Name: Melissa Ward
Location: Philadelphia, PA (metro area)
- How did you get started making cupcakes?
I learned to bake with my Grandma Betty, but I really got into cupcakes about a year ago when I brought in a batch to work on a Friday. A bunch of my work buddies went nuts and said they wanted every Friday to be "Cupcake Friday." So, the blog was born and I began bringing in cupcakes—or other baked goodies—almost every Friday. For 2012, my goal is to not miss a single week, so 52 different cupcake flavors in a year.
- Do you have any formal training?
No, but I have begun a part-time apprenticeship with a local bakery.
- Do you have a signature cupcake or personal favorite?
If you ask my cupcake taste testers, that would be my Salted Caramel Cupcakes. However, I'm a big fan of my Orange Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream ... they're so flavorful!
- What inspired you to start the Cupcake Friday Project?
Aside from the baking aspect, I wanted a blog to keep me accountable and allow taste testers to leave me feedback—good, bad and ugly—about the cupcakes. This way I learn what works and what doesn't.
- How do you come up with the recipes for your projects?
I decide on my flavors first, then I either create a cupcake or frosting off of one of my base recipes OR I surf the web to get ideas from other bakers. I try to be seasonal and tie flavors in to holidays when I can.
- What has been the biggest challenge with the project?
There's been a few: keeping up with the regular writing (I work full-time as a magazine editor and freelance on the side for another publication); staying creative; and not beating myself up too much when a cupcake doesn't work out perfectly. I have to remember that I'm still learning.
- Do you have any goals for expanding the project into a business?
I would love to either have my own cupcake catering business or a full bakery in the next 2-3 years.
- What’s the biggest thing the project has taught you?
To believe in what I'm doing and to keep doing it. This project is my test kitchen, my nano-bakery, and if I keep working my butt off it can become my dream bakery, too.
- What’s your favorite thing about baking?
The first bite someone takes of a cupcake and the smile that lights up on his/her face. I love making people happy.
- Any cupcake horror stories?
Nothing too awful, though early on in the project I ended up with horribly sunken cakes the night before I was bringing them in to work for my taste testers. I had to regroup and try again, which ended up working. I called the first batch Sad'cakes.