When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

The Feeding Of The 130 June 4, 2008

Filed under: Cupcakes — crummb @ 6:56 pm
Tags: , ,

First up: These photos were not taken by husband Z. There was no artful styling nor meticulous framing because it was not the time nor the place for it. When a cake order threatens to become the mother of all cake disasters, the last thing you think about is photos for your blog.

I’d thought the hardest thing about making 130 cupcakes for my church’s kids camp was the baking. Oh hoho, how wrong was I. The baking did take an epic 10 hours (including the time I took to walk out to the petrol kiosk to get more eggs, and the time I sat on the loo to wrestle one of those agonising, face-scrunching, knee-buckling stomach aches). It took this long because I have only a domestic oven, and inside it only one wire rack. I had forgotten to order a second rack in time for my baking marathon, which meant that I had to bake the cupcakes at an excruciatingly slow pace of 12 at a time.

When I finished at 7.30pm, I had to shift all 130 with me to my parents’ because my apartment was about to be renovated so we’ve moved there for a few weeks. How do you pack 130 cupcakes in the most efficient way? By stacking them up in three nifty boxes, of course, and putting them in the car boot.

But when I unpacked them at my parents’, this was what I found:


Seven of them were completely damaged. In my previous post, I had made a chest-thumping declaration that I’ve found the softest, fluffiest cupcake recipe on earth. Quite obviously, I forgot about it soon after. Because only a sucker would stack the softest, fluffiest cupcakes on earth on top of one another – four levels high at that.

Not only were seven of them irreparably crushed, most of them had circular indents from the weight of cupcakes above. So what started out as perfectly level cupcakes ended up looking like poorly made, sunken fiascos. Thankfully, the buttercream swirls I was to pipe the following morning would cover the multitude of sins. I’d also made a few extra pieces so I could still meet the 130 quantity.

Next problem: How do you store 130 cupcakes in a single layer overnight, such that no lizard/rat/rodent can get to them? To illustrate its enormity, 130 cupcakes cover the entire surface area of a round table that seats six people. Well, I could put 40 of them under my mum’s biggest plastic food cover, and another 36 inside cardboard boxes. But what about the remaining 54?

I was about to start foaming at the mouth when Z, putting on his Sherlock cap, looked around and said simply: “Put them in the oven lah.” Yes! The two racks in my mum’s oven could accommodate all the rest. Sorted.

At this point, I would like to sidetrack and encourage all parents of under-achieving kids with this note: There is always hope. My Z failed his elementary math at O level, but look how well he’s turned out! What a problem-solving sleuth, this hero.

Anyway. The next morning, I woke up bright and early, excited to put the finishing swirls on the cupcakes before a guy from church comes to collect them at 2.30pm. Then, the window grille man called. His four workers, along with gigantic glass windows tailored for my six rooms, were waiting outside my apartment.

“What? I thought they’re coming tomorrow,” I cried.

“Oh, sorry. It’s today. They’re there now.”

My mind reeled. I have to open the door for them and keep an eye on them all day. Which means I have to pipe the cupcakes back in my apartment, right smack in the middle of renovation chaos.

So the cupcakes were stacked up again in the three boxes (really, there was no other way) and taken back with me to the apartment. I don’t blame one of the Malaysian workers for looking confused when the foreman told him the xiaojie (me) wants a free room to “make cake”. Trust me, I could choose a better time.

So as the workers tore down my windows and grilles outside, creating what resembled a Sahara-like sandstorm, I was in my guest-room piping cakes. It was a Charlie Kaufman moment right there.

A few more cupcakes were damaged enroute, so I could produce only 127 in the end. After the church guy collected them and left, I heaved a huge sigh of relief and looked out my windowless windows. I can so not bake cupcakes for a long, long time.


8 Responses to “The Feeding Of The 130”

  1. ms Says:

    question: how did the church guy transport 127 cupcakes with buttercream on top, since he couldn’t stack them one on top of another? (as you can tell, i did badly in math too, but i haven’t become any brighter since…)

    ps: i loved the “make cake” part. can die laughing.

  2. crummb Says:

    Answer: I packed them all in three 16×16-inch boxes and two 10×10-inch boxes. Five boxes in all! No wonder the church guy looked a bit shocked when I told him there were so many to carry. He almost couldn’t find enough floor space in his Mersaylee to accommodate all. I think I won’t be getting any more orders from them ;(

  3. Peh Says:

    You should have one more category in your blog for the “special” chocolate cake.

  4. xy Says:

    again, i must say…rivetting!!! don’t stress lah, i’m sure the next time you’ll be able to churn out 300 cupcakes without breaking a sweat 🙂

  5. Clare Says:

    yes I have to echo xy. heart-in-mouth drama you got there. anyway I am sure the kids at church loved your pretty, chocolatey cupcakes.

  6. crummb Says:

    xy and clare, you sensitive arts gals RULE!

  7. Sab Says:

    what a scary story TPL! but your hero hubby sidetrack part made me laugh out so loud it’s not funny. And yes, i failed math in school too

  8. Anne Says:

    Yo! Pau Lin,

    I finally got to read this. So here’s a rather belated comment from the consumer….2 years late. Thank you so much for your labour of love. It did not occur to me the extra mile you had to go and challenges (admittedly, mind boggling) you faced to produce and deliver those delectable & yummy cupcakes. Thank you for being a blessing to us. Reading this brought a smile to my face.
    For the record, the kids & leaders simply loved the cakes. We would have licked every crumb we can find!

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