Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pretty Much the Only Cupcake Post Ever Featured on Second Dinner

Or, my cousin gets married!

That was really the important part. But, as we waited eagerly for that to happen, my mother, Matt, and I spent two full days on a dream team cupcake production line, and turned out, if I do say so myself, an extremely impressive dessert extravaganza.

Here is the story of Wedding Summer '09, Preakness edition: Wedding Cupcakes.

So much to tell. So many pictures and thoughts. Good thing I'm almost a librarian. That means I can select and order--or censor if you prefer (I don't). Or, I could just be lazy and free-associate. I choose that.

First, a small meditation on the wedding cupcake. Surprisingly, it's actually more difficult to produce 250 cupcakes than one 90-person wedding cake (at least if the wedding cake is allowed to be a little rustic). Of course, it's hard to compare the two, especially when they were created in two entirely different kitchens and the cupcakes had to be transported to the venue, which the cake did not. The other major factor involved here was the recipe variety. The wedding cake required several batter mixings, but used only one base recipe for cake and for frosting. When it came to cupcakes, I overcomplicated it bit.

In the end, the great cupcake caper included four varieties of cake and three varieties of frosting:
Coconut Cake with Seven Minute Frosting
Rose Levy Berenbaum's White Velvet Cake with Wineberry Buttercream
Barts' Chocolate Cake with Mocha Buttercream

Lemon Cake with Lemon Buttercream (Sugar Sweet Sunshine Recipe)

For both the mocha buttercream and the wineberry I improvised using this Martha Stewart recipe for Strawberry Meringue Buttercream, and was very satisfied with the results, although heat and time constraints worked against it.

The wineberry version was slightly easier to work with than the chocolate, and held a firmer peak, possibly because of the added pectin from the wineberry jam.

My mother, who did the largest share of the frosting (this, she says is how she 'gets [her] ya-yas), became expert with the oversized tip pictured above, using one large squeeze and topping it off with a smaller one for the frilly design at right.

We used the same method for the mocha cupcakes, and sprinkled them with shaved chocolate. Later on, Matt also improvised a swirl adaptation of the frill. 
Although the process was certainly not  at peak efficiency, it was a lot of fun, and it would have been impossible without the complete and selfless support of my parents, who donated their kitchen to the messy, buttery, overheated, outlet-blowing enterprise, and then helped withevery facet of it from groceries to delivery, of Matt, who separated eggs, frosted, put up with me, took me swimming, and took most if not all of these beautiful pictures, of Nicki, who researched and procured six unique cakestands, and of Ellen, Hayat, Drew, and all the others who dropped by and pitched in.
Next time, I would streamline a bit, possibly making more of the cupcakes from the same cake recipe and then just varying the icings. Even the icings could have been restricted to those that used one frosting mode, but the overwhelmingly positive response to the Seven Minute Frosting, which can't be piped,  suggests that it was worth the trouble. The coconut cake recipe (to which I added coconut, it actually contains none) was better than the White Velvet cake, which staled quickly, but the advantage of making both of them was that one uses all yolks and one all whites. However, since all the frostings except the lemon buttercream used egg whites as well, the problem could have been better solved by not making any cake that involved egg whites, as we wound up with a large leftover jar of yolks, and I had to make challah a few days later.
Oh. And there was a wedding. I wore red lipstick. There was a tropical storm. And a photo booth. I picked out the weirdest horah ever (sorry Michelle). It was simple and friendly and ever so slightly awkward. It was sweeter than sweet.
It was just like Becky and Michelle, who are many things but above all good good people, and happy in one another. I was so lucky to be there, and equally lucky to get to hang out with the brides all week, and have swimming and questionable Chinese food. Lucky to have my sister home for a moment. Lucky in family and friends and swimming in lakes and swimming in butter. It was a good week. 


Joan said...

And such a treat to have you home for so long! and a great project all around!

Carrie said...

I am so very, very pleased that you managed to use your wineberries for evil.

Judith Motzkin Studio said...

brilliant cupcakes my little cupcake with red lips...