Love and Olive Oil - Eat to Live. Cook to Love.

8 Hours, 300 Cupcakes, Endless Memories.

Before you go calling me certifiably insane, let me explain one thing: I am a stress baker. To-do list getting out of control? I make cinnamon rolls. Feeling anxious over a big deadline? Time to bake cookies. Lots of cookies. It’s how I deal with my stress. (Lucky for us, Taylor is a stress cleaner. So when we both get stressed we end up with blueberry pie and a spotless toilet. Pretty good deal, I’d say!). Anyway, I figured, the day before my wedding, I’m probably going to be pretty darn stressed. Sounds like a perfect time to spend the. entire. day. baking.

To clarify, we baked these babies, all 300+ of them, the day before the wedding. The ovens went on at 8 in the morning, and didn’t turn off until 4:30 that afternoon. I debated back and forth over whether I should do more in advance. Like make all the cupcakes over the course of the week and freeze them. But freshness is far too important to me. I was able to do a few things in advance, like making the strawberry jam for the lemon cupcakes, and cut and shape all the marzipan toppers. But the rest of it, all the batter, baking, frosting and decorating, was done on Friday.

How DID we do it, exactly? I’ve had many people ask me just that. I’ve even heard from a few who are as crazy as I am and planning on baking their own wedding cupcakes, wondering how I dealt with things like storage. So I’m going to share my secrets, or, not so much secrets as things I learned by messing up a few times first. Hopefully you can make the most of my mistakes and experiments, save yourself some time. :)

Lesson #1: Get help. Good help. But not too much help (you know that phrase too many cooks in the kitchen? they mean it). I was lucky enough to have a fabulous team of assistants, without whom, well, I’d probably still be baking. A huge thank you to Mom, Grandma, Aunt Lynn, Uncle Mike, and Auntie Sal for all their help. And everyone else who stopped by periodically throughout the day to perform, ahem, “quality control.” Lucky for them we had a few rejects to give away otherwise they might have been disappointed.

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Lesson #2: Dress appropriately. We had an unfortunate ‘incident’ involving a bit too much pressure built up in the cocoa powder container. And, well… you can guess what happened next.

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Cocoa explosion. Mike proudly wore his chocolately “badge of honor” for the rest of the day.

Lesson #3: Shop in bulk. Have you ever wondered who on earth buys those massive bags of powdered sugar at Costco? Turns out, we do.

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That’s 50 pounds right there. And we used most of it. Plus 8 pounds of butter, 12 pounds of flour, 14 cans of coconut milk, and, well, you get the point. It was quite the mathematical headache to try and figure out just HOW MUCH of everything we were really going to need (thank you 6th grade math!). We only ran out of flour and almond extract, but luckily had plenty of willing volunteers to run into town and replenish our stock throughout the day.

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Lesson #4: Cupcake storage. This was probably our biggest issue of all. I mean, how/where/what do you use to store 300 cupcakes?

Our first dilemma was whether or not the cupcakes should be stored in airtight containers. As it is extremely dry in Colorado (think, like, -10% humidity), we didn’t want the one day layover to completely suck all moisture out of our cupcakes. Anyone who has had a dry cupcake knows why.

However, a quick test solved that problem for us:

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The cupcake on the left was stored in an airtight container. The cupcake on the right was not. While the frosting and cake stayed delectably moist, the unfortunate decoration didn’t fare so well.

On to plan B. We needed something large. Something contained so no dust or critters (or sneaky dads) could break into them during the night. Contained but yet not airtight. We needed something we could stack, and something that would hold the cupcakes securely.

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Bakery boxes turned out to be the perfect solution. We found a handful of sheet cake boxes that came with cupcake inserts, perfect for holding two dozen cupcakes securely in place. Voila! The box was just enough to keep the cupcakes moist, but not airtight so the decorations stayed perky. We filled 15 of these buggers full of cupcakes.

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Another important aspect of this whole thing was the stand. Ever since I decided to bake my own cupcakes for the wedding (meaning, since the day we got engaged), I’d been scouring the net for the perfect cupcake stand. My criteria? Big enough to hold a lot. Simple. Elegant. Sturdy. Affordable. Not too much to ask, right? Apparently it was, as I couldn’t find a single stand that I loved. I found a few good ones, but they cost a few hundred dollars. I found plenty of cheap plastic ones and ones with frilly borders, and even a few flimsy looking cardboard ones. Not even close.

Lucky for me I have a pretty talented Dad. He did, after all, build half our house, so I figured he could handle a cupcake stand.

I purchased some masonite cake boards for each layer in 6 different diameters. Then Dad assembled it – using a single metal pole (or pipe or rebar or something) through the middle of each round, and a 4″ length of white pvc pipe to separate each layer. All affixed to the top of a lazy suzan (look! it spins!). With a fresh coat of white spray paint, and a dainty turquoise ribbon trim around the edges, we had ourselves the perfect cupcake stand. All for less than $60.

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The Cupcake Team

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34 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On July 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I think it’s AMAZING that you did all this! Great job!! They look amazing, and I’m sure they taste amazing too!

    Reply

  2. 2
    Liz Anderson
    Posted On July 18, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    You Dad needs to market that cupcake display masterpiece.

    Colorado and humidity. What would we do with it being this close to the sun? Anything above 30% feels like—-rain!

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On July 18, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I love your blog and I just can’t imagine all the work you did! My mom and grandma made 1,000 meatballs the day before my parents’ wedding…but, that’s nothing compared to CUPCAKES! Have a wonderful wedding day! :)

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On July 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Wow! That was alot of work but they sure are gorgeous!
    Thanks for all the detailed notes on what worked and what didn’t…the colors were the best!

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On July 18, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Wow! Thats amazing! I’m glad it was a fun experience for you all. Congrats! That is a great cake stand, very similar to the one my husband made for me but it looks a lot sturdier! We’ll probably modify mine to make the middle wider for more support…

    Reply

  6. 6
    Andrea Mussman
    Posted On July 18, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Kudos and a pat on the back. Congratulations!;)

    Reply

  7. 7
    Luciana Canaan
    Posted On July 20, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Wow!
    I’m just thrilled with your cake! I really loved it, it’s inspiring!
    I have one big doubt: I dont know if you have it in there, but here in Brazil we have a pretty important moment in Wedding: “The cut of the cake” moment. How do you manage it? :-)
    Congratulations, by the way!

    Reply

  8. 8
    margie/mom
    Posted On July 20, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Lindsay forgot to mention that at 4PM a surprise “Unique Utensil Shower” occurred. Luckily the baking had gone smoothly and only a few more cupcakes needed to be frosted as the guests walked down the hill to surprise Lindsay. The small but unique utensils were opened and Lindsay had to guess the intended use of each, making up her own use when puzzled! The rain, which had continued all day during the baking actually stopped for 2 hours so the shower guests could sit outside on the deck, have appetizers and libations to celebrate the end of a successful bake a thon, and THE END OF THE RAIN, prior to the most perfect sunny wedding day. It was a perfect day!

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On July 20, 2009 at 10:59 am

    You’re my hero! These are just so lovely. What a special memory to add to such a monumental celebration.

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On July 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Gorgeous! They look so lovely!
    Congratulations to you, and everyone who helped you out! You all did a fabulous job!

    Reply

  11. 11
    rachel h
    Posted On July 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    These came out so beautifully – and the photographer did great job as well. I just found this blog looking for ice cream recipes, as I am also in nash your humidity humor hooked me. Well done

    Reply

  12. 12
    Kristen
    Posted On July 20, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    They look wonderful!! Just wondering…how much do you think you saved by making them on your own?

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On July 20, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    As one of the official “tasters”, I must say they were delicious!!!!! I spent most of my time helping the groom fine tune the recipe for 150 grapefruit mojitos, but I had to come into the kitchen just enough to get a few samples. Not only were they delicious, but they were beautiful! Thanks Lindsay for putting on such a terrific wedding.
    Hugs, Sal

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On July 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    WOW! That’s amazing and CRAZY! I think it turned out BEAUTIFUL!

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On July 21, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Kristen -

    Did we save money? Probably. I never actually priced any cupcake cakes or wedding cakes, so I can’t say.

    Overall, our ingredients probably cost $300. With materials for the stand, decorating supplies, etc., maybe total $400? How much does a wedding cake for 150 go for these days?

    Of course that doesn’t take into account the sheer number of man-hours put in to making it all…

    Reply

  16. 16
    Katie
    Posted On July 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Glad to see that the cupcakes went well, but come on, enough about the cupcakes. We’ve been talking about this now for a month!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On July 22, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Wow – that’s a lot of cupcakes! They came out beautifully. I’m very impressed!

    Reply

  18. 18
    sigrid
    Posted On July 24, 2009 at 5:53 am

    What a great post and what an ever greater story! I feel almost like if I wanted to thank your family for the support myselve! :-))) Oh, and… Congratulations!! :-)

    Reply

  19. 19
    Posted On July 26, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    so impressive. congratulations.

    Reply

  20. 20
    Madonna Cramer
    Posted On July 29, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I can’t believe you made all the cupcakes, they are beautiful. The pictures are stunning! Congratulations.

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On August 16, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Wow! The day before my wedding (and the day of), my love and I were rushing through the middle half of the US because our van broke down in Boise on Monday and the wedding was in Ohio on Thursday night…

    Your day-before looks like a far more pleasant way to spend the day.

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On January 9, 2010 at 11:59 am

    You really did an amazing job ! Maybe one day I’ll do the same for my wedding… In the meantime, I think I’m going to make a few cupcake stands (always usefull) !

    Reply

  23. 23
    Ashley
    Posted On February 8, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I know I am doing a cupcake cake for my sister’s baby shower and for 100 cupcakes we got a qoute for $255, so I would say you saved about $400 by doing them your self!

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On April 21, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Hey Lindsay!

    Just wanted to let you know that your recipes were the inspiration for my own cupcake marathon this past weekend! Although…I admit I completely took a shortcut and used box cake mixes as a base. :) (Didn’t think we could do 600 from scratch in one day!)

    So I feel like I now have a glimpse into what this weekend must have been like for you! So much fun, but so much work…I can’t believe this was your wedding weekend, too!! Definitely impressed. :)

    Anyway, just wanted to drop you a note and say thanks for the inspiration! Cheers to cupcakes!!

    ~Ali

    Reply

  25. 25
    Jennifer Christman
    Posted On May 14, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Could you tell me what dimensions you used for your cupcake stand? How many cupcakes did it hold? I love it!!

    Reply

  26. 26
    Posted On January 13, 2012 at 3:51 am

    amazing!
    love your bolg!

    Reply

  27. 27
    Alexandra
    Posted On June 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Where did you find the cute candy hearts for decorating the cupcakes? We’d love to do something similar for an upcoming wedding and I haven’t been able to find blue hearts anywhere.

    Reply

    • Posted On June 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      We actually made them – by rolling out colored marzipan and cutting the heart shapes out of that. Fondant would work too. :) Then you can make it whatever color you want!

  28. 28
    Posted On July 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I’m not sure if you still check this post but I was wondering if you could give any insight on the diameter of the boards and how he managed to get the boards to be separated, nails/glue/ etc. I am making cupcakes for a wedding and would love to make one of these instead of buying one!

    Reply

  29. 29
    Holly
    Posted On June 30, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Where were you able to find masonite cake boards?

    Reply

  30. 30
    Michelle m
    Posted On November 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Wonderful job! Where did you buy the sheet cake boxes from? I like them and I’m a baker that caters for weddings.

    Reply

  31. 31
    Evonda M
    Posted On November 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    U have done a wonderful job. I am getting married next year and I feel that will be a great idea for to make my own cupcakes. That would save us a lot of money and besides, we are on a budget anyway. So u really did it and hope u can add a recipe for just vanilla cupcakes. Thanks and be bless.

    Reply

  32. 32
    Sarah Carroll
    Posted On February 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    So I am coming down to the nuts and bolts for my wedding and I really love your cupcake tower. I just don’t want to try to figure out the diameters of your circles … can you help me out? Thanks so much for a quick response!

    Reply

  33. 33
    Joanne
    Posted On April 2, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Besides the diameters of your boards, I would also like to know approximately how many cupcakes your display held, please?

    Reply

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