Friday, March 21, 2014

How to Bake Party Cupcakes on a Busy Schedule

When I started working 40 hours a week, I knew my life would get crazy.

What I didn't realize was that between work, sleep, my class, eating, cleaning, and my husband that I really wouldn't have time left for my beloved DIY projects and basically any other hobby - like calligraphy where I bought all the supplies and a book but now have no time to practice.

I thought that with time, I would get used to the schedule and still have some free time.  Well, I've gotten used to the schedule and have come to find out that was wrong.  I've even missed my absolute favorite event of the week (Taco Tuesday - free tacos and no cooking or cleaning, c'mon y'all) on a consistent basis.

There's not much time for fun things.
With that being said, I was asked to bake cupcakes for my Great Grandpa's 100th Birthday party not long ago.  I was excited, but knowing my new schedule, I was pretty intimidated.  I mean, it wasn't just 6 cupcakes to make.

Now, I don't know if you've noticed in the blog/Pinterest world, but making recipes from scratch seems to be the epitome of being a great wife/cook/party thrower/woman.  I had it in my head that I was really failing at this cupcake business if I didn't make them by starting with a bag of flour and sugar.
But by the middle of the week before the party, I knew this would be how I'd be making cupcakes for the party.


1.  Go to the store and purchase several boxes of cake mix in the flavor you want.
2.  Make sure you have enough eggs and oil.
3.  Check the back of the box and make sure you aren't missing anything.
4.  Checkout and pay for your boxed cakes and avoid eye contact with cashier or use self checkout.  You're gonna look like you eat A LOT of cake.
5.  Go home and prepare to completely destroy your kitchen (but don't bother cleaning it up until the next day unless you have more energy than me).

6.  Follow directions on back of box for cupcake method.  (Don't forget to eat all the ugly cupcakes while they're hot.  No one will ever know.)

7.  Have a backup plan for how you plan to "trick" people into not realizing you used box cake.
     a.)  Make icing and put it on pretty.
  b. )  Make a cute decoration that overcompensates for your lack of baking from scratch.
  c.)  Attend your event with confidence!

At first, I felt bad about using boxed cake mixes to make the cupcakes.  But now that I did it, I don't feel bad at all.  In fact, I'm glad I used them.

I spent considerably less time to make about 50 cupcakes, test drove a car, ate food from our favorite Korean restaurant, spent time with a friend, and caught up on Sons of Anarchy (the next show that is in order for TV night at our place).

I made successful icing for the first time in my life (yes, I could fail at making icing).  I made the cupcakes pretty with the icing.  And if that wasn't enough to make up for using boxed cake, I decided to sacrifice sleep and make some cute cupcake tags from old photos and my new calligraphy markers that I found on sale!
Moral of the story:  If you're life is super busy, go ahead.  Make cupcakes from boxed cake mix.  And spend your time doing more important things like spend time with people and make cute decorations.  Because chances are most people won't know whether you used a cake mix or not...and if they do, they'll eat it anyway.
And if they don't eat it anyway...well, tough luck.
Next week I'll post a short post on how I made the cupcake tags!  They helped dress the cupcakes up so much, plus they can serve as a keepsake if anyone wants them!
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  1. I know what you mean about pre-mix shame. I made scones from premix to impress the in-laws, and felt so guilty when they told me how amazing they were... BUT I don't see why premix should be shameful at all. If it means that you can focus on other things instead, why not? That said, I find premix just as much effort as baking from scratch, because I'm more likely to have flour, sugar, eggs and milk than I am to have premix. But not for 50 cupcakes - premix is waaaay easier to calculate there!

    1. Totally agree, if it really is helping you make your life more meaningful in other ways I think the store bought stuff can be a lifesaver (obviously!) And sometimes it is easier/more fun or fulfilling to make things from scratch, but I really hate the shame that seems to be involved with choosing the easier route sometimes! haha

  2. Haha, I love this post :) When I am reading blogs and on Pinterest, I always end up feeling bad that I can't make literally everything from scratch, most things aren't planned in advance, and the photos for my blog are generally taking late at night. But then I remind myself -- when blogging isn't your full-time job, and you do have an out-of-the-home full-time job, there's really not much time for anything. I work 45-50 hours a week, have a significant other, help take care of a sick relative, am trying to start up my own business, etc.... cupcakes from scratch? I think not. I'll buy the boxed version and avoid eye contact too :) Haha!

    1. Exactly. There are more important things in life than trying to keep up with being able to make everything like a 50s housewife would have done...but we don't have near the time they did! And I don't think our families or friends really expect that from us, I know I personally was expecting it from myself until I threw it out the window.

      And on your note about blog photography...yes. It is SO hard to take any good blog photos when the only ones you are able to take are at night when there is no natural light. Natural light seems to be the key to being a "successful" blogger. ;P

  3. You have no reason to feel bad about making boxed cupcakes. That's what I would have done too!!!

    1. Thanks Susannah! I really don't feel bad at all now, but I think feeling like I needed to live up to that super-cook/wife/woman-party-thrower-person standard got the best of me in the initial preparation stages of the party! :)

  4. Actually, cake and brownies are the two things I will make from a mix--a lot of things taste way better from scratch, but box mix cake and brownies are already so good that I'm content with the box! :)

    1. Boxed brownies are great! I've made them from scratch a few times, but there wasn't a lot of difference between them besides the amount of mess I made! haha

  5. Great post Saxon! I remember reading a blog that featured the blogger's amazing parties. They had themes with perfect decorations, favors, food, photos. You name it, and it was perfect. Then she revealed a secret that I'll never forget. She said that most of her amazing cakes are actually store bought. She buys a store-made cake from the bakery section, scrapes off the frosting, and decorates it to match the theme. I never forgot that post, and now I don't feel guilty ever using boxed cake mix and frosting! I think the best hosts are the smartest ones ;)

    1. Its so true - sometimes it really is about choosing the route that is most efficient! I remember watching a news story a long time ago about a mom who always bought store bought bakery foods and put them in her own dishes to take to events, and no one ever knew. Of course, they were practically shaming her in the segment, but I've always thought of her as a sneaky but kind of clever kind of gal. I would never try to pass off something store bought as homemade though like she did!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I bet they tasted amazing! They look divine.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  7. Sometimes you absolutely do have to take the easy route! It's amazing how much of your sanity it can save.

  8. Don't feel bad for using a boxed cake mix! Seriously. Cupcakes from scratch are hard! I've tried multiple times, but they never come out as delicious and moist as the box. Those look awesome! You did a great job on the frosting :)

  9. It looks really amazing, It must be really yummy. Now am feeling hungry.

  10. Boxed cupcakes are just as good in my opinion! A couple of things I do to with boxed cakes mixes is add in a package of instant jello pudding mix, like chocolate or cheesecake, and I heard you can add a teaspoon of almond extract to boxed cake mixes and they taste like homemade!

  11. Thanks so much for sharing on my T.G.I.F. linky party :) Have a great day!


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