Wednesday, February 18, 2009

If you bake it, they will come...

My Cupcake Stall was held about a week and a half ago on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th February. It was a tiring two days, with extreme wild weather on Saturday with temperatures rising to 46 degrees celcius. It was forcasted to be such an extremely hot day even Victoria's Premier John Brumby advised people to stay home if they had no need to go outside. Nevertheless, I stayed up until 3am the night before baking hundreds of cupcakes for the stall lucky for me I had my nifty red Breville Wizz Mix Pro. I didn't want to bake them too early as cupcakes should be eaten nice and freshly baked. I woke up early to frost the cupcakes because at 3am my eyes started drooping and couldn't stay awake to finish frosting..I wanted them to look perfect. By 10am I could already feel the force of the heat, it was going to be the hottest day our state has ever experienced and yet I was excited to hold my stall. Well that didn't last long...

As soon as I stepped outside to transport the cupcakes to the Stall, which thankfully was under shelter, the sun rays were so strong and the wind was so was like standing in front of a huge furnace except I had no where to escape to for cold AC comfort. Literally within minutes of stepping outside of the car and holding my cupcakes in huge boxes I was worried the heat would melt the cupcakes... and melt they did. Well the high swirly pink vanilla buttercream cupcakes did...I had to quickly transport them all to a huge coolroom. Yes I had to refrigerate them... one of the biggest no-noes for cupcakes but I had no choice. It was either - melt in furnace heat or stay cool in coolroom. After 6 hours of hard work, I did not want them to spoil. The next 6 hours were exhausting, hot, windy and Mr.Brumby was right, everyone should've stayed home that day. This also meant that no one came to the festival and we lost half a day of sales. Luckily that night and Sunday late afternoon, there were huge crowds of people coming to the festival. I had so many compliments about my cupcakes and some people even bought 6 to take away. Some came back the next day to buy some more and told me they were really great. And it felt awesome. It's such a great feeling to be able to create something that other people appreciate and I am so grateful. And even though I was iffy about selling cupcakes that weren't the complete total best they could be since I had to keep them in the cool room which sucked out the moisture and made them a lot drier that they should be.. to still get compliments made me happy.

It's different from getting compliments from friends & colleagues that your cupcakes are great because these customers had to actually pay hard earned money for something of quality and to be happy with it, is a great feeling. But I am still determined to be able to bake an absolutely great tasting cupcake. I am not looking to bake the "best" cupcake ever because I feel that it is not achievable, I mean how do you ever know that you are the best at something? It's a huge claim to make since we live in a big world and what if the guy half way around the world does it better than you? Then you would be lying and selling a lie. And yes it kinda pisses me off when I see restaurants or bakeries stating they have "the best parma" or "the No.1 Vanilla Slice" because if it really was the best, you don't need to tell the world. Everyone would know already through personal experience or word of mouth. So back to my point, I'm constantly improving my recipes and learning new ways to bake a yummy cupcake. I am not a professional baker or have had training as a pastry chef. I'm just a normal person that isn't too great at cooking but loves to bake. Well let me rephrase, loves to bake cupcakes only. So I know I have a long road ahead of me in learning how to bake well on a consistent level...that's the hard bit!

During the two days, I had no time to watch the news or listen to it on the radio. So on Monday morning the devastating disaster of the bushfires and what they called Black Saturday finally reached me. Watching the horrible events on TV and listening and seeing the heartache of those affected was just heart-breaking. I constantly felt a lump in my throat and can feel their pain. And to see what a great lengths and effort Victoria and our Country are going to help these people rebuild their lives is just amazing, it makes me feel truly lucky to be living in such a giving, caring, responsive country.

So although we may not have made a profit on our stall, I did get to sell out my cupcakes and I did learn a lot through lots of hard work and a few tears. Thanks to everyone that came along to support, love you guys! Here are some pics I managed to snap up before I had to rush them to the stall. Notice how I used the egg tray to keep the mini cupcakes in? Ingenius eh? lol


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

c u p c a k e : l o v e : s t o r y

Welcome to my blog Sheryl's Cupcakes. I simply adore baking cupcakes and these are my stories.

I pondered and pondered on different names for my dream cupcake bakery (that I'll open one day) but couldn't come up with something that stuck. So that's why I named it Sheryl's Cupcakes. Something simple..short..sweet. When that name pops into my head in a dream I'll have one night, I'll rename for now it's Sheryl's Cupcakes. Tin drew the logo for me one day, late at night when I was feeling moody for some reason and then sent it to me on MSN Messenger...I think it's adorable.

I have a real fascination with cupcakes that all started a few years ago when I went on a trip to New York. Before my trip to NYC, cupcakes to me were just a sweet treat from a bakery. I didn't think they were anything special and to be honest the cupcakes from the bakeries here in Melbourne are very standard, dry, unexciting with icky icing. Even the ones at Michels Patisserie are pretty gross..dry and tasteless. I bought once bought one from there so I could give it a try and it was also raising money for Breast Cancer but when I took that first bite I was rather disappointed, I should have just donated my money instead. There are, however a few other dedicated Cupcake shops in Melbourne, which I will touch on a bit later on.

So my fascination with cupcakes came about when I went to NY and I went on the Sex and the City tour bus, they took us to several different locations in NY where SATC scenes have been shot. They took us to the Magnolia Bakery and if they didn't show us the scene where Carrie and Miranda were eating cupcakes I wouldn't even have remembered it at all. So the tour guides told us about the Magnolia Bakery and how popular their cupcakes were and how they sold over 10,000 cupcakes a week. They then gave us a cupcake each for morning tea which were made by Magnolia's sister bakery (since they were so popular at Magnolia they couldn't cater for large groups and usually you can't buy more than a dozen). Then came my first bite of a real cupcake. And yes it was good...they were so simple, pretty and so much better than any other crappy amateur cupcake I had ever eaten in my life. It was moist, buttery with a delicious vanilla aroma and a sweet buttercream, I was impressed.

Then my curiosity for cupcakes started to grow... I wondered how one little cupcake could cause such a big craze in the States. I mean I knew that obviously the Americans love their food...and when I mean food I mean fast food, greasy food, sweet food, fried food, chocolates, super sized sodas, candy, all things in artificial cherry flavour (which is my favourite flavour by the way and yes I know it tastes like the panadol syrup we used to take when we were young.. I still love it). It was extremely hard to even find a supermarket that sold fresh fruit or veggies, perhaps I was just looking in the wrong place. I started reading up on cupcakes and recipes on the net, I have been following Cupcakes Take The Cake blog for a couple of years now, it's my favourite favourite blog on cupcakes and just like how most people have this one website they must visit every single day (whether it be the
news or manga) this is mine. And oh how wished I would get my cupcakes featured on their blog one day, my wish came true this year when they featured my Happy New Year 2009 Cupcakes! I was ecstatic.

I think it was almost a year after I ate my Magnolia cupcake that I tried to bake my own cupcakes. I used the Magnolia Bakery recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes and used my mini oven (cos my big oven was broken back then) along with my hand mixer. They didn't turn out that great but I brought them into work and everyone was giving me praise about them. And I'm not a great cook nor have I really baked anything in my life. I thought wow that was easy and it was actually really fun. Messy but fun.

So my love for cupcakes grew and grew...any chance I would get I would bake cupcakes. Everyone at work knows me for my cupcakes and whenever I send an email around that I've brought cupcakes in, they disappear within minutes. I mean it sounds corny to be bringing in baked goods into work, especially when you're an IT Consultant and expected to be professional...but I think it creates a fun atmosphere and when it's a team environment we all need to co-operate and share, it's helped me build relationships with a lot of my colleagues. So even though some may think it's weird move to make in bringing baked goods, food to work in case you don't look professional enough for a promotion, it could possibly be true in some aspect but I don't care because I really don't intend to be a consultant for the rest of my life. Sure the pay may be great but my real passion and drive is to bake! Just like some might have a passion for dancing, singing, acting, painting and have made a real living out of it. My goal, that I am working towards (and not just dreaming about anymore) is to be able to bake, create new and amazing cupcake flavours, construct amazing looking cupcakes using my creativity and not work! I think life is too short and so this blog is helping me to keep moving towards this goal of mine.

My first step is the Sandown Chinese New Year festival that is going to be held this weekend. I intend to make 200-300 cupcakes. I don't plan to make a profit but it is more like a learning experience for me. And to those that have bought a cupcake and are now reading this blog. THANK YOU. Feel free to drop me a comment or feedback on my cupcakes.