Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Perfectionist

I would definitely consider myself a perfectionist. However, a very different brand of perfectionist. I'll call it...Artistic Perfectionism. I just made that up, but it sounds appropriate. There is a common misconception that perfectionists must have everything perfect at all times. Not artists. Or at least...not me. I don't want to pull all artists down into my weirdness.

I'm not OCD, I don't measure when I paint or draw, and I never care if I'm out of an ingredient I need for a recipe. But, I never give up on anything. I won't get mad if my painting is off center, I'll just make it something different. And I'll improvise when cooking, like the time I made BBQ chicken and had no BBQ sauce in the house. Which brings me to yesterday: baking cupcakes for my girl Vanessa's birthday.
There were only 4 of us going to dinner, so who needs two dozen cupcakes? I thought - simple! I'll cut the recipe! And make giant fun cupcakes, like I do with muffins.

FYI - this does not work with pound cake. Pound cake evidently does not want to puff up, but spill over. However, the artistic perfectionism kicked right in, and rather than frustration, I screamed, laughed, and forged ahead.

To start, I trimmed. I trimmed and hacked and cut away at the tops of those little cakes until they vaguely resembled regular cupcakes. The extra pound cake made the baby smile. You are welcome, baby. All in the name of the arts.

But then, the came out all lopsided and mangled when I took them out. Another roadblock. So I whipped out my seemingly frivolous, absolutely adorable, when would you ever really use these, favorite little silicone cupcake trays. I highly recommend the investment. Or better yet, have a friend who will get them for you due to your love for daisies, like I did!

Now they are starting to look presentable! And to think how many people would have slammed that cupcake tin down and called it a day as soon as they saw that pool of pound cake.

Another little tip - a little homemade icing usually solves everything. Ask the girls if they noticed their lopsided mangled pound cakes last night - I bet not, due to the distraction of the sugary goodness of homemade icing. Nifty little diversion I created.

But then of course I said, "Ignore the crazy lopsided cakes. I had a baking mishap." Because I can't keep anything to myself.

Then came the decorating. The funnest part. Grabbing random sprinkles/ sugars/ Easter candy from the candy dish and making every single one different. Making every single one different is key with making magical cupcakes. You know, the ones that seem to cast a spell on you...that even when you're not hungry, you can't help but try one. Maybe that's just me? Cupcakes are kind of a weakness. That, and lattes and ice cream and wine. Evidently, I'm pretty weak.

Notice the flat iced one in the back - after piping the icing on all of them, I dropped the icing bag into that guy. And had no icing left to touch it up. So I smoothed it over and made it look intentional. Ahem. I meant to do that.

So the moral of the story - perfectionists are never perfect. No one is. Not even Martha Stewart's kitchen is always that clean (sorry Martha, but you know it's true). The trick is letting things roll of your back, and improvising. Never give up and settle for a failure - just tweak it a little until it makes you smile. And don't expect too much of yourself. I mean, I'm so much prouder of these cupcakes knowing they started out as a disaster, than I would have been if they were picture perfect throughout.

So just know, that my baby girl's finger nails will always be painted, but that doesn't mean they aren't dirty underneath. If she's like her mama, they will be. (Don't worry, I washed my hands before baking these cakes.) And Reggie's hair will always be combed, but those knees will definitely be scuffed and bruised. That's the way we like it in our family. Beautifully imperfect.

1 comment:

  1. Love it Kate! Your comments are interesting to read, of course I am partial to cup cakes and frosting talk! They turned out geat and "fun".