no more a (competition) virgin

Bet that got your attention…  But it is true, while I’m trying to not be boastful about it.

On Saturday afternoon with well over 100 people there to witness the act, I lost my food competition virginity. In many ways it was not quite how I imagined it, not as romanticized as it may have played out in my head after far too many televised hours of international chocolate, sugar and pastry competitions, Throwdown and the like.  I was one of seven competitors at the Rock! Paper! Scissors! Collective’s 3rd Annual Vegan Cupcake Bake-Off.  For five bucks, attendees received a judge’s badge and ballot, a plate to gather their cupcakes and a fork.  To be honest I was nervous, especially since it was originally ten people (which in my head is less pressure.)  My coworkers and the beloved manthing were amazing and reassuring, encouraging, behind me.

post bake-off recovery coffee
Recovering the morning after with a cup of coffee.
Wait – it was a cupcake competition. Why wear a donut shirt?
Well, why NOT wear a donut shirt? And I will explain. Read on.

Participants were asked to submit a recipe. Naturally I couldn’t choose one (come on, is there any one puppy sleeping in the pile that is THE cutest?) so I submitted recipes for my CocoWHAT cake in cupcake form, Berry Blitz cupcakes and of course, the chosen one, supreme reigning champion of bellies and palates at work, the final rendition of what I lovingly call the Inlaw cupcake.  As the provided sign at my station said “Inlaw” and nothing more, my visual display proved quite useful to tell folks what they were about to eat, or in some cases, that they should steer clear with no offense taken.  To boot, the sign also prompted many-a telling of how the cupcakes came to be and jokes about how these were the type you’d gladly see any time

my little visual ingredient display
My lone chocolate entry in a amidst the coconut, fruited and herbed other entries: a chocolate-chocolate chunk Frangelico cupcake with Peet’s Major Dickisin buttahcreme and a chocolate-coffee ganache.  (Naturally this display was also an excuse to show off my vegan cupcake stand, which everyone should have because it’s ridiculously cute.  I will definitely enter more competitions if nothing more to show off my vegan cupcake stand.  And my Bake and Destroy shirt, which lead to me squeeing my pants.  Dorky fangirl much?  Guilty.  But not embarrassed.)

Overall it was quite the experience!  Competitors were asked to bring 40 cupcakes; I brought 50 and though we were cutting them in quarters for tasting by the voting public, I blew through the first dozen in the blink of an eye.  The next went almost as fast.  People were arriving in droves such such that I began to worry I might run out!  Instead of kicking myself for bringing towels and knives but no tongs, I focused on the important task at hand: getting delicious vegan goods into the mouths and bellies of the cupcake loving public.

In the end I did not take home first or second and the gal who took home the Fat Bottom Bakery secret judge’s prize also won the first two bake-offs!  Talk about some competition.  Yeah, I’ll admit it.  I was bummed!  For my first time out I felt like I fared pretty well but I guess it wasn’t a chocolatey crowd that day.  The next day I was still bummed out enough that I shunned my pirate cupcake shirt in favor of my donut shirt and spent the day eating a Tofurky feast with all the fixin’s in June.  Felt better.  Napped.  Made peace with the cupcakes by eating one of the leftovers.  No worries.  If you have no passion for something you will not take it to heart, right?

That being said, I got many-a warm accolade and “I voted for you” from folks in the crowd, an invite to bake something for this weekend’s bake sale fundraiser in San Francisco, one competitor shared that she liked mine best (so so flattered and no, I won’t say who,) and a gal took my picture with the aforementioned shirt and my cupcake.  All that made me feel like a rockstar.  Not to get all Charlie Sheen on you, but while I did not take home first I cannot say that I am not still WINNING.  It was a day of learning and growing, and a day that told me I could definitely try my hand at something like that again.

[EDIT: Well over a year later, I finally stumbled upon said gal’s post and was flattered all over again. Thanks! I’ll bake for you any time. 08.09.12]

You can crush me and my cupcakes, but you can’t crush my spirit.  (Ow my spirit!  KIDDING.  But please don’t crush the cupcake.  Unless it’s in your mouth.)

Another round of congratulations to those who did place in this year’s competition!  HUGE thanks to the beloved folks who came out (Flo, Erin, of course Colin) — it was really just what I needed to have a familiar face in the crowd.  BIG BIG thanks for the tireless taste testers at work for their feedback and ingredient fund donations.  What are you in the mood for?  I vow to keep the goods coming and to take the next baking-related thing head on (between runs – I really have to bump up my mileage if I’m going to be ready!  Well, that and if I am going to be baking as much as I hope to.)  I’ve dusted myself off and am ready for whatever comes next. 🙂  Have a suggestion?

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