February 19, 2010

Cupcake Fail

Just take a gander at this cupcake.  Okay.  Go ahead, take two.  Look at the creamy, white chocolate buttercream icing with dark chocolate sprinkles on top that look like lavender pollen dusted on by a group of fairies.  And look at the muffin top, brimming with just enough moisture but hinting at a bit of crunch.  Don’t you just want to sink your teeth into this treat?  Well, if you do, be warned.  You may lose a molar.

The truth is, I made these cupcakes for a dear friend’s birthday who happens to have a gluten allergy.  So these sweet muffins were wheat and salt free.  Pretty much a cupcake’s worst nightmare.  But the restricted ingredients were not the problem here, it was my inability to follow directions.  I consider myself a good cook because I am willing to experiment, to go commando without the aid of a recipe and alter flavors and more importantly, intentions, as I go.  And this is how I’ve been able to come up with low sodium versions of standard recipes – I’m not afraid to draw outside the lines.

But when it comes to baking,  lines and measurements and exact ingredients are of the utmost importance.  And on this fateful day of cupcakery, I had none of the above.  First, I couldn’t find a recipe I liked so I decided to combine two that looked intriguing.  Fail number one.  Second, I didn’t have the right amount of eggs nor the right amount of butter, so I “made up the difference” with orange juice and applesauce.  Fail number two.  And finally, when the batter looked too runny (and since my measuring cups were already covered in soap in the sink), I decided to haphazardly throw in some extra flour until it looked right.

The result: beautiful cupcakes that tasted like dusty cardboard.  And the fate of these failed treats?  Let’s just say the two dozen goodies held the birthday candle long after it had been blown out.  Luckily, I decided to take one for the team and I ate most of the frosting off of the tops, just so the cupcakes didn’t get self conscious.  You can’t really mess up white chocolate, cream, and butter.

The point of this sad and truly wasteful tale is that you will fail.  Many times.  Especially when you are constantly trying to cook without the crutch of salt and officially rewrite recipe history.  But failure is okay.  Maybe a little embarassing, but completely normal.  And with every failure you learn a lesson that will make you an even stronger cook the next time around.  I learned that I am not a baker and next time, this friend is getting a birthday meatloaf.  Chow on.

Magdalena Cabrera February 19, 2010 at 8:46 am

I love this piece. I love you. YOU are such a complete success in my heart and mind.

graham February 19, 2010 at 9:15 am

A brave soul indeed, and to admit that you failed is a testament to your inner courage, that leads to the next time…you will succeed…I am not a baker either, but each failure leads to a goal of doing better…thanks for your inspiration and determination

Penelope February 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

As the dietarily challenged birthday girl mentioned in this entry, I have to note that the gluten free love I felt on that day was measured and baked to perfection… plus, some of those sad little cupfake treasures did get eaten by a particularly hungry gentleman passing by our table, so not all went to waste!

Aunt Tricia February 19, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Really enjoyed this article. My dad always said, “The only time you fail is when you fail to try.” Thank you for sharing your learning experiences. Baking is both art and science; yet one more thing that requires balance. Great job!!

Cyn February 20, 2010 at 12:59 pm

They still LOOK beautiful! Keep trying!

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