This year so far has been full of hen do's, weddings and big birthdays and another one of these was my cousin's 30th birthday in July. Initially I was disappointed as her party was to be on the same day as one of my friend's weddings, so I thought I wasn't going to be able to bake anything for her. But then she announced she was having a 'dessert table' and I realised I could probably squeeze in a batch of cupcakes or two, so I was in! Unfortunately I only managed a few quick snaps of these cupcakes, due to reasons that will become apparent as you read on!
Her only request for the cupcakes was raspberries and milk chocolate, but other than that I was free to decide. For that flavour request, I immediately remembered these Chocolate ganache raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes from Cupcake Crazy Gem's blog and thought I'd make them, but as the day grew closer and I realised how much I had to go, I ended up just making my standard chocolate cupcakes and just using the raspberry buttercream from Gem's recipe. I was a bit disappointed that my frosting didn't look as vibrantly pink as Gem's but it did taste lovely and fresh! Looking back I wish I'd been able to go the whole hog and follow Gem's recipe, but there's always next year!
I wanted to do something novelty for the second batch, and pored through my baking books, eventually narrowing it down to popcorn cupcakes from one of the Hummingbird books. I even bought all the ingredients and had some red stripy cardboard cases that looked like popcorn boxes! But the weather started to heat up and I then got gripped by the idea of making ice cream cone cupcakes again! Everything was telling me it was the wrong thing to do - it was boiling, we had to transport them and the cones were wobbly, the piping had to be perfect... but I couldn't stop myself!
Poor Mike had to spend an entire evening cutting up cardboard cake boxes to make containers for them so they would stand upright. It was roasting hot in the kitchen so all the cakes had to go in the fridge overnight to make sure they didn't turn into sludgy messes. We had to transport all 30 cakes in a car on the hottest day of the year so far, while tottering in heels and a fancy dress (me, not Mike!) to my Mum's and leave them there while we went to the wedding, then pick them back up again in the evening to take to the party. We were all stressing so much about the heat that Mum ended up covering the cake boxes with tea towels and putting ice packs next to them to try to keep them cool during the day!
But it was all worth it... there was a last minute panic when en route to the party we turned out of a blind junction and had to slam on the brakes, causing the ice cream cones boxes to almost fall out of my lap, but we made it! Everyone seemed to like the novelty factor of the ice cream cones cakes and couldn't believe that they were baked in the cones - so they disappeared from the dessert table almost instantaneously. It was the biggest gathering I'd ever brought cakes along to, and I felt really proud as I looked around the room to see people tucking in to things I'd made. The positive reaction I got made me feel like I should have more confidence about baking for bigger occasions, so hopefully I will be able to remember that in future, if any more opportunities come my way... but maybe as long as it's not the hottest day of the year. Don't think my blood pressure could take it again!
How do you find baking for bigger gatherings? Thrive on the pressure or shy away? Do you have any tips on how to pull it off?