• Weddings, Wedding Venues
    2011 Bride's Choice Awards | Best Wedding Photographers, Wedding Dresses, Wedding Cakes, Wedding Florists, Wedding Planners & More
  • Help end child hunger

Just Another Day at the Office

I just came across this article I wrote at the very beginning of my career as a pastry chef. It is so nice to look back on one of my first experiences in the food industry. Pretty amazing to know that years later, the challenges remain the same.

4:30 AM should not belong to the waking. Although technically morning, there is nothing about this hour that welcomes consciousness. But as a baker, I am already awake, bathed and starting my day an hour and half before my local Starbucks opens.

I work at a high–end cupcake store where seventeen varieties of cupcakes are made each day in addition to special orders. I was once asked if my work ever gets boring, since I seem to do the same thing every day. The answer is no — in this industry the unexpected happens daily, and I must be prepared for whatever is thrown my way.

Typically, I open the store. I unlock the back door and slip inside the dark storeroom. I turn on all the kitchen lights, change into my uniform, wash my hands, turn on the ovens and review the day’s specials and the private orders. At this point, another baker will arrive and we spend the next four hours cranking out cupcakes. So, on what seemed to be a fairly average morning, I was opening up the kitchen when I received a call from my fellow morning baker — she was sick and was not coming to work. I hung up on her immediately (having no time to scold her on the late call) since I knew I had to begin working full force if I wanted a chance at getting the cupcakes out on time. The company I work for believes in using home-sized Kitchen Aid mixers, thereby producing small quantities of cupcakes throughout the day to preserve freshness. This is a fantastic way to produce quality items, but is not especially efficient when trying to rush orders. The gravity of the situation hit me: no one else was coming in for the next four hours, I could not double the recipes due to the size of the mixers and I was already twenty minutes behind! I needed a plan.

There were a total of seven mixers, four for making cupcakes and three for making frosting. The only way to meet the deadline was to use all seven mixers simultaneously. I quickly began making two batches of vanilla, two batches of chocolate, one batch of red velvet and two batches of the day’s specials. I work with the same recipes every day and have a good feel for how long each part of the process takes, so while one batch was mixing, I’d melt butter in the microwave and measure out the milk for the next batch. I played games in my head to keep everything straight; what stage I was at with each mixer, which ingredients had yet to go in, how long each mixer had been beating and at what speed. I sang melodies to help me keep track of the numbers; how many of cups of sugar, how much flour, how many eggs. The thrum of seven mixers running full blast set the rhythm to my tune. Between verses I’d dash into the next room and line the pans with baking cups. Then, another hurtle arrived — one of the ovens was down. I had to recalculate everything. How many cupcakes could I fit into a single oven? What were the different bake times for the different mixes? What were the different temperatures they had to be baked at? What would be the most efficient order for the batches to go into the oven? My scuttling and singing continued until I solved the puzzle by settling on a baking line-up that would get the cupcakes baked as fast as possible. Before I knew it, small fluffy cupcakes were beginning to fill the countertops and my heart rate slowly began to return to normal.

I’m happy to report that all the cupcakes came out beautifully that day, and all of my batches were baked and ready before the staff arrived. Do I find my job boring? Anything but. Efficiency and focus are a baker’s only armor against life’s unpredictability, and a few seconds of careful thinking can be the difference between success and disaster. Even in the pre-Starbucks dawn of 4:30 AM.

Cupcakes for Humanity

This past week we had the honor of providing cupcakes for an incredibly special birthday party. Our client was celebrating the big 3-0! For her birthday she decided to raise money and get her friends together and build a house through Habitat for Humanity. Such an unbelievable way to spend a birthday!

We made Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with a Maple, Cream Cheese and Cinnamon Frosting topped with crunchy Heath pieces.

I also want to thank those that attended for sending me pictures to share on the blog!

Mini Cupcakes All Dressed Up

I think it can be officially declared: The cupcake craze is now a way of life! It is no longer a trend just passing through town. With TV shows, headbands, jewelry and of course many, many cupcake companies to choose from these little guys are here to stay.

Personally, the mini cupcakes have won my heart. Just a few of the reasons why:

1) I can get a ton of different flavors and not feel like a glutton

2) So easy to eat. There’s no knife vs big bite dilemma with these little tikes

3) They are so adorably cute!

Even with these reasons as to why minis reign supreme – I have found very little as to how to display minis in a more unique fashion. Yes the cupcake tree is an oldie and a goodie – but I want more options that will bring these guys some major oogle time….

My answer: tea-light holders! They are the perfect shape for mini cupcakes and there are so many different options a decorator could go wild!

Here are shots I took of my little guys trying some tea-light displays on for size.

Another option is to use upside down glasses and mugs

Another idea I can’t wait to try is to put the minis inside lanterns. So cute!

Magazine Coverage

We were recently featured in a cake article in Serendipty Magazine.  It’s always exciting to be able to share our cakes in print!

Cupcakes and Butterflies

The good news is that Wedding Season is in full swing and we have been working on some wonderful cakes! The bad news is due to our orders I haven’t been able to blog in a while. I’ll try to amp it up!

A few weeks ago we were involved in a fabulous Bat Mitzvah party. The event was an outdoor luncheon and the theme was bright colors and butterflies.

Looking at the photos it is hard to believe that the client did not use a party planner! They did all the designing themselves. Even creating the adorable cupcake stands to match their theme.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures at the event. But my client was incredibly generous in sharing their personal pictures for the blog.

Every table had alternating bright colors to keep the yard looking fresh

The tents had these cute butterflies attached to the posts

Every cupcake stand had a different color scheme. We made regular and mini cupcakes in a variety of bright colors to match the event colors. We also used a bright, multicolored cupcake liner so that the entire display really “popped”.

On each cupcake stand there was a special cupcake with a fondant medallion that had the Bat Mitzvah girl’s initial piped on it.

The floral arrangements were stunning and really helped tie in the overall theme.

As the centerpiece for the Buffet table there was a personalized “tree” that had family photos dangling from its branches. Such a great idea to make the buffet extra personal!

Eventful Events

This past weekend we participated in the LA Cupcake Challenge. It was a great event! Tons of awesome people (over 600 to be exact!), great music and tons of delicious cupcakes of course! While the results have yet to be posted, I wanted to share some shots from the event.We made Apple Spice Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream

Each cupcake was topped with a handmade chocolate leaf

Another fun event we were involved in recently was a cake demo for a Mother/Daughter event at a local elementary school. It was a two-part demo. In the first segment I showed everyone how to make fancy looking cakes at home that don’t require special tools or techniques. I then showed what goes into making an Urban Sweets cake. It was fun to see the moms just as excited as the girls!

NY Cake Convention – Part II

The other piece of the Cake Convention that made it such an incredible experience were the demonstrations and celebrity chefs that attended.

Cake Opera Co. based in Canada, made the trip down to show us their specialty – edible cake topper busts. They are outstandingly talented and bring a new edge to our art form.

We were able to watch a live cake competition. The artists had 4 hours to complete their New York themed design.

This is the winning design

It is hard to remember is how fragile cake really is. After judging, the face of the wining cake began to fall.

Dianna Lopez, the winner, shows how to take anything in stride. She had such a wonderful, playful attitude about the fondant falling.

Zilly Cakes, famously known for creating the Obama mosaic out of cupcakes, created a gorgeous cupcake mosaic of Kirsten Dunst from Marie Antoinette.

Here’s a closeup of what each cupcake looks like that forms the amazing masterpiece.

It was so wonderful to be able to meet and hear from some great chefs in the industry.

Ashley Vicos talks about her experiences in the cake industry

Michelle Bommarito, Natalie and I strike a pose

Chris Rossum judged the live cake competition

%d bloggers like this: