I have become middle-aged before my time and I have only a spongy, iced cupcake to blame. All it took was a simple charitable bake sale to turn a group of kitchen-phobic teenagers into fierce competitors in an unofficial, unannounced bake-off to produce the least disastrous looking red-velvet cupcake.
I was admittedly the most competitive, perhaps even the only one. In fact, I’m not even sure if any of the other girls really cared who made the best cupcake but then again maybe that’s only because they knew they had no chance of winning a competition that really only existed in my middle-aged mind. They were too busy laughing at each others efforts to take notice of my smug smile as I inspected their not so handiwork.
The morning of the sale I followed the Hummingbird book recipe for red velvet cupcakes and all was going fine until I took them out of the oven only to find that instead of a bright red colour they had remained brown. After, checking Wikipedia (a little too late), I regretted the shortcut I took in omitting the unusual looking ingredients, buttermilk and white wine vinegar, from the list as apparently they cause some sort of reaction that give the cakes their trademark red colour. Of course, it wasn’t my fault, the recipe should have explained the need for each and every single ingredient to prevent such a thing happening and so it can take full responsibility.
So, I arrived at school with my brown velvet cupcakes; annoyed and mildly embarrassed; ready to glare evilly at cupcakes redder and rounder then mine. Then, along came the cupcakes and my mood brightened considerably at the sight of them. I gave on sweeping look at the merchandise and suddenly felt proud of my comparatively miniscule mishap.
Observe for yourself, the unofficial candidates of my unofficial cupcake competition of which I am the unofficial winner of.
1) These hard, hollow disks were the result of someone’s impatience and inability to allow them to bake without opening the oven for a little peak at half-time. They were a bright red colour inside so we used them as crumbs to sprinkle on the better cupcakes once they had been iced.
2) Small, sticky and flat. A good try that would have stood a chance had I not been taken part.
3) Unpictured- These were unusual cupcakes that spouted water when pressed. They arrived late yet the girl had the audacity to proclaim them better than anyone else’s and contributed the entire success of the sale to her little sponges. I was a bit unnerved by her disregard of our joint hard work but was placated by my friend who tried them and assured me that mine where far superior, not that I had any doubt.
4) Of course, these are my little beauties. They may not be red but they are the closest we had to real cupcakes and I sold them with pride.
They looked even better with white buttercream icing on top and a satisfying sprinkle of the red crumbs of lesser cakes.
In what could be compared to an episode of Desperate Housewives/Come Dine With Me, I got more than a bit carried away but it was all for a good cause, so I’m excused by the money raised for the children of East Africa. The sale was an overall success apart from the elderly man who grabbed two cupcakes and scampered off without paying, leaving us shocked and spluttering. Nevertheless, the man had good taste and of all the cupcakes chose mine to steal, further inflating my ego.