Friday, January 6, 2012

How to Make a lot of cupcakes

Chocolate Stout cupcakes with Vanilla and PB Frosting
There have been a many times when I've been asked or hired (or wanted) to make cupcakes in large quantities.  There was Meghann an Brent's wedding, the Dogfish   beer dinner and the National Capital Area Cake Show last year to mention a few.  Each time when someone says "I need 100 cupcakes", I accept gladly.  And then I remember how much work it is! 

Over break I made 120 cupcakes for the birthday party of Kim, the GM at the Dogfish Alehouse in Fairfax.   It was probably the most sucessful baking of a large amount of cupcakes I've ever had.  And I realized that it was because I had done it enough that I'd really learned something.  Since technically the cupcakes I made dont count as a separate post (since I've made them before!) I thought "I could post on what its like to make a LOT of cupcakes".   So here you go; my tips on how to make a large amount of cupcakes for an event if you're not a professional with a staff.

1. Have a Plan:  Making a large amount of cupcakes is not easy.  It can be stressful and exhausting.  So the best way to make sure you're starting on the right track is to have a plan.   This includes WHEN you'll be making them, WHERE you will be making them & storing them, WHAT you are going to need to make them and HOW you are going to get them somewhere. I even go as far to write down exactly how many cups of flour, sticks of butter, eggs etc that i'm going to need.  That way I dont "overbuy" or "underbuy" supplies.  This is especially important if you're going to be selling your cupcakes. 
I planned out exactly how to make and carry all my cupcakes!

2. Practice: While I am willing to take advantage of any situation where I get to try out a new recipe, when you're making 100+ of the it adds in a lot more stress!   If you're going to try a new recipe, make sure you practice before.  Otherwise you'll have no idea what to expect.

3. Keep it simple:  100 cupcakes is a lot.  You dont want to make a recipe that involves a lot of steps.  Keep it as simple as possible.   You also probably don't want to do too many recipes.  For Dogfish I made one cupcake type but with two different icings, which was way less stressful then two completely different cupcakes. I have even been known to make box cupcakes and focus on the filling and icing (but shhhh dont tell!)

4. Allow PLENTY of timeI would double or triple your estimated time taking to complete the task.  That way you can take your time and not get stressed.  This will also allow time for clean up!  There's nothing worse than spending all day working and stressing, and then coming home to a disaster of a kitchen after delivering your cupcakes.   Or going to deliver the cupcakes with icing in your hair (not that I have EVER done this...).   I tend to spread out the process over two days to allow for a break.

5. Be Patient:  It's not going to go perfectly.... you just need to be patient and take your time and not get stressed.   In the last batch of cupcakes I made, I doubled the recipe.  Well when I was melting the butter, beer and sugar, I failed to double the sugar.  The entire batch (48 of them!) were completely inedible.    But I just took a deep breath and tried again.   I will admit that was atypical Michelle behavior, but it ended up being a success.


6. Don't be afraid to ask for help:  I am definitely and "independent" person (hence why one of the things on my thirty by thirty is to run a race with a friend!), but it is always nice to have some help.  Whether it be my father helping me stick bows on boxes for a wedding favor, or Meghann helping me put sprinkles on for the beer dinner or friends being there to help bounce ideas of off or Mike helping me control 3 animals and sacrificing by taking a trip to Dogfish during the Notre Dame game to help me deliver cupcakes; I've always appreciate the help!    And it definitely will cut down on the stress level of the activity! 
 
Though cute, Willa and Albert are not helpful

 



And last... but not least... in fact the MOST important!

7. HAVE FUN!:  If you're not having fun, then it's not worth doing!  It may be a lot of work, but the end result should be a good time.  My cupcakes were very well received (in fact told they were some of the bartenders favorite I've ever made!) and it made for an absolute great experience.
 
So there you have it... my keys to successfully making a lot of cupcakes!  

Cupcakes were Chocolate Stout cupcakes with either Peanut Butter Frosting or Vanilla frosting.  There was a chocolate stoudt reduction on top cupcakes which was made with about a cup of beer and half a bag of dark chocolate chips.  I heated them in a double boiler until it was reduced to be an easily pipeable topping.

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