Sunday, January 27, 2013

A breath of fresh air

You know that case of writer's block that's so severe, it lasts almost a year?

No, neither do I. 

I do, however, know the five stages of grief from being completely abandoned by T as she was going through said case:
  • Denial: Oh, she's busy. She'll write a post in a couple of days.
  • Anger: What the? She's posting photos of her baking on Facebook, but not here?!
  • Bargaining: It doesn't have to be a long post. Just a couple of lines and a photo.
  • Depression: She's outgrown me...
  • Acceptance: I was just a figment of her imagination. And she's stopped imagining. It was fun while it lasted.
Right when I was about to lose all hope, inspiration struck. It didn't strike me (I don't need inspiration, I am inspiration). T found a secret backyard garden and started taking photos of her cakes there.

And thanks to that little secret garden, she now has a growing collection of some very outdoorsy cupcake photos—and a desire to start writing again.

As for me, Carrie Cakeaway? Well. You're reading this post, aren't you?

I'm back.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I do

The following happened in November, and I haven't been able to find the words to capture the magic of the occasion. So for the first time ever, I'm going to have my assistant T author a post because she was there in person. As you know, she does all of the actual baking here and, unlike me, is a very real person. So do her a favor and transport yourself back three months. The leaves are still red, the air is getting chilly, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner...

November 19, 2011
Hold yourself together... I'm blinking away tears, and have no idea when they started falling. Maybe when I first saw Karen, glowing and beautiful in her white dress. Or when I caught Joe's beaming face as he watched her walk down the aisle. No, it must've been the vows—their emotional exchange of promises as they recounted all the things they love about each other.

No matter, no one can see me. In the blink of an eye, we're up from our seats, applauding and cheering as they kiss and make their way down the aisle as newlyweds. Husband and wife. Mr. and Mrs. Joe and Karen Paone. They do!

As the guests flock to the bar and appetizer tables for the cocktail hour, I duck into the cottage where the cupcakes are on display: Three tiers of cupcakes sitting on a cloud of rose-tinted tulle, topped with a photo of Karen and Joe. The cupcake tier is the centerpiece of a rustic wagon filled with assorted candies, cookies, and other sweets.

I move one of the vanilla peach cupcakes a hair to the left. This is the culmination of a sleepless night spent mixing and baking, frosting and decorating. It's the end of 121 miles of travel from San Francisco to Monterey, where each bump and turn sent me into a mild panic attack. And this is the first time I've ever baked for a wedding. I'm nervous. I'm thrilled. I'm running on adrenaline.

I take one last look at the cupcakes stacked neatly on the tier before rejoining the festivities. Dinner is delicious, the speeches are heartfelt, and the slideshow draws laughter and aww's from the guests. Before I know it, it's time.

I hold my breath as everyone makes their way into the little cottage. All eyes are on Karen and Joe as they each select a cupcake. Joe chooses a red velvet, while Karen takes a peanut butter cup, and they playfully take a bite of each other's before finishing their own. The cake has been "cut," the couple is beaming, and the guests flock to the dessert table. I can't help but smile when the compliments come. They like the cupcakes. They really like 'em!

The rest of the night is a whirlwind of dancing and laughing, and I'm out like a light the moment my head hits the headrest on the ride home.

Karen and Joe—congratulations! From Cupcake Wars to your beautiful wedding, you've helped me grow so much as a baker this year. I can't thank you enough for your trust and support, and am so incredibly happy for you.

And thanks so much, V, for being such an amazing baking assistant and photographer. I really couldn't have done this without you.

To the happy couple!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy new year!

Hi there! Happy new year! Here I am, saying hello, waving, acting as though I haven't been irresponsibly, unresponsively neglecting this blog throughout 2011...

My assistant T still believes in the whole new year's resolution thing (how charming), and is resolving to keep all promises in 2012. I guess I have to follow suit, being a figment of her imagination and all. So here it is:

I promise to post at least once a week - every week in 2012 -- starting today. And I promise to share more: more photos, more recipes, and more cake.

And to kick things off -- how about a photo of two of the things we love most here at Carrie Cakeaway: craft beers and freshly baked and frosted cupcakes. Cheers to more recipes featuring our favorite brews. Some pair with cupcakes, others go straight into the batter, and still others are spontaneously enjoyed by the baker.

Bourbon mudslides on the left, chocolate strawberry shortcakes on the right, fancy beers in the back, happy feelings all around. Now that's the kind of Tuesday that one could get used to.

Apologies in advance for derailing any belly-busting new year's resolutions. But in all seriousness, I'm wishing you a happy, healthy 2012 filled with sugar, spice, and all things nice.

With love,
Carrie Cakeaway

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick or treat

Trick or treat?

How many times have you actually received a trick instead of a treat -- and what was it? A caramel-dipped onion? A pop quiz in your history class? A heart-stopping scare from a scarecrow that you thought was a lawn fixture? (Ha ha, very funny. Now where's my candy, you jerk?) Or maybe you've had the pleasure of trick-or-treating in a ritzy neighborhood where the 1% handed out full-sized candy bars and dolla dolla bills.

Well, here at Carrie Cakeaway, we can't promise you a gold watch in your goodie bag, but we're all about the treats. Like a mixed cupcake assortment. Check out our newly logofied boxes (yay, branding!) filled with sixteen snugly arranged cupcakes in four tasty flavors. In this one we have, from top to bottom:

  • S'mores - Chocolate cupcakes with a gooey marshmallow center, a swirl of vanilla frosting, a Teddy Graham resting against a marshmallow pillow and mini chocolate chips
  • Birthday cake - Vanilla cupcakes topped with fudgy dark chocolate ganache frosting and confetti sprinkles
  • Not-quite-angel-food cake - Vanilla cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and confetti sprinkles
  • Peanut butter cup - Chocolate cupcakes topped with fluffy peanut butter frosting and mini chocolate chips
Now that's something even the most vicious of werewolves and hungriest of vampires can sink their teeth into - and maybe even share with a zombie or two. What are you going to be for Halloween this Monday?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Farewell to summer

What marks the end of summer in your mind? The day after Labor Day? The first day of school? The moment the leaves start to change? This year, the first day of autumn officially fell on September 23, but I've come to expect Indian summers in San Francisco, with glorious summer sunshine lasting well into October. Here at Carrie Cakeaway, what signals the change in seasons isn't weather, but produce.

Every summer, we look forward to bright, juicy berries, ripe peaches and plums just bursting with fragrance and flavor, and plump, jammy figs. When these start disappearing from the marketplace, our hearts sink just a little bit -- apples, even in all of their beautiful varieties, just aren't the same.

So this post is dedicated to the last of the berries, stone fruits, and other sweet summer fruits, and one of our favorite summer creations this year -- our chocolate-dipped raspberry cupcake. Inspired by Monica, who first requested these for a bridal shower in July, we couldn't get enough of these rich chocolate cupcakes topped with tangy cream cheese frosting, a trio of fresh raspberries, and a drizzle of dark chocolate fudge.

Now that we've gotten that out of our system, we'll quietly tuck our sundresses away and try to stop with the pouting. After all, we're well into pumpkin season and Halloween is right around the corner! What are you going to be this year?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pointing fingers

So, post-Cupcake Wars, I’ve just about disappeared off the face of the internet. I know time and time again, I’ve promised that I’d post more frequently, and I continue to blame my assistant for my failure to do so. (After all, I’m still a figment of her imagination). Well, you can blame her too now that she’s been revealed to you after 2+ years of anonymity -- funny how five minutes of hot dog infamy on the Food Network can unravel all of my hard work in keeping her name and identity under wraps! So yes, point your fingers, scowl with disappointment, and send incendiary messages because the fact that we’ve had a sorry total of twelve posts this year is all her fault.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me share with you some things that we’ve been whipping up in the kitchen. The reporting may be slow, but the baking sure hasn’t stopped! Back in August, T and several coworkers threw a farewell party for FeiFei before her big move to New York. Her sendoff included an elaborate game of Fishbowl, an international Google+ hangout, and more variations of Pad Thai than one could ever dream of. T brought our signature strawberry-dipped mudslide: Kahlua-bourbon chocolate cake topped with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting and carefully arranged fresh strawberries. Here it is, almost complete:

Cheers to you, FeiFei! We all hope you’re doing well in New York. You continue to be missed, so please visit us in (mostly) sunny California soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So, about last night...

It happened! You may have seen my assistant T on TV last night competing on Cupcake Wars (and if you didn't, the episode will re-air on Sunday and next Wednesday on the Food Network, so read no further, as spoilers follow). And you're probably wondering: What was she thinking?

Well, a couple of things:
  • This is our chance to make something epic that the world has never seen before
  • We've made bacon cupcakes before with great results - hot dogs can't be that far off! (wrong)
  • Go big or go home!
Annnd, she went home. But that's okay! I'm so proud of her and Karen for making it on to the show - a huge win for amateur bakers and aspiring bakery owners. And while I would have loved to compete myself (have I ever told you how hard it is to get onto reality TV when you're imaginary?), it was so exciting to see the girls on TV baking their hearts out.

The most disappointing part of it all was that T didn't have a chance to show what we can really do here at Carrie Cakeaway. So take a look around. No frills, no frankfurters (we promise) -- just delicious cupcakes with super tasty frostings, a sense of adventure, and a splash of bourbon here and there.

Please continue to support us by liking us on Facebook and stay tuned for our latest creations! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the episode.

Be frank. And let the hot dog puns begin.