Tuesday, July 14, 2009

For me, setting up cupcake shots is the 'icing on the cake' after a day of baking.

Here's the new raspberry cupcake I've been working on - White chocolate Satin Buttercream on Vanilla Cake with Raspberry and Raspberry buttercream fillings. Thats a dollop of the Rasp. B.C. on top sprinkled with white chocolate shavings. They looked okay, but the icing is a no-go. Too sugary and it left a greasy feel in my mouth. Back to the R&D area of my kitchen.

I have a thing against the flash on my camera, so I'll use any other light source I can find, but these could have used a bit more light.

Cupcake heads! I have never been able to use these cutie egg cups until now (who eats hard boiled eggs unless they're on some fad diet these days?).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Some Important Thank-You's

I have been meaning to take a picture of the package I received from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes after winning the Batter Finger draw. Lindsay had that package to me within two days! It was wrapped inside with pretty tissue paper and a cute little recipe card, which I can't for the life of me find right now. She was also lovely enough to throw in two packages of pretty cupcake liners - and she could not have chosen better colours to suit me. I was giddy all afternoon and left my booty on the kitchen table for about a week so I could look at it and think up all the different cupcakes that would look best in them. I'm in the middle of testing a raspberry recipe and, if it turns out a winner, the next batch is going in the pink ones, I think, while the green has inspired me to do something lime-pie-ish - maybe with graham cracker crumbs... So a big, albeit late, THANK YOU! to Lindsay at Sweet Cuppin Cakes in Winnipeg!

More recently, I was in Ottawa dropping Kevin off at the airport and decided to use the time afterward to check out the cupcake competition. Unfortunately, there are no 'bricks and mortar' cupcake shops. There are a few suppliers if you want to order a dozen in advance and some bakeries that make them on top of the usual fair, but nobody solely devoted to the cupcake. I was able to get my hands on some at one of the more prominent cake shops, I wont say who, and was sorely
disappointed. Their icing was sugary and flavourless and the cake was dry. However...

I made the drive northward to The Candy Store to see if I could find some novel candies to top my cakes. This made the trip worth while. The woman behind the counter, I wish I could remember her name, was a wealth of info on the cupcake scene in Ottawa and lamented herself on the lack of a cupcake cafe. The shop itself is as cute in person as it is in the pictures in their website and whats more fun than looking at pretty things in pretty jars?

I bought two of each malt-ball flavour (Yum!)and some Milkies to do some decorating, and lovely-counter-girl threw in a handful of saltwater taffy. I am now a huge fan of saltwater taffy - I never would have thought!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Strangely, given my penchant for all things tiny and cute, I hadn't baked mini cupcakes up until last week. With a little left over batter I dug out my mini tins and made a few. Soo cute. Now it's all I want to make and I want to totally fuss them up with sparkley sugar and toppings and yummy bits...

Little guy on a paper pedestal

A bit of a birthday display. I think they need to be embellished more, cupcakes are all about charm and charm is in the details.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I need a new angle...

There are a lot of positive aspects to selling at the farmers markets that would be difficult to find elsewhere - I get to meet the customers, they get to put a face to the product, there's exposure to fairly diverse groups of people, and getting to know the other producers in the community and the valuable experience they can offer. On the other hand, there are things that are completely out of my hands that make sales unpredictable - not having a permanent spot means I am not guaranteed to be able to unload the hundred or so cupcakes chilling in the back of my van, or, if I do get a spot, it could be in an undesirable location where foot traffic and visibility are limited and, of course, there's the weather to consider. Since my product has a short shelf life, they must be sold that day. This means any return on my invested time and money hinges on some conditions that, at one time or another, will inevitably work against me. I'm waiting for the day I spend all of Friday lovingly baking, decorating and packaging only to find there are no spots open at the market - there I'll be, sitting on two coolers full of melting buttercream capped cupcakes that are likely heading to the trash. Its a wretched possibility. So, while I don't intend to turn my back on the market entirely, I realize that if I am truly going to make a go of this endeavor, I need a diversified approach to sales.

I sought feed-back from a couple in the restaurant industry. I felt like I needed a professional opinion, someone who could give me specific, technical advice about taste, texture and presentation , and I'm so glad I did! Mrs. Bistro Owner, whom I had only met briefly once before, was very generous with her time and was willing to sit down with me to field my questions about how the food business works - how do I get my products into cafes or shops, what's the etiquette when approaching a business owner, etc. as well as letting me know if my cakes were up to industry standards. I dropped off three flavours for she and Mr. Bistro Owner to sample and awaited their verdict. I was beside myself ecstatic when, in her message, she described them as "so super delicious", "top notch', and "awesome"! Wheee! She then let me know they had a few more suggestions about marketing and places to approach and that I am welcome to give her a call. I am so grateful to her and her hubby, am encouraged by their input and intend to take her up on her sweet offer. I have to say, Kingstonians have made me feel very welcome in my new town and I can't wait to get even more entrenched here by getting my business going. Somehow my good feelings about this place will translate into yummier cupcakes, I'm sure.

And what does a baker do when they feel good? invent a new cupcake, of course - something raspberry flavoured, I think, since they are just starting to ripen on the bushes....