I discovered that I’m pretty terrible at making cupcakes. I just assumed it was a natural trait but no, it isn’t. I made some, and they were awful.
I started out ambitious. I was going to make cupcakes for a friend’s party, but I would make them horse themed. I looked up horse themed cupcakes, and the majority of them are very cartoony looking, which is not the look I was going for. I thought about it for a while, and then I came up with an idea – I would make them themed as a hunter jump, as the flowers and natural elements would translate well to frosting design. I sketched out a plan – the cupcakes would have different elements on them, but when placed together they would form a complete jump, following the design of a hunter derby jump I found online.
You are likely unaware, but a long time ago, I took a frosting class at my local Michael’s. Taking the class made me feel like a very experienced froster, and also noteworthy, my husband was hit by a car as a pedestrian while I was in class one night (He was fine). It’s so nice when couples makes memories together.
Because of my class I have a large kit full of frosting accessories. I assumed this would naturally translate into me being really good at frosting, so constructing an entire horse jump out of cupcakes didn’t seem unreasonable.
The first problem occured when I failed at baking nice cupcakes. I’ve baked cupcakes at least 5 times, so I didn’t think that would be the hard part. But half of them didn’t rise and ended up weirdly flat. (Not the ones above obviously, I hid the weirdo ones behind those).
That was the first annoyance, and I decided not to bake new ones, because really, I didn’t care that much. So flat weird dense cupcakes it was.
Next, I whipped up some frosting using a family receipe. I “had” the ingredients on hand for so long that I just assumed I still had all of them. Turns out, I did not, I was missing a flavor. No matter though, I’ll make it anyway with what I have!
Somehow, like a child, I ended up spraying powdered sugar everywhere. Then I added too much water so my frosting was way too soft. One frustration after another.
If you learned anything about me from not rebaking the cupcakes, it’s that I won’t admit defeat when everything is going wrong. I’m going to use those weird cupcakes, and I’m going to use this weird frosting because damnit, that’s what I do.
I sat down at my table with my bowl of frosting, all my tools, and my unfrosted cupcakes, and just felt dread. It seemed like I’d already been at this for hours, made very little progress and I was ready for a nap. People do this for fun??
I looked through my guidebooks for frosting advice that would make my ambitious design come to life, and it felt like I was reading something in another language. I looked at how many colors I had to mix, and felt overwelmed. I needed to pick a simplier design.
Horses love grass right? I should do some frosting that looks like a field of grass! That sounds simple. At first I was going to put some hoof indents, maybe a few wild flowers, but in the end, it was just grass. A mushy, deflated (thanks too wet frosting) pile of grass. I also couldn’t find the actual frosting tip that makes grass, so I had to improvise with some other tip. Sure, I could have looked through the frosting kit I have for the actual tip, but does that seem like something I’d do? Definitely not.
For the other cupcakes, I went with flowers. Everyone likes flowers right? I would even do sunflowers for a nice summer theme. I also could use the green frosting I mixed up for grass. The less mixing, the better.
I made the stems first, and it’s surprisingly difficult to get a straight line. I really thought with those classes I would have mastered at least a straight line of frosting, but it was beyond the scope of my ability.
Leaves were made with a different tip, and basically made themselves. They were by far the best aspect.
Next, the flowers themselves. I had thought sunflowers wouldn’t be too hard, just some straight lines outward. Turns out, not so easy. They mostly became a mess of yellow frosting.
I was originally going to add brown centers, but since that would have required more mixing, I just gave up at that point. The frosting process was complete.
They tasted weird. Like, something was clearly off with those cupcakes. But still, a bad cupcake is still a cupcake, so I both ate a few, and brought them to my friend’s party. Maybe people would think they were “gourmet.” Unclear if anyone else actually ate them as we had to leave early to take care of baby B.
Baking is not a talent that comes naturally to me. I’m positive I would have had sucess had I followed the frosting receipe exactly, but unclear why the cupcakes baked so weird. Likely an oven problem I guess. If I kept practicing, I might be able to hone my skill and make a pretty design, but since I don’t normally eat cupcakes anyway, it doesn’t seem likely to happen. The most likely scenario – in about a year or two, I’ll decide I want to give it a try again, and since I did not practice, I will have a very similar result and decide to give up again. Repeat every few years for life.
Baking sure is fun.