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[B] USINESS different from other baking. I was most concerned with decorating them because I had no cake decorating skills whatsoever.” But the couple whole-heartedly embraced the personal traits associated with homemade cupcakes, and believed Stefani could exceed their expectations. With no culinary background, Stefani’s exploration began. She planned to bake at least one new flavor cupcake every week, inviting the bride and groom to try every creation, all the while juggling a full-time job. “When I first started, I looked to some existing cupcake websites that were out there, and tried out some of their recipes,” Stefani reveals. But before long, she was designing concoctions all her own, and dedicating her spare time to networking with other bloggers and researching new inspiration. Stefani quickly became addicted to developing new formulas, and would turn every inspiration she had into a cupcake. “I started thinking that any food combination which tasted good together,” she explains, “could possibly become a good cupcake idea.” This train of thought inevitably led to some creative, yet not-sodelectable mixtures. “The very worst cupcake that I ever made was a corn beef and cabbage cupcake,” confesses Stefani, “and I don’t even know what I was thinking. The frosting tasted like sauerkraut. It was really awful.” But not every unusual flavor fails the taste test. She has had other atypical recipes that were truly delicious, like her beer cheese 44 AMERICAN LIFESTYL E cupcakes with a bacon cheddar cream cheese frosting. “Sometimes, the weird works, and sometimes it doesn’t.” It only takes one test batch of twenty-four cupcakes to perfect the average recipe. Some may say that this is because Stefani is exceptionally good at what she does. But the cupcake connoisseur did reveal a little secret: “I don’t always take the time to get my recipe perfect. I’ll make a cupcake, and if it is really bad, I won’t serve it to the bride and groom or even write about it in the blog. It is usually a one-time shot, unless it is extremely bad and I really want to give it another go.” Regardless of the handful of recipes that missed their mark, Stefani certainly mastered cupcake baking, and the bride and groom couldn’t have been more pleased. “None of us had really explored flavor options,” recounts Stefani. “I think the couple was expecting vanilla and chocolate or something more traditional, so they were really surprised when I started presenting all these different choices.” In the end, the bride and groom selected drink-themed cupcakes— soda fountain, margarita, and gingerbread latte. Two days before the wedding, Stefani baked eight dozen of each flavor within her modest home kitchen. “It was more work than I could have ever imagined it would be,” she acknowledges. “I baked all the cupcakes first, and then I frosted them the day before and even the morning of the wedding.” AMERICAN LIFESTYLE 45

American Lifestyle Magazine

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