11 January 2010
What Goes Up Must Come Down
And what goes in must come out. (Okay people, hear me out here. I am not talking about bodily functions. It's a little early here in Paris for that. Though guess it does hold true when talking about cupcakes!) Here goes.....Many, many years ago (in fact it feels like another lifetime ago), I worked in advertising as an Account Planner. There's all sorts of names that go along with this role that have do with strategy, research, marketing, etc. Ask 50 different people what an Account Planner does and you will get 50 different responses. For me it's as simple as this: behind every ad, there is a piece of paper that guides the creative team creating the ad. That piece of paper tells them what the consumer should think, feel and do after viewing the ad. The job of the Account Planner is to write what's on that piece of paper.
One of the tools at the disposal of the Account Planner is Market Research. And I can tell you I spent a good many afternoons sitting at my desk writing surveys and analyzing them. We had an expression we used when drafting questionnaires: GIGO. Which stands for "Garbage In Garbage Out." It's a lesson I learned early on in my career and I now carry this motto with me into my kitchen every day as a cupcake baker.
It's a simple fact of life. When you create something, your end product is only going to be as good as the raw materials you put into it. And this is especially true when you are preparing food. Someone asked me recently if I could make organic cupcakes. Well, honey I already do. In fact, all of my cupcakes are made using primarily organic, and the best quality ingredients I can find. I go through a lot of eggs every week and believe me, I am not interested in supporting a practice of keeping chickens cooped up in cages, squashed one on top of the other, deprived of sunlight, and an opportunity to roam free and stretch their wings when they feel like it. As a mother of two young kids, I feel more assured in my choices of organic milk, flour, etc. While I know that not all non-organic foodstuff is treated with pesticides, or milk-producing cows with antibiotics, the "bio/organic" label for me ensures that the ingredients I am buying are produced under optimal conditions and have met more stringent standards.
I am also frequently asked where I buy all of my decorations. Buy them?!? I make them! And yes, that means I make my own gumpaste, fondant and marzipan too that is used to craft my toppers - everything is made from scratch by me ensuring that I know exactly what goes into every cupcake I create. (Trust me, these aint those pre-fab rice paper daisies you can buy at baking supply stores >>>) It also guarantees that every component of my cupcakes have met my taste standards. Sure lots of people can make pretty cupcakes but the real challenge is making cupcakes that look good and taste good too. And that is what I strive for in every cupcake I make. I also think it's what makes my cupcakes uniquely my own.
So next time you taste an inferior baked good at your local cupcake store, diner, whatever remember "Garbage In Garbage Out." What goes in must come out!