Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Cupcake interview with Stefani Pollack of Cupcake Project
Name: Stefani Pollack
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Occupation: Freelance Writer
How has your site Cupcake Project evolved from when you started it to now?
When I first started Cupcake Project, it was just a way to remember all of the cupcakes I was baking and to help the bride and groom I was baking for remember which ones they liked best. I never expected anyone to read it other than my friends and family. Now, I have regular readers from all over the world. I love meeting new people through the blog and hearing their ideas and feedback.
Also, when I started, I was just taking quick snapshots for the blog photos. Now, due in part to Cupcake Project, my husband has become a professional photographer. So, we spend a lot more time thinking about the photos and getting them all set up perfectly.
Your original mission was to make cupcakes for a bride and groom, and they wound up going with 3 types of cupcakes – Soda Fountain cupcakes, Margarita cupcakes, Gingerbread latte cupcakes. Did these choices surprise you?
I think they surprised all of us. When I first started, I had never even imagined that those cupcake flavors existed. It totally surprised me that those were the ones they ended up picking. The biggest surprise was the margarita cupcake. I saw margarita as a summer flavor and I figured that there was no way they would choose it for a New Year's Eve wedding. However, it was a huge hit with the bride's family and they ended up going for it.
Soda fountain cupcake
Where do you get your recipe ideas from?
I get my ideas from absolutely everywhere. One thing I like doing is participating in non-baking blog events and challenging myself to come up with cupcake flavors that go with those event themes. For example, I just made a bean and tomato cupcake for a legume blog event.
What’s been your favorite cupcake so far?
The crowd favorite was definitely the Better than Sex Chocolate cupcakes. Those were a huge hit. However, I like flavors that aren't quite as sweet. Some of the ones that I really enjoyed were my apple cinnamon cupcakes with mead frosting, saffron cupcakes, and black and white cupcakes.
Better Than Sex cupcake
Which cupcake has been the most unusual and/or challenging?
The most unusual was probably the corned beef and cabbage cupcake. Unfortunately, it was nasty! That's probably not too surprising. However, I did made beer cheese cupcakes with bacon cheddar cream cheese frosting that were fantastic. A good friend of mine has made the recipe several times for parties.
You are doing another cupcake project for another bride and groom; do you have any plans to launch a professional wedding cupcake business?
I'll never say never, but I'm not planning on it. The fun for me is coming up with new kinds of cupcakes all the time. I think if I had to make the same kinds of cupcakes again and again in a bakery, it would cease to be fun.
What advice would you give to those planning weddings in terms of selecting cupcakes – how far in advance should they plan, and what information does the baker need to know from them?
I'm sure this answer would be different from someone who runs a bakery. However, if you are asking a friend to do it, I would give them at least 6 months’ notice. Let them know what types of flavors you like so that they can do some test batches and you can make sure that you are happy. You also need have an idea of how many cupcakes you want. I did 1.5 cupcakes per person, which seemed to work well. Another important thing is how the cupcakes will be displayed. For the first wedding I did, I had a cupcake stand with a single cupcake on the top with a festive topper. Bride and Groom 2.0 are planning to buy a small wedding cake that they are going to put at the top of all of the cupcakes, so I don't need to worry about a topper. Also, you might want to think about what color cupcake liners you would like and be sure to get those ordered in time. One final thing to think about is the temperature at the wedding. If you are planning on having the cupcakes sit out in the sun, that drastically affects what types of frosting your baker can use.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of running Cupcake Project?
My favorite part about it hearing from readers! As for a least favorite part, I wish I could write the blog without having to spend so much time at the computer. Sometimes I wish that I had a more active hobby.
You’ve recently launched Food Interviews, a site featuring interviews with foodie types. How do you select who you’re going to interview? What’s coming up on the site?
I interview people who interest me. When I ask people questions, they are typically things that I am personally really interested in knowing about. This makes it really fun for me and I hope that my readers will find it interesting, too. I do almost all of my interviews on the phone or in person, and I try to really capture their personality along with the subject matter. Coming up I've got interviews about lollipops, hot sauces, California fruit, bento lunches, vegetables, chocolate, food waste, and more. If today's topic doesn't interest you, definitely keep checking back. I try to keep the topics varied. I'm really looking forward to meeting and interviewing all of you when I’m in New York!
Why do you think cupcakes have become so popular?
Cupcakes remind us of our youth. Eating one makes you feel young and carefree.
Cupcakes grilled in oranges
And now for some personal questions...
How often do you eat cupcakes?
Almost every day.
What's the best thing about eating cupcakes?
I like the cake bits stuck to the wrapper at the end.
What's your favorite type of cupcake?
Homemade, from scratch. I get pretty excited about homemade baked goods.
Spice cupcake with candy center
How do cupcakes compare/contrast to other baked goods for you?
Are there other baked goods? Actually, I'm really a sucker for pies and cobblers. I love them hot out of the oven. I also love my mom's brownies and my grandma's golden glow cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting and then there's crème brûlée and bread pudding. OK - I like lots of baked goods!
Is there any innovations you'd like to see made to the cupcake that would improve it for you?
I'd to see edible wrappers.
Do you bake your own cupcakes? Or (even better) have someone who bakes them for you?
I almost never have cupcakes that I don't bake. Some of my favorite store-bought cupcakes are from a St. Louis bakery called Veruca. I've actually never even been in there, but one of my friends brings me cupcakes from there because he thinks I really should eat someone else's cupcakes sometimes. He's right.
What's your first cupcake-related memory?
Nasty Hostess cupcakes being given out at class parties and trying to eat the cake without getting any of the cream filling that I didn't like.
What's the most fun you've ever had with a cupcake?
I have a lot of fun helping my husband stage some of the cupcake photos. My favorite was the cupcake I did for Passover where we set the cupcakes up to cross the Red Sea.
Do you have anything else to add?
Thanks for doing this. It was fun!
Greek bird's nest cupcake