Monday, September 19, 2005

Bake Sale - Day One

Okay, I'm going to try to give this Bake Sale the coverage it deserves and then I don't want to talk about cupcakes again for a very, very long time. Capisce, Mafiosi?

If you are going to have a bake sale, make sure it is for a good cause. If you are going to have a Katrina Bake Sale, listen to the stories of affected people that This American Life has been broadcasting, stories that will overwhelm and outrage you, because let me tell you, a bake sale is a freakin' lot of work and you will need to repeat to yourself, over and over as a mantra "This is for a good cause".

Day One - Get Yer Bake On

Cupcake Mafia MVP : SuperSkater

* Came to my place to help me bake

* Chipped in to help purchase ingredients

* Used her mighty biceps to break up a stick of butter which I casually tossed into the cake batter without softening first

* Was not too proud to listen to Maroon 5 as we baked

* Tracked down the elusive Red Hots that I felt were vital to my cupcake success

Saturday afternoon I went shopping for cupcake ingredients including Marshmellow Fluff, because I was smitten with the Queen of Cupcakes' suggestion that I pipe marshmellow cream filling into my Devil's Food cupcakes. I went to two differnt "supermarkets" (I use the term lightly for those of you who don't live in the city and don't know what a New York supermarket is like) and neither carried Fluff. What are local children taking to school for lunch?? I have no idea. At the second supermarket I picked up a couple bags of marshmellows with the insane idea that I could make my own marshmellow cream. While I was out and about I decided to stop at sje's store Red Lipstick to introduce myself to the professional knitwear designer and cool boutique owner. sje was totally sweet; she confessed her love of cake, gave me some tips about where to purchase yarn in the city and while I was in her store Foxy Brown stopped by. Have I mentioned I live in the world's coolest neighborhood?

Around 4pm SuperSkater arrived and it was time to get down to business. SuperSkater stuck it out for nearly three hours until 6 dozen cupcakes had been baked. Sure, some mistakes were made. She forgot to add some vanilla, I acidentally added too much baking powder and I was very caviler with the butter softening. But you have to understand that SuperSkater and I are so witty and fabulous that we were riveted by each other's conversation and could not fully concentrate on the cupcakes. Plus there was pop music. Loud.

As a person who used to make Rice Krispie Treats, I remember that the marshmellow for that treat was just melted down with a little bit of butter. So SuperSkater and I melted a bag and a half of marshmellows with 3 tablespoons of butter. SuperSkater proved quite deft at cutting little holes into the tops of the cupcakes. She experimented with spooning some marshmellow in, but it was a messy, crumbly mess. SuperSkater had to get going to make last wash so I took over with an impromptu pastry bag.

The marshmellow we had created looked like Tacky Glue, the craft glue favored by Girl Scout Troop 852, only it was much, much more adhesive. I could barely squeeze it out of the bag. It stuck to everything, the bag, a knife, my fingers, everything except the cake. I could. Not. Get it into the little cupcake well. After 10 minutes wrestling with the still-warm marshmellow caulking, I gave up. My marshmellow dreams were crushed, but I had to press on. It was for a good cause.

I let the cupcakes cool completely and began work on the chocolate buttercream icing. I was quite nervous about this, but Chockylit's recipie was so easy! But still, hubris was not finished having her way with me. As previously noted, I was unable to purchase any real pastry bags, so I bought some large Zip Loc freezer bags. I cut a slit in the corner of a bag and inserted a classic star tip. I spooned the buttercream into the bag and sealed it, perhaps overfilling the bag. And then I began squeezing. I think my tip was a little small, but sure enough, little ribbons of buttercream came out over my cupcakes. I went to town, squeezing and mashing down the icing. But then I noticed, icing was spilling over the top of the bag. I checked the seal, but I had split the zipper. No matter, I could ignore that. Pipe, pipe, pipe. Then, I sprung a puncture down towards the bottom of my bag. So while I was squuezing out the icing onto the cakes, thin ribbons of icing were decoring my hands. Must persevere. Until one squeeze too many and the tip popped out of the bag with a small chocolate explosion that sent a splat of chocolate icing right onto one of the cupcakes until it looked like a mid-sized dog with food poisoning had passed by my kitchen.

I decided I didn't even like the way the wussy little swirls of buttercream looked so I grabbed a knife and switched to the spackling approach, which had a much more homemade nostalgic look anways. I miked up another batch of butter cream icing, and went to town on the rest of the cupcakes achieving almost a zen-like state of grace, despite the fact that my hands looked like I had been fishing for my crucifix in an outhouse. The last step was to decorate the iced cupcakes with candy discs and Red Hots which of course got everywhere due to baking fatigue, off the chart sugar levels and poor fine motor skills.

By the time I was finished and had washed half the dishes it was after 11pm. My kitchen looked like it had been the site of an Afghani Food Drop, that is, if the Red Cross dropped sacks of flour, confectioner's sugar and Red Hots over the Hindu Kush mountains. I was unsurprised to find buttercream on my face, elbows and hair, but a little shocked to find it on my naked thigh as I undressed for bed. Then I climbed into bed and set my alarm for 9:30am on Sunday morning, which seemed the cruelest blow of all.


jesse said...

"fishing for my crucifix in an outhouse." Das funny.

Addie said...

sorry the ziploc bags didnt work as well as hoped... good story though and the pics looked yummy

Cupcake said...

Jesse, you really should not encourage me.

Addie, I am sure it is my fault entirely for over-filling the bag and then squeezing too hard.

Super Skater said...

I had a feeling the marshmallow filling might not work out. But hey, you should keep it around the apartment for sealing cracks in the walls and other handy work.

Or you could put it in plastic eggs and pass it off as Silly Putty at your next birthday party. I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd be excited to play games to win months-old second-rate Fluff in an oh-so-portable container.

Cupcake said...

SuperSkater, I thought about keeping the marshmellow to caulk my bath tub, but the seal was looking pretty good. So I tossed it with some Honey Bunches of Oats that was going stale and spread it in a bake pan then put it in the fridge. We'll see how it tests for snackability.

Now you have me stresing about the fabulous birthday party I must throw for myself this year.