120 cupcakes, lots of buttercream and an eggs–celent cupcake recipe
Item no. 7 on my 30 for 30 list reads: run a cupcake workshop.
So, on 30th January 2012, that's what I did. As you can tell, the date is still imprinted in my mind!
You know those moments when you wonder how you got yourself into 'that' situation. Well item no. 7 was one of them. This was my first ever cupcake workshop that I'd attended, never mind organise, host and teach. Having said that, I did have that tingling sense of nervous excitement about facilitating it; and terror by my lack of knowledge and expertise in the cupcake decorating front.
So, I marshalled some troops, in the form of enthusiastic volunteers, to assist me. I'm very grateful to them. (Now, I feel like I'm writing the acknowledgments section of a book :P. Bear with me.)
- Midge taught on using fondant icing and sugarpaste.
- Sarah hosted, lent me her a muffin tin, and listened to my ideas.
- Emma printed certificates, shared tips from a friends experience of a cupcake workshop, made fondant icing.
- Emily helped come up with the prose for the certificates (I added the poetry), practised piping with me days before the workshop, and rescued the buttercream!
The evening before, I had a 6 hour bake-a-thon and produced 4 different varieties of cupcakes: strawberry, courgette and sultana, vanilla, chocolate and green tea, using 5 different recipes, totally over 120 cupcakes in all! I am indebted to Kenny the Mixer, whom I fell in love with. (more about him in my strawberry cupcake post.)
On the morning of the workshop, I used 2kg of butter to make a vast quantity of buttercream.
I used A LOT of butter for this workshop. I'm estimating at least 7kg worth. So, when you're charged £40 for a cupcake workshop - part of it goes towards buying the butter!
What fun we had :)
So, I'd factored in 15 minutes for people to arrive late and get a cup of tea or something wet. Even though I'd asked people to arrive to start at 2pm, as I anticipated, there were some delays.
We began with pink champagne and a very quick icebreaker in pairs, where we shared our names, our previous experience with cupcakes and also one cupcake related thing that would push us out of our comfort zone. Then all of us fedback the main points. I remember that my pair and I both confessed a dislike of frosting, which had prevented us on venturing out on the cupcake decorating front. (This was before my discovery of meringue buttercream.)
Courgette and sultana cupcakes topped with lime and pistachio buttercream were doled out to each of the participants.
At this point I said that I'd really like them to learn something that they could do at home, have fun and make lots of mess!
I hope we achieved that.
A few people had already told me that they needed to leave early for the school run, so I planned the workshop so that there were parallel activities running throughout the afternoon which guests could choose.
- cupcake baking vs. sugarcraft
- piping decorations vs. sugarcraft
- piping decorations vs. assembling cakes
- assembling cakes and play
There were a lot of laughs and memorable moments. My guests had so much fun and lots of pretty cakes to take home afterwards, which I was thrilled about. Remember, how I was truly uncertain about it's outcome?
In the end, I think that I squashed too many learning objectives (forgive my teacher speak) and activities in there. When I reflected on it, I decided that in future, I would try this as 3 x 2hour workshops: 1. baking cupcakes; 2. piping frosting; and 3. sugarpaste. As I was reflecting on this, I had this delicious moment when I realised that what I was doing was CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT. The thing that I felt that I was incompetent to do and really scared of doing at work. So, one of my unexpected learning outcomes was greater confidence at work for lesson planning. When I unpack this, the workshop was a gem of a learning experience!
So, I was thinking about which of the five cupcake recipes to share with you, then decided against it. Rather, I'd like to introduce you to the simplest of cupcake recipes. I got taught this by a biology teacher in my secondary school many years ago, and I still remember it.
You will need a set of weighing scales.
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4/350F. Line cupcake/muffin tins with liners.
2. Weigh the eggs and record their weight. Next, you're going to be using that magic number to measure out the self-raising flour, caster sugar and butter.
3. Once you've weighed out all the ingredients, place in one bowl and mix all the ingredients together. Use an electric mixer or a spatula - it doesn't really matter.
4. Using a tablespoon or a dessert spoon, dollop a spoonful into the cases.
5. Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, until a tester/knife comes out clean.
5. Take out and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then let them cool completely on a wire rack.