Well, second place in the Best Taste - Amateur category, but I'll take it!
The weekend was a bit of a whirlwind but it really couldn't have gone better. The weekend kicked off on Friday. After a hair appointment, and before heading to the pub for a few drinks, I managed to get the rainbow chip cakes baked off for the birthday party. I'd never made these before but they went well. Adding a few sprinkles to Paula Deen's 1-2-3-4 cake really makes a difference.
|Dora cupcake liners at the request of the birthday girl|
After a rather sleepless night, I was back in the kitchen at 7:00 getting everything finished before heading to Montreal. The Dora cakes were topped with a cooked flour frosting (sounds gross but it works!) tinted with some purple gel color. I finished them off with a custom blend of sprinkles to coordinate with the liners.
|The finished product|
After the birthday cakes were done, it was on to the competition cakes. My plan was to get them baked off and packed up for the road trip. Everything went pretty smoothly. I was a little worried I was going to run out of batter but it just worked out.
Fastforward to Sunday morning...the time seemed to fly by way too quickly and I didn't think everything would get done. First things first - caramel. Thanks to Lyndsay for acting as photographer through this step.
The caramel seemed fine at first but I soon discovered that something wonky happened and I ended up with a less than ideal texture. I think the issue was likely adding cream that was still cold from the fridge to the 360 degree sugar mixture. It became almost crystalized. I was told they still tasted alright, if not the ideal chewy texture I was going for. At least the delicious, and ridiculously decadent, frosting decided to cooperate. As did the previously made caramelized sugar for the decorations. In the end, I was pretty happy with the finished product. The 6 I set aside for the judges were given special protection in their container. Amazing what you can do with some tin foil and a muffin tin. Worked like a charm.
Everything got done just on time and we made it to the drop off about 3 minutes before they'd asked for everything to be there. The stressful part was over and a bunch of us headed off for a delicous breakfast before heading back to check out Cupcake Camp in all its glory.
How do I describe this event? Insane is the first word that comes to mind. The line snaked through the lobby of the Fairmont, through a shared entrance with the next building and then twisted around outside. We were lucky that we only had to wait outside for maybe 10 minutes but I heard people were out there for over an hour. Over 2000 people turned out for the event which I think was WAY more than the organizers ever imagined. Great for the charities but not ideal for those of us trying to get a look at the cupcakes. Once we got in it was pretty much impossible to see anything. People were 3 and 4 deep at every table. I did get a chance to look at the cupcakes in the Best Decorated categories and they were quite impressive. Sadly, I don't have any pictures from inside. I was just too overwhelmed to get out the camera.
I was lucky enough to get to meet Chuck Hughes, one of the judges, host of Chuck's Day Off, and owner of Garde Manger in Montreal. I mostly tracked him down because my friend, Carolyn, loves him so much but I ended up being really glad I did. He was so nice and really open to taking pictures and talking to everyone who flagged him down. I also may have told him he should definitely vote for my cupcake if it made it to the judging round ; )
We were kicked out around 4:00 just as they were finally starting to judge for the taste categories. There were still hundreds of people outside and they needed some of us to leave so others could enjoy. I then spent the next 24 hours in suspense waiting for the winners to be announced. I really didn't think I had a shot especially with the results of the caramel. I was really just interested in finding out which ones made it to the second round of judges. Thanks to Kristen for finally finding the results from the Montreal Gazette on their blog and letting me know I actually came in second place. So exciting! It's now 48 hours later and I still haven't heard from the organizers to let me know about my win but I'll cut them some slack...20,792 cupcakes, $35,000+, and a couple thousand people is a lot to deal with in a weekend.
This post has gotten pretty long but I'm just so excited about the whole thing that editing myself was hard. Thanks to all of you who left comments and sent emails, texts, etc, of support and encouragement. I really appreciate it. Another competition under my belt.
Now it's time to move on to Christmas baking. Woo!