I entered the world of cupcake decorating today, and I am a little overcome.
I baked for the first time in 30 years just a couple of months ago. I bashed out a few half-decent cupcakes, and, quite frankly, felt as if I had knocked Nigella into a cocked hat. My cupcakes were vaguely spongey, not burnt, and most importantly, didn't make a knocking sound when I tapped them on the work surface. A resounding success.
I then undertook a very important taste test that required me to eat them all, and found that, by and large, my first batch of cupcakes wasn't too shabby.
Again last week I decided to have another go. Although there were some initial problems with the consistency of my icing (see blog post "I've Only gone and Baked!") I brought the cakes back from the brink of cupcake disaster, taste tested the lot, and found them to be downright filthy with cupcake tastiness.
It all started to become a bit bizarre on Saturday when I was queuing at a well known supermarket and saw a copy of their foodie magazine, the cover resplendent with pink and chocolate cupcakes.
Original magazine images Sainsbury's Magazine 2009It announced that inside said magazine there was a cup cake masterclass to be given by a cupcake expert of worldwide reknown.
First of all, I was sucked in by the pictures. I was hungry. I hadn't participated in a cupcake taste test for several days. The cupcakes on the cover were gargantuan, shot in micro mode, so they seemed to be about as big as my head.
Secondly, I was mildly interested in knowing what a cupcake masterclass would involve. How does one whip their cupcakes into shape? How many ways were there of whisking up a couple of eggs, some butter, sugar and a toss of flour?
I had no idea.
Original Images Sainsbury's Magazine 2009
Vanilla pods, icing bags, nozzles, rolling icing, vanilla syrup, cupcake cup wrappers, silver balls, butterfly embellishments, frosting, vanilla frosting, lemon frosting, chocolate and strawberry frosting, bows, bangles, sugar beads.
Original Images Sainsbury's Magazine 2009
In the past, in my former life as a teacher, I could be a tad fussy about the tidiness of my classroom or the neatness of my paperwork. At home, I have been known to adjust the angle of a cushion or tweek the edge of a throw to achieve domestic perfection as far as my eye is concerned. In all other areas of my life, I can be professional, logical, organised and coherent. When it comes to my goings on in the kitchen, however, it's less Domestic Goddess, and more Lucille Ball.
Not because I don't care, but just because no matter how hard I try, I make a huge mess. I drop things on the floor and inadvertently skid on them. I'm then forced to pick them up, lest I skid on them again. I sometimes find myself dusting them off, and carrying on with a smile. Only me, and the cat, ever know.
I saw one episode of Nigella, where she got up at 6.30am, woke up in full make-up, put on a black silk housecoat, wafted down to her kitchen and started to prepare canapes for a dinner party she was giving that evening. There was lots of tasting with close up shots of Nigella's lips. It was positively obscene. Who cooks like that? Certainly not me.
I tried to follow her example. I went to bed in full make up so that I could wake up looking as beautiful as Nigella. I woke up in full make-up from the day before. It was slightly askew on my face, and there was a fair amount on the pillow, but hey. I got up. A bit later than 6.30am. I put on my fleecy dressing gown. I stayed in my dressing gown all day so that I could be authentic to the piece Nigella had prepared. I then started to prepare my canapes, in my dressing gown, at 3.30pm. There was a lot of dropping of things, and the resulting skidding. Not much voluptuous or seductive cream tasting at all. Frankly, I was a train wreck.
I've never been one for competitive sports (unless it involved men gurning) or competitions in general. I've never considered myself particularly competitive. But the cupcake expert has thrown down the gauntlet. Apparently my soggily iced, slightly wonky cupcakes aren't up to the generally accepted standard of cupcake supercakedom.
So I've been online and I've done some searches for cupcake accessories. I particularly liked what I found at etsy.com, designed and handmade by Mapletree2000.
It's a pink, cakey world out there!
So, I will, forthwith, be whisking my cupcakes into masterclass shape.
I will not, however, be wearing a silk housecoat. I fancy I will be wearing something akin to this: