Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How to...Make a Cupcake Topiary, Part 1

I mentioned yesterday that I've been in DAR-world, and this is one of the projects that I've been working on.  To be fair, this project isn't close to finished, but I want to start documenting the process now so that I don't forget any of the details.  When it is finished, I'll be sure and link all of the parts together.

So first, let me give you the back story.  DAR members under 36 are called Junior Members.  I think that at some time there may have been some reason for the label, but now there is no difference between Juniors and non-Juniors.  One of the remaining distinctions is the Helen Pouch Memorial Fund--a fund operated by the Juniors (though supported by Juniors and non-Juniors alike) that supports our six DAR schools.  2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the Junior Membership Committee, and the cupcake has been selected as the Junior symbol during this administration (2011-2013). 

In Kentucky DAR, our Junior Club brainstormed the idea of making cupcake topiaries to use as centerpieces at our breakfast during state conference back in March.  One chapter, which has several Juniors, took the lead on researching the idea and created 8 topiaries.  Well, our President General was visiting during our state conference and she LOVED the idea!  The next thing we knew, the National Chairman of the Junior Membership Committee asked if we could make the topiaries for the 2012 Junior Membership Luncheon.  Now, this luncheon is easily the largest event at Congress and this year there were 85 tables, plus the head table.  If you've done the math, that means we're making about 100 topiaries!

The size and scope of this project demands that we streamline the project so that it is as easy to complete by as many people as possible.  Hence, the need to write down every detail in the process.  We're treating the March topiaries as our prototype, and perfecting from there.  Also, you'll notice that this project will be delivered next June/July.  Clearly, we're not talking about edible cupcakes.  Everything in this project is non-edible.

On with the Tutorial!  Step One--make your cupcakes!
You'll need: 
Mini Cupcake Pans
Mini Cupcake liners
Scotch Tape
Expandable foam  (I prefer Great Stuff Big Gap Filler in the black can)
Nail polish remover and cotton balls (for clean up)

1.  Roll little bits of scotch tape and stick a piece in bottom of each well in your mini cupcake pan.  As the foam expands, it will pull your cupcake liner out of the pan, leading to a misshapen blob of foam.  That's bad.  The scotch tape will hold your little cupcakes firmly in place.

2.  Stick a mini cupcake liner firmly into each well, making sure the tape sticks.

3.  Spray just a small amount of expandable foam into each well.  The GS BGF will expand by 50-60%. 

4.  When you've filled all of your wells, set the pans aside and immediately clean up.  I took off the spray nozzle and stuck a nail in the top of the can.  Then, I used a skewer to clear out the nozzle.  Finally, wipe everything down with acetone nail polish remover.  This early cleanup will save you a lot of time when start to make your second batch of cupcakes.

5.  Leave your cupcakes in the pan at least eight hours.  The foam initially sets pretty quickly, but it takes eight hours to set completely.  The pans will help the cupcakes hold their shape while they completely set.

6.  To remove the cupcakes from the pan, lightly grasp the top of each cupcake and twist clockwise, then couter-clockwise to loosen the tape.  If you applied it well, you can't pull the cupcake straight up without applying so much pressure you'll dent the top of your cake.

7.  Marvel at your adorable mini cupcakes!

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