Fodder for Failure

A couple of weeks ago I came upon the most gorgeous-looking recipe for Oven-Poached Quince from an equally gorgeous Melbourne-based food blog. I was mesmerised. The blogger sang of the riches of seasonal Autumn produce, the heady aroma of simmering spices and the generous ruby-red reward after hours of slow cooking. I was thrilled to try it. I’d not eaten poached quince before, but as a raving fan of quince paste, jam and jelly – I was delighted by the wonderfully arcadian idea of popping a few oven-poached quince wedges into my porridge each morning. I tracked down fresh quinces at my local organic grocer, almost sliced a(nother) finger off cutting them up, and piled my spices and water and sugar into a cast-iron dish. As the apartment filled with the tantalising scent of anise and cardamom, I started to feel mighty proud of myself.

Six hours later, however, when I lifted the dish from the oven and cracked the lid – my stomach fell with that dreaded ‘this definitely does not look like the picture’ feeling. Instead of plump, ruby-red pieces in a vibrant, juicy syrup – I had a thick, sticky mess highly reminiscent of True Blood -esque vampire remains.

My quince caper was a total failure.

Little Wanderings - April Baking 1

I’ll admit, the whole thing left me feeling very disheartened. For some reason, this didn’t just feel like a stuff-up. It was a failure. There would be no wedges of oven-poached quince in my porridge, and the tentative blog post I was excitedly dreaming up on seasonal foodie adventures was now kaput. I’d spent precious money on fresh fruit and spices, all for nothing. The fact that I’d initially been so thrilled and optimistic now made me feel naive and impostor-like. 

The very next day, I put my apron back on (but very nearly, almost didn’t) to tackle Cupcake Central’s Salted Caramel Cupcakes for the first time as a pre-Easter treat for the Ruby Slipper office. And as I took those cupcakes out of the oven, I felt a little flicker of hope. They looked kinda perfect. I  even took out my camera. Perhaps I’d not lost a blog post after all.

Little Wanderings - April Baking 2

After making up some salted caramel, my spirits were seriously lifting. I love making caramel – oh, that magical moment when the syrup turns amber, that great puff as you pour in the cream! And what fun it was to cut little cores in the cakes to spoon in hidden caramel pockets, before popping the tops back on. These cupcakes would be my saving grace, I thought.

Moments later, I realised my buttercream frosting had split.

I had no time or ingredients to start again. The frosting was useable – but I couldn’t un-see that ever-so-slight separation of the mixture. And so here it was. Another failure. I did the messiest, most frustrated frosting job I’ve ever done, and poured on some extra salted caramel. As I left home that night for dinner with friends, I messaged Mat – “The cupcakes I made look like absolute arse, I was too frustrated to try one properly before I left so you are welcome to try but the icing is just a giant fail. Not winning in the kitchen lately! :(“

A couple of hours later I received his reply.

“What. Are. You. Smoking. That was delicious. So yum. Yum. Yum. Yum.”

The ladies of Ruby Slipper and friends had rather similar thoughts. Despite my continual apologies for the ugly icing, no-one seemed to care – and in fact insisted I was bordering on delusional. It seemed that while I was determined to sell the cupcakes as a total failure, they were actually a hit. To realise as such was an interesting and perhaps even humbling moment.

Baking blunders certainly aren’t the end of the world. I started this blog as a place to share my explorations and wanderings – but to also share the journey of learning and discovery. Labelling something solely as a failure neglects the importance of the learning experience, and tends to rule out the possibility that something good may indeed still come of it. It’s also an awfully serious way of looking at the world, and I know that’s just not my style. In a world of beautiful blogs and carefully constructed Instagram uploads, it’s easy to imagine that botched quince and split buttercream simply don’t exist. Well, turns out they do. And I’m going to stop beating myself up about it.

Cupcake Central: The Best Cupcakes in Melbourne

Cupcake Central make, hands down, my favourite cupcakes in Melbourne. And believe me, I’ve put in a lot of groundwork (read: eaten a lot of cupcakes) in supplement of this statement. I first visited a few months after the initial Hawthorn store opened in 2010, whereupon a friend and I proceeded to try every single cupcake flavour on offer that day. Yes, we were full to near bursting – but in the most gloriously happy way.

Little Wanderings - Cupcake Central 6

Cupcake Central’s cupcakes are fresh, light and fluffy. Kind of like cloudy little pieces of heaven. You’ll find favourites like Salted Caramel, Vanilla Vanilla and Red Velvet on offer every day, plus a batch of exciting seasonal flavours – the current summer menu boasting the likes of Golden Gaytime, Pavlova and Baklava – baked on alternate days throughout the week. The autumn menu will be appearing next week, so you can bet I’ll be keeping a keen eye on Cupcake Central’s Facebook page and Instagram feed for a first look at the new flavours! The weekly baking schedule features on their website, making for easy scheming for cupcake conquering.

Little Wanderings - Cupcake Central 1

It’s Friday, however, when I most anticipate an update from the holy cupcake deity. Fridays are Surprise Flavour Fridays, and feature a one-day-only flavour that’s usually experimental and fantastically decadent. Pictured above is the cupcake that, just this past Friday, quite literally made me leave my house and venture to Melbourne Central for the sole purpose of consuming such a baked beauty. Inspired by the French pastry ‘Paris Brest’, this is a classic vanilla bean cake filled with handmade chocolate custard and topped with a crown of choux pastry, custard and a drizzle of melted chocolate. Um. Yum. Other past creations have included a layered Oreo and Peanut Butter Brownie cupcake, Strawberry Pop-Tart, Caramel Meringue Choc-Top, and Strawberry-Lime Rekorderlig Cider.

Little Wanderings - Cupcake Central 2

It’s been amazing and endearing seeing Cupcake Central grow from that first Hawthorn store. There are now stores in Melbourne Central and Highpoint (wonderfully located for me!) and owners Sheryl and Tin have maintained a really genuine, fun and actually quite inspiring level of integrity in the brand. I had the pleasure of meeting Sheryl way back in 2011 during another all-you-can-eat cupcake adventure, captured most lovingly in the heyday of my video blogging career – take a peek here for some retro Cupcake Central (and some retro Terri!)!

Little Wanderings - Cupcake Central 8

The high quality of product and service across all three stores is also wonderfully consistent. I’ve been particularly impressed with the Melbourne Central and Highpoint stores, which still manage to create a really unique and welcoming space midst the craziness of a busy shopping centre. I can wholeheartedly confirm that the solace of sitting down with a cupcake and coffee during a Highpoint run is a comforting one indeed! These stores also run a variety of cupcake baking and decorating classes – details can be found here.

Little Wanderings - Cupcake Central 5

Cupcake Central is fuelled by passion and innovation, and has flourished well beyond the ‘cupcake craze’. It’s come a long way over the past few years, which makes me very excited to see what’s in store next!

Cupcake Central Hawthorn | Shop 7, 672 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, VIC 3122
Open | Mon – Fri : 7.30am – 6.3opm (full range of cupcakes avail. from 9.00am), Sat – Sun: 10.00am – 5.30pm

Cupcake Central on Urbanspoon

Cupcake Central Melbourne Central | Level 2 Dining Hall, Melbourne Central, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Open | Mon – Thu : 10.00am – 7.00pm, Fri : 10.00am – 9.00pm, Sat – Sun: 10.00am – 6.00pm

Cupcake Central Workshop on Urbanspoon

Cupcake Central Highpoint | Shop 2561, Level 2 Fresh Food Hall, Highpoint Shopping Centre, 100/200 Rosamond Road, Maribyrnong, VIC 3032
Open | Mon – Wed : 9.00am – 5.30pm, Thu : 9.00am – 8.00pm, Fri : 9.00am – 9.00pm, Sat : 9.00am – 6.00pm, Sun: 10.00am – 6.00pm

Cupcake Central on Urbanspoon

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...