Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake

I am the cup-cake Queen.

Some months ago when I agreed to bake cup-cakes for a morning tea, I did what most self-respecting non bakers would do. I panicked. What was I thinking?  I don’t cook. Well I do, and I’m really brilliant at some things such as one-dish meals—throw it all in and shove it in the oven; slow cooking—put everything in the slow cooker, turn it on, and forget about it for eight hours, and stir fry—in the dim and distant past I did a Chinese cookery course and some things are just never forgotten. But cup-cakes?

I stressed out. I prowled the internet looking for simple recipes. Have you seen some of those pictures on food blogs? OMG! They make Martha Stewart look like a beginner! Some of them have iced flowers on the top of the cakes … iced flowers. WTF. Speaking of Martha, I recall the only show of hers I’ve ever watched (don’t ask) and it was entirely about cup-cakes. Apparently there were 1,000 cup-cakes on the set. Now that’s inspiring.

I turned to recipe books. They were no better. Then someone told me that the photos in recipe books are real photo shoots that take hours to do, and then they’re photo-shopped. Good grief—all you’re going to do is eat it.

I had decided early on that if nothing else my cup-cakes would look good. I bought some colourful paper cups and a packet of fondant icing—I can’t cope with doing everything from scratch first up. The recipe was vanilla (plain and simple), and fairly straightforward—all in the bowl and in with the mixer. Spooned into the cups, which I had put into muffin tins; tip courtesy Martha, and into the oven. Twenty minutes later a rather surprisingly nice batch of cup-cakes appeared. The fondant icing was a whiz—squeeze into bowl, stir a bit, and spread on top. Not bad, and to cut a long story short (something I don’t often do) they were a huge success at tea-time. Well, they all got eaten anyway and, as a measure of their success, I was asked to bake more for another tea some weeks hence.

Success had gone to my head, and this time I was going to get serious. I found an online company in Sydney that sold cup-cake wrappers and cups. The wrappers and cups come in various colours and designs; you can get kids designs, weddings, 1950s (apparently a decade famous for cup-cakes), and scary one with skulls and crossbones on. You can even get decorations to put on the top.

I invested. I ordered a variety pack of 24 baking cups and splurged on a packet of iced flower toppers. I now know where those cooking bloggers get them … and, to my simple vanilla recipe I added an over-ripe banana, and made my own icing (oh yes indeedy) with icing sugar and cream cheese. In their gorgeous little 1950s cups, with little flowers atop the cream cheese, my cup-cakes had centre place.

Now when a morning tea comes up, there’s an understanding that the Queen (that’s me) will do the cup-cakes. I’ve advanced so far that I now own a cup-cake carry box and a three tier cup-cake stand, and will consider special requests. I’ve even started answering to Martha and wearing a solid anklet.

As long as I have access to the little internet shop in Sydney I can handle anything.

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