Monday, October 22, 2012

Love, marriage, and cupcakes

This weekend was the wedding of two dear friends in Brooklyn. In addition to being honored to be invited to the event, I was also given the exciting privilege of baking for it. Luckily, both for the bride and for my own sanity, this did not require trying to erect a multi-tiered wedding cake, but instead to make several dozen mini cupcakes. We decided on minis because there would be mountains of delicious food at the reception (a requirement of wedding receptions that I promise to fully embrace at my own), and people who are stuffed with other food tend to find full-sized cupcakes daunting. I know from personal experience that often when I won't necessarily commit to a full-sized cupcake, I can usually find room for a full-sized cupcake worth of mini cupcakes. This is just how the human brain works.

Prior to the wedding, I baked a series of cupcakes. First, for the bride to taste and choose flavors. And then a few weeks before the wedding, I baked a few dozen just to practice my frosting skills. By the time the actual wedding came around, I was feeling pretty confident. So confident in fact that I decided to do the bulk of the work on the day of the wedding, reasoning that the cupcakes would be fresher. I would not recommend this route personally, but at least 6 dozen cupcakes is not so many in the grand scheme of things. I would have liked to take constant pictures during the process, but two things kept me from doing so. One, my camera is still not reading it's memory card, so the only camera I had at my disposal was the one on my cell phone (which I believe we've established in the past is more of a phone than a camera). Secondly, my hands were shellacked in frosting for much of Saturday morning, and I was too harried to stop, wash them, and take any photos. So all of this is to say that the few photos I'm including are of varying quality and that you will mostly have to trust the vivid (er, hopefully) word pictures I will strive to create.

The chosen menu was 3 dozen apple cupcakes with salted caramel frosting (a fitting cupcake chosen for the season) and 3 dozen lemon cupcakes with lavender frosting (a decidedly more spring flavor palette but the wedding colors centered around purple so I took advantage of that where I could.) For the apple cupcake recipe I used this one with Granny Smiths. The salted caramel frosting was actually just a basic cream cheese frosting base with some salted caramel sauce mixed in. Originally, I'd planned to garnish these with candied pecans, but what I determined in my dry run is that candied pecans on mini cupcakes just look like little turds. Instead, I opted for just simple frosting piping and an extra drizzle of salted caramel sauce on top.

The lemon cupcakes (for which I used this recipe) with lavender frosting (I used a basic crusting buttercream with lavender extract) were the more ambitious cupcake. The bride had picked out a frosting dye which turned out be a lovely pale purple. I decided to make little purple roses on these cupcakes. I bought the appropriate frosting tip and practiced during my dry run. The thing about frosting roses is that they are actually a lot easier than they look. For such a delicate flower with so many petals, they can actually be fairly forgiving flower to create in frosting because if you screw up one layer of petals, it's pretty easy to hide it with the next layer. What isn't easy is making a bunch of them. The strength required to keep a constant pressure on the pastry bag in order to get an even piping causes your hand to get quite sore after just a few flowers. I also made the rather tactical error of going to the gym that morning to clear my head before the baking so I foolishly used valuable hand gripping strength on the pull up bar and rowing machine handle. Another thing I learned from making frosting roses is that, despite being very different botanically, there's actually a very fine line when illustrating them in frosting between roses and cabbages. If you make the center bud too big and then don't angle your petals quite right, you end up with a cabbage rose. This was particularly easy to do once the frosting got too warm. Cabbage roses are a sign to put the pastry bag in the fridge for a minute and speed drink coffee.

Okay, now here are the handful of pictures I have available. I sincerely hope I was able to manage expectations on these earlier.

A single grainy photo I took on my cell phone before actually starting. I call this "It Begins OR The Once and Future Cupcake." 

This is from my dry run. I'm sad it's the only close-up I have because I didn't know what I was doing then, but hey, at least my camera still functioned. This is what a cabbage rose looks like. The effect is particularly pronounced because during the dry run, the only food coloring I could find was green.

The finished cupcakes at the wedding. Again, I can't believe I don't have any close ups of the roses. You'll just have to trust me that they turned out better than the one above.

Update: This photo was just posted by the bride! Don't know who took it, but if you zoom in,  you can see some detail.
I was very nervous during transport (sprung for a cab to take these beauties to the restaurant), but all in all I think they were a success! I got compliments from many a drunken wedding reveler, so I can only consider this a win. More importantly: the bride was beautiful, the couple were beaming with love, and all their friends and loved ones were just as happy to be there on their big day. A lovely day and evening indeed!


  1. Wow, that's really impressive!

  2. Wow -- they look great! How did you start out practicing piping? I imagine that must have been a delicious experiment :)

  3. AWESOME job on the roses!! I took a cake decorating class at Hobby Lobby (I know, sooo prestigious) and I definitely struggled with making the roses. They often turned out to be more cabbagey than rosey (which I think looked fine, but the teacher disagreed). You are a trooper to do all of those cupcakes. :)

  4. They were so delicious Susan! We are still getting compliments on the tasty mini's. Thank you so much and we sure do love you!