After the raving success of the first Cupcake Camp Columbus back in May, planning was immediately underway for the next installment. Round 1, held in the back room of Surly Girl Saloon, was a cozy intimate gathering, but it was obvious by the almost immediate sell out of tickets that there were a lot of cupcake lovers here in Columbus that wanted in on the sugary action. Round 2 would have to be somewhere that could accommodate all those ravenous cupcake fiends. When Kiesha (52 Weeks of Baking, and the genius mastermind behind Cupcake Camp Columbus) announced that the next round, officially known as Revenge of Cupcake Camp Columbus would be held at the North Market downtown, I was thrilled! Number 1, I love the North Market! And Number 2 that meant it had the possibility to be much bigger and better! More cupcake connoisseurs to partake in the fun and hopefully even more cupcakes to eat!
For the Revenge, there were six categories to bake in: Best Decorated, Best Ohio Pride, Best Harvest, Best Halloween, Best Vegan, and Best North Market Inspiration. I had decided on the Market Inspiration category almost immediately, knowing I wanted to make a Wild Blueberry and Gouda Truffle Cupcake, inspired by Pure Imagination Chocolatier, but I struggled with the second flavor. I toyed with the idea of the Vegan category, but once I started cruising the aisles at Whole Foods with the recipe I wanted to try, and realized I’d be spending more on a batch of cupcakes than I usually do on regular food, it was time to rethink my strategy. Parking myself in the dining area of Whole Foods, I started brainstorming with Boyfriend for new ideas. After commandeering his iPhone to search for recipes (man that thing is handy! I’m going to have to get one eventually…), I settled on Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Rum Frosting. As if it were a sign, Boyfriend even managed to score the last two cans of pumpkin in the entire store.
Although I may have started out with good baking karma, Revenge of Cupcake Camp Columbus held true to the Revenge part of its name. The baking gods, while not trying to ruin my attempts outright, found small means of sabotage along the way. My chocolate cupcake base for my Market Inspiration made exactly the four dozen minis I needed, however, with part of them humpbacked, and others completely coming out of their wrappers, I had to make another small batch to make up for the ugliness of the first. My double batch of pumpkin cupcakes also made exactly the two dozen regular sized I needed, and after decapitating two taking them out of the oven, I had to make another batch of those as well.
The morning of Cupcake Camp was reserved for frosting and putting everything together. The Blueberry and Gouda came together nicely, but the Cinnamon Rum frosting for the pumpkin was a bit too thick, making it hard to pipe onto the cupcakes. After popping the first piping bag, I had to dump the whole thing back in the mixer and add milk to thin it out. With only one single piping bag left in the house, and no time to go get more, I tried my hardest to finish up without popping another one. I managed to get just enough done and boxed up before it blew out again. It wasn’t until just now, thinking back on the issue, that I realized I was using the wrong tip to pipe, which might have been part of the problem. That morning, I grabbed the 1M tip I always use from my stash, or so I thought. I knew I had two tips that said 1M on it, but I always thought they were exactly the same. Actually looking at them now, they’re not. The one I normally use is a large star tip. The one I grabbed, a large drop flower tip. I never realized I even had that one! Note to self for next time. Pay attention to what I’m grabbing.
With the bag popping drama, I was way behind on time. I had fully intended to actually pick out a nice outfit and do my hair; to actually look half-way decent for once. We were supposed to bring our cupcakes to register between 12:15 and 12:30. Accounting for travel time and parking, I would have to leave my house at about 11:45 to be there on time. After throwing my hair up in a wet ball of a ponytail and throwing on whatever I could find, Boyfriend and I left the house at 12:17. There was no way we were getting there on time. Especially when we got to the Market and saw the line of cars trying to get into the parking lot. Great. Who knows how far we’d have to park now, carrying not only my six dozen cupcakes, but my coworker Becky’s cupcakes that I had promised to deliver since she wouldn’t be there in time. And I was already really late. After a minor meltdown, I ended up just getting out of the car in the middle of the street, grabbing one of Becky’s carriers, running for the Market to check in, and hoping that Boyfriend would have found a spot by the time I came back out for the next load, preferably not a mile away. Luckily when I came back down, he had a spot right out front.
The baking gods thankfully backed off for the actual event. It was awesome! So many amazing cupcakes! And so many people! The place was packed! When it was time to start eating cupcakes, it was a little bit of chaos. People were grabbing things all over! By the time I even made it to some of the tables, there were already empty trays! We ended up having to split up with our own plates and just grab whatever we could get to, and put back the doubles when we met up again. With only a little bit of seating around a bar at the back, and chairs lined along the walls, most of us just plopped down on the floor with our plates and dove in. They were all so good! I really wish I could have eaten more than I did, and been able to try the ones I wasn’t quick enough to get to before they disappeared. But I definitely had my fill.
Revenge also featured a contest called Cupcake Crush—who could eat a plate of 20 mini cupcakes the fastest. And that was AFTER everyone had eaten their fill of cupcakes! It seemed to be a challenge only men would try, with more than half the table full of big burly guys, but two of the cutest little girls gave it a shot too. Everyone had a different technique—taking off all the wrappers first, standing up, shoving in two at a time, or in the case of the little girls, just enjoying every bite. Faster than I ever thought possible, we had a winner! I still don’t know how he ate 20 cupcakes, even if they were minis, in less than 5 minutes. I felt sick just watching them try. All in all, it was such a great event! Everyone seemed to have so much fun. I know I did. Even if I couldn’t move for the rest of the day (or week). Boyfriend even bought me a poster from the event, so now I have my very own Revenge of Cupcake Camp Columbus awesomeness hanging on my wall! Although, maybe I shouldn’t have it, because after he bought it, the baking gods went right back to hating on us.
We headed downstairs to get some pictures of Pure Imagination Chocolatier and some truffles for my post on the cupcakes. Handing Boyfriend my poster and the $2 I was carrying in my hand, I got out my camera and started snapping away. I got some good ones, but where was my truffle? The only one not in the case was the Wild Blueberry and Gouda! There was just a sign saying they were currently sold out. (I’m going to tell myself it was because everyone tasted my cupcake and ran down to get their own!) I was a bit disappointed, but oh well. I’d think of something else for my cupcake pictures. We decided to just head home since I was quickly succumbing to my sugar coma.
We only had just the $2 in cash I had given Boyfriend to pay for parking, since Boyfriend had used all his to buy the poster. That’s normally enough for parking. Apparently not on a Saturday. When we got to the gate, the total was $4. Crap. We didn’t have any more money. We had to try to back up and not hit the people in line behind us to go park again and find an ATM to get more. Luckily Becky was leaving at the same time and saved the day, loaning us two more dollars. We went to get back in line and realized we still only had $2—Becky’s $2 she had just given us. We were missing my original $2. I swore I gave it to Boyfriend while I was taking pictures, he swore I didn’t. I searched my purse and pockets, and came up with nothing. He searched his wallet and pants pockets—nothing. Another meltdown ensued. Finally, thinking to check his coat pocket he found the money. Now let’s get the hell out of here. And if that guy at the gate tells us its more than $4 now, someone’s gonna get hurt.
After that, the rest of the day went fine. I slept off my sugar coma on the couch at Boyfriend’s while watching the football game, and finally got the energy to get up and go home around midnight. Walking in my door and turning on the light in my hall, I noticed a little black rock in the middle of the floor—the kind I have in a vase on my shelf that’s holding all my cookbooks. What was it doing on the floor? Looking to the left towards my shelf, there was no more vase. There wasn't even a shelf anymore. Just a hole ripped out of the wall where the shelf used to be, and a pile cookbooks on the floor.
I’m still not sure whether it was gravity or a 4-legged furry friend thinking he could jump over from the kitchen table that brought it all down, but it was one hell of a mess. And looking into the kitchen all I saw sitting on top of the stove…