…and it was ok. Just ok.
The event was a little anticlimactic for me, with the flurry of crazy that came with its approach: tons of random emails, my husband being signed up as a baker when he was just trying to attend with me, the original venue canceling, and half of the 30-some bakers bailing out during the last week. Still, like a domestic warrior I trudged on and baked 29 cupcakes on Friday night, 24 of which were presentable enough to take to Cupcake Camp. On Saturday I lovingly decorated them, packed them in my massive cupcake carrier, and we headed to Funxion on F Street. Now, Funxion was a fairly interesting back-up venue — light up gel counter tops that you can write on, an entirely black-lit bathroom that made me feel dizzy in the middle of the day, and a bottled water bar featuring, oh…I don’t know…maybe 30 kinds of bottled water. The crazy thing was that this particular restaurant prides itself on being super healthy and as such uses no (NO!) butter, oil, sugar or salt in the food. I know, right? To be fair, I can’t say we had any of the food or the $3 bottled water (we brought some Potbelly over to the outside tables) but the idea of fatless, saltless burgers and pizza were fairly unappealing to both of us. I really would have enjoyed some of that $12, 150-calorie food during college though, but now mama’s gotta chase after a toddler and that requires caloric energy.
Anyway…the way Cupcake Camp worked was pretty simple. There were eight rounds of judging upstairs, and while the judges were evalu-chomping there were TONS of cupcakes being circulated to the crowd downstairs. One of the best things about sitting outside was that my husband and I would hear the first thing that people said when they exited, each having four half eaten cupcakes in hand. This is where we heard the crowd referred to as a Cupcake Moshpit more than once. It was really that overwhelming.
I did happen to walk inside to fetch a cupcake while mine (chocolate espresso cake/cinnamon cream cheese icing/espresso bean garnish) were being passed around. That was awesome, to stealthily monitor people trying my cupcakes. I heard five or six people say things varying from “nom nom mmm nom” to “this is really good!” I also heard two people say something to the effect of “too much icing.” So that was my feedback for the day. That, and seeing two dozen of my mangled cupcakes sitting on tables throughout the restaurant.
In terms of cupcake availability, you really could grab anything you wanted to. The thing is, when it came time to eat the cupcakes neither of us really wanted to just dive into dozens of mystery cakes that a potentially nose-picking, salmonella infested person baked. I mean, what if they were undercooked? Or gross? In the end, my husband probably had a bite of five cupcakes and I had two bites of six or seven. None of them knocked my socks off, and I detected some box mixes.
So we waited. And waited. And read the saltless, fatless, sugarless menu a few more times. We fed the meter and put my cupcake carrier in the trunk, then it was time for the raffle and winner announcements. The highlights of my afternoon were winning a t-shirt and learning that the first prize winner made a fruit-chocolate combination, which validated my dismissal of this event as insignificant because I hate fruit and chocolate. That said, I’m sure it was objectively good; I know that the third place winner – a strawberry cupcake – was really interesting, kind of tasting like a cornbread muffin with a strawberry butter.
If there’s a Cupcake Camp 2011 I will probably go. I don’t know why but I probably will. And I will not use less icing.