When I moved to California from New York in 2005, cupcakes had already exploded all over the New York confectionery scene. The Cupcake Cafe had become a New York icon, with Magnolia Bakery, not to mention countless others, not far behind. On the west coast, the cupcake was just entering its renaissance.
“How passé,” I remember thinking. “Cupcakes are, like, so NYC 2004.”
And then, “this too shall pass.”
Boy, was I wrong.
If cake was a blank canvas waiting for me to bring it to life, cupcakes had a life of their own. They didn’t need me as much. Slap a little icing on top, maybe throw some sprinkles at it, and your done. I’m an artist more than a baker, and the idea of churning out 150 identically iced cupcakes just didn’t spell creative to me.
For a while, I refused to make cupcakes. But the requests kept coming, and my resistance eventually wore down. I sold my first batch of cupcakes. And so I learned to appreciate the cupcake, albeit several years too late. Indeed, designing cupcakes can be just as artistically challenging as designing a cake. Now, I just think of them as smaller canvases.
I admit that I’m still not a huge fan. I have no problem with the way they taste, per se, although I do find that they dry out in the baking process more easily than cake. I have a problem with the esthetics of the cupcake. Sorry, but in their natural state, they’re just not fancy enough for me. And they’re not uniform enough. So, I put my own spin on cupcakes: I make my own cupcake wrappers. I’m not talking about the paper baking cups. I’m talking about a custom wrapper that goes around the cups. Here’s how I did it.
First, I designed a template. Once I had the shape right, it was easy. I went to Michael’s and bought some 12×12 scrapbook paper I liked. This is where the DIY wrapper is superior to the store bought wrapper: The possibilities are endless. (Well, almost endless. It depends on the available paper.)
Cut the paper. It now resembles a rainbow shape.
Used my daughter’s fancy scissors. (Note: It’s helpful to have a seven-year old who has all sorts of fancy scissors so you don’t have to buy any, but if you don’t have one, you can just go to your local crafts store.) Be sure to cut the outer edge of the paper (i.e., the top part of the rainbow).
Wrapped the cupcake wrappers around the paper baking cups and taped the back. You are now read to use your custom cupcake wrappers. Just drop in your already baked (and still wrapped in their paper baking liner) cupcake.
For the baker: I don’t allow the paper to touch my cupcakes. The paper isn’t greaseproof, so any grease or fat will stain the paper, and not all paper is foodsafe. If you’d like a copy of the template, shoot me an email with “cupcake template” in the subject line at: firstname.lastname@example.org