate had some leftover pumpkin guts from some pies she made.  One lazy Sunday afternoon I converted them into pumpkin spice cupcakes with ginger cream cheese frosting:

I used this pumpkin cupcake recipe from How to Eat a Cupcake, though I substituted dark brown sugar and granulated sugar for the light brown sugar.  For the frosting I turned to Chockylit's trusted cream cheese recipe, but with ~1/8 cup of diced candied ginger thrown in.  I garnished the cupcakes with graham crackers as an homage to my roommate's pumpkin pies.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Boston Market Update

Long time no post!  I was out of town for most of the month of November, and have gotten really behind on my blog posts and directory updates.  In the coming weeks look for writeups of my Cupcake Crawls around San Francisco, Chicago, Orlando, and Washington DC.  I'll also be posting about some recent baking adventures including a scary Halloween cake and my first for-money cupcake commission!

In the meantime here's an update of the Boston Market Cupcake Experiment.  Everyone in my office agrees that there's been no visible change to the cupcake since we bought it almost eighteen weeks ago.  Looks like I'm going to be eating this thing in a couple of weeks.  My coworkers have offered to drive me to the ER so I can eat it out in the parking lot, just in case...
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 15
Week 16

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tour De Cupcake

The Bike Kitchen, a do-it-yourself bike repair shop in San Francisco, is hosting the Tour De Cupcake bike race to raise money for their move to a new space.  The TDC is on Sunday, October 19th, and involves racing a course interspersed with various "cupcake checkpoints".  Bonus points are given if the biker consumes a cupcake at a checkpoint.

Those of you in San Francisco should totally check this out.  It sounds awesome!  If any of you make it to the race, send along pictures and let me know which cupcakeries/bakeries were used as checkpoints.