Monday, October 10, 2011

Baptism By Fire

That's what my mom called it.

It was our first large-scale baking gig. It was the first time all three of us produced and delivered something together. It was 200 cupcakes in a wooden lodge lit by white lights in a backwoods campsite in northern Wisconsin.

And that last part is key. Because as it turns out, 200 cupcakes isn't too difficult. It's just short of a breeze, in fact, if you don't have to haul them over 200 miles into east jesus nowhere. That's over a mile per cupcake, people.

So let me tell you how this went.

Friday night: We bake half the cupcakes and two 6-inch cakes at Caitlin's apartment. We part ways.

Saturday, 5:15a.m.: I bake the remaining pumpkin cupcakes in my kitchen, Caitlin and Mom bake the remaining chocolate cupcakes and mix up the frostings in Caitlin's kitchen. I arrive at Caitlin's, we pack the cupcakes in carriers, put the frosting on ice, and we're out of there.

Saturday morning: We drive by Taylors Falls and long to be hiking the trails. We make jokes about calling to warn the bride and groom that we have found a new way to spend our Saturday and will not be making it this evening.

Saturday noon: We almost hit a dog.

Saturday afternoon: The road is long and convoluted, and the impending drive home is weighing heavy on us. We joke about getting there and setting out the cupcakes, then plopping our buckets of frosting next to a sign that says "Frost Your Own!" and hauling ass out of there.

Later that afternoon: We are almost there! I check the frosting and it's completely solid. Mom and Caitlin say "Take it off the ice!" I say "Nah, it'll soften just fine once we get there." Then we joke about the frosting not softening, and us plopping it next to the cupcakes with a sign that says "Do What You Will With It" and hauling ass out of there.

3:30p.m.: We have arrived, and right on schedule! Hooray for us and our planning and punctuality. We make our way through a charmingly rustic reception room and open the door to a tiny, freezing kitchen space.

3:35p.m. "It's freezing in here."

3:45p.m.: We're scrambling. We're skirting cupcake carriers, 9x13 pans, and bags of supplies. We're transferring blocks of solid frosting (that are not softening to room temperature because room temperature is actually fridge temperature) to smaller containers and microwaving them (there was a microwave! Sweet Martha there was a microwave!), then whipping them with my electric mixer. My piping bag breaks. The consistency isn't what we planned on. We may not have enough frosting. I'm afraid I cannot joke about this.

3:50p.m.: We've altered our piping to accommodate the new consistency and the looming depletion of frosting. We're flying through rounds of cupcakes and getting them out on the display table with both the swooping force and deft finesse of a (you guessed it) well-oiled machine. We have just enough time to clean up our mess and change before the guests arrive.

And this is what they see.

And now, armed with valuable experience, empowering perspective, and the comforting knowledge that we won't abandon a project no matter how badly we'd rather go hiking at Taylors Falls...

On to the next.

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