If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I write most of the blogs and once in a while Megan chimes in. We’re going to do something a little different this time. Since we were recently involved in our first cupcake competition, we thought it might be fun to co-write this blog and give you both of our perspectives. Again, if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that Megan and I are a mother/daugther team who are about as opposite in our approach to ‘caking’ as two people can be. Remember, I am the free spirit and Megan is the concrete thinker, and also keeping in mind that our cake relationship is still a work in progress.
A few months ago a dear friend of mine found out about our cakes. I hadn’t seen her for a while and when I did, I showed her some of our pictures. She loved the cakes and very enthusiastically said, “You should enter a cupcake competition.” She had heard about this competition which was about 45 minutes away from where we lived. It was being held in a quaint little village of shops, which, by the way, my family already loves to go to. It was encouraging that she thought that we should enter, but it was one of those, “I don’t really think we will”…….moments. Then I started thinking about it. Then I started to get excited about it. Then I started envisioning what we could do. There I go again, soaring off into the clouds of fondant. I stopped myself short and thought I better let Megan in on my plans, epsecially since, you know, we’re kind of a team.
I was on board immediately…..surprise, surprise. My typical response to anything that people ask us to do cake-wise is, “Sure, we can do that,” without really considering the engineering miracles that it will take to do a particular project. Details, details.
Megan, however, didn’t share my sentiments…..surprise, surprise. Megan didn’t want to enter the cupcake competition. Let me just say that right off the bat. Come to think of it, she was pretty adamant about not entering it. I had to talk her into the whole idea. Granted, it didn’t take her long to agree to do it but I definitely had to do some fast talking to get her on board.
I don’t usually text Megan during the day while she’s working but I knew that she wouldn’t answer me anyway unless she had a break, so I took a chance and texted. I told her to call me as soon as she had a chance. That didn’t necessarily sound urgent to me.
Megan – Let me set the scene for you. I am sitting in the Reading Room at work and I get this text…”Call me as soon as you can!” Now, this text from my Mother has me a wreck. You always think the worst when you hear something like that. I am thinking something horrible has happened to someone. I call her as soon as I have a free moment, and this is the first thing hear…”Do you want to enter a cupcake competition?”
Really?! I got stressed out for that?! Ok, regroup…”Do I want to enter a cupcake competition?”
There is something that you should probably know about me. I am a very competitive person. And when I say competitive, I mean COMPETITIVE. I will be honest with you…my competitive tendencies are not a good thing. I try to tone down being competitive, but sometimes it just gets the best of me. Sometimes I will choose not to do something like a game or contest because I am so competitive. So, when asked if I wanted to be in a cupcake competition, my first instinct was….”That’s probably not a good idea.” I said, “no.” I was happy making cakes and cupcakes in a strictly non-competitive way.
Wendy – Like I said….fast talking. Finally, Megan jumped in the competition boat with me and we set sail.
We started gearing up for our first baking competition, ever, and we had no idea what to expect. Visions of cake competitions from the food network started dancing through my head. Ten tiered cakes that weigh 200 pounds and take seven people to lift them to the display table………..
Back to reality…..standard size cupcakes, no more than six on a board.
It’s been heartwarming to us to see the response from everyone when we announced on Facebook that we were going to enter our first competition. Again, we are humbled by the support of our ‘cake family.’ Many people seemed to have a lot more confidence in us than we had in ourselves. We decided to plow ahead. I’m not sure if everyone realizes just how much their encouragement means to us.
The beginning stages of brainstorming and getting ready were very exciting for us, and, yet, nerve-wracking at the same time. We had no idea what to expect, absolutely no idea what the competion would be like. There were three categories,’ traditional,’ ‘anything goes,’ and ‘themed’ to the location where the contest was being held. There were two entry levels, professional and amateur. Obviously, we would be entering the amateur level. Did I mention that we had no idea what to expect?!
Megan – I think that not knowing what to expect made the idea of competing even more nerve-wracking. I kept having this scene play out in my mind where my mother and I would arrive at Peddler’s Village with cupcakes in hand, and there would be these outrageous, amazing cupcakes already on display. We would look at each other and say, “What in the world are we doing here?” Someone would come up to us and ask us if we were entering cupcakes in the competition, and our response would be, “What cupcakes? These cupcakes? Oh no, these cupcakes aren’t ours. Who would enter these in a competition?” Needless to say, we had some planning ahead of us so that wouldn’t happen.
Wendy – We started brainstorming. I can’t tell you how many ideas have come and gone through our discussions. We finally nailed down what we wanted to do and got to work. As I mentioned, there were three categories and we ambitiously decided to enter all three. The cupcakes had to be ready to be displayed upon arrival. They were not going to be judged on taste, only visuals, difficulty and creativity.
The first category was ‘traditional.’ The rules were that you had to use either royal icing, buttercream or a combination of the two. No fondant or gumpaste components. The second category was ‘baker’s choice.’ That meant anything goes….gumpaste, fondant, buttercream and/or royal icing. The last category was themed to the quaint village and its shops. All components had to be completely edible.
Two weeks before the competition we had a Saturday where we had some time, with no cakes due, and we decided to start working on some of the components. We really try hard to budget our time when we are working on cake stuff and we like to carve out chunks of time in our weekly schedules. We spent several hours working with royal icing and gumpaste and things seemed to be going pretty well. We felt like we were being good stewards of our time, working ahead, and carefully thinking things through. That’s what we thought. At the time.
Time is never wasted when we are working on cake stuff……although sometimes it seems like it. Even if the project that you are working on is a total fail, you are learning in the process…..enter, life lesson. You learn what works. You learn what to do differently next time. You learn how totally incompetent you are, or, you realize that you have enough experience under your belt to know how to make it work. Bottom line….we walked away from that Saturday with nothing concrete accomplished even though it seemed, at the time, that we were accomplishing a lot. Mostly what we accomplished was knowing what not to do the next time….and we had nothing to show for that precious, unfettered chunk of Saturday.
Case in point….Megan’s butterflies……….but, we are going to end this post here……we’ll continue the story with another post. We try to keep our posts to a reasonable length, after all, your time is precious and I’m sure you don’t want to spend the next hour reading about some dumb cupcake competition with a couple of goofy women.
To be continued…….