Sunday, April 30, 2006
I spent my morning making cupcakes. Not just any cupcakes, but wedding cupcakes. This was a trial run, a tasting, for a close friend of mine who's getting married in July. The happy bride-to-be and her fiance wanted carrot cake, one of my favorites, and the flavor of my wedding cakes (oh yeah, we also had some Opera Cream Torte from the Bonbonerie too). Sure, I went to culinary school and worked in a professional pastry kitchen, but the thought of making a traditional multi-tiered wedding cake scared the hell out me. Just too much risk associated with stacking the layers when it's not something I do every day. But cupcakes, now those I think I can handle.
I put two competing carrot cake recipes to the test, the doctored them up a bit to give them some choice. The winning recipe came from a classic book, American Home Cooking, and though time-consuming to make, yields a cake that tastes dense, rich and worthy of a momentous occasion. I love "from scratch" cakes and this one's a delicious example of why. Freshly grated carrots, crushed pineapple, chopped pecan and a hint of buttermilk make this recipe a standout. For some reason, I had trouble judging the number of carrots I need to grate to get to three cups, grated enough carrots to feed an army, and am now left wondering if I should make carrot soup. Once the soupy batter is baked, you poke holes in the top of the warm cakes and then pour a sweet buttermilk glaze on top to soak in and make the cake rich and gooey. I finished the top with a cream cheese buttercream frosting, lightly flavored with pineapple. After eating at least three cupcakes "just to make sure," Peter agreed that the cake was a winner.
The tasting went well, and I now have my work cut out for me come July. But sitting between my friend and her mom and listening to them talk through decision after decision about detail after detail, I remembered again why I'm so glad all my own wedding planning is behind me. It's only after the fact that you realize that no one will remember the color of the napkins, the kind of centerpieces, or even the taste of the cake.