There are times in life when you find yourself in expected situations. Situations that, based on your passions, life experiences and/or obligations, you had a feeling would happen at some point down the road. Maybe you’re married — you have kids. Maybe you’re an actor — you get cast in a play. Maybe you’re a writer — you get published.
For me, this was not one of those times.
Sure, I love baking, and I can craft a decoration or two if I set my mind to it. But never in a million years did I expect myself to be the baker of 11 dozen cookies for a family friend’s wedding. Fire truck cookies, to be exact. Decorated fire truck cookies, to be exactly exact. But there I was last week, hunched over a long table of fresh-baked sugar cookies, hands covered in red food coloring and royal icing as I painstakingly outlined and flooded, wrote “I Do” and frosted on more than 130 yellow ladders on a bunch of cookies that would soon become wedding favors for a bride and her groom, a fireman. Pounds of dough and icing and 48 hours later, they were done, packaged, sent off and soon-to-be devoured.
This is that story. (DUN DUN) (I’m such a nerd.)
Real talk: I’d never been hired before to bake anything. Usually friends and family would commission me to make something for a party or because they asked really nicely or because my freezer was overflowing and I need to get rid of stuff. So when I was asked to take on this venture, I was kinda nervous. OK, really nervous. Like, had-a-few-nightmares-that-I-had-a-nervous-breakdown-in-a-pile-of-ruined-fire-truck-cookies nervous. But my mouth said, “Sure!” before my brain said, “Whooooaaaa….what?” and I signed on to bake a boatload of cookies as wedding favors for more than 100 guests. Gulp.
But as I’m (almost) always up for a challenge, I went for it. I found this ah-maz-ing recipe for sugar cookies (that I will most definitely keep on hand for the Christmas cookie baking season) and did crazy amounts of research on how to make and decorate with royal icing (see above, never done this before), and I got to work.
See that? That’s 13 1/2 cups of flour, 4 1/2 eggs, 4 1/2 cups of sugar and some other ingredients that would be added to the mix. It was INSANE. I felt like a Keebler elf using giant human-sized bowls and utensils to churn cookies out of my treehouse. (Also, pardon the terrible lighting of some of these photos. The timing of this process is not friendly to the food blogger.)
BUTTER. There’s nothing more to say here.
See this bucket? Yes, I said bucket. I stirred up the dough in, like, a 10-gallon bucket. See above, situations in which I’d never expected to be.
The next morning, I lugged four Ziploc bags full of refrigerated dough to my parents’ house (they have two ovens, you see. Preparedness.) and got to baking. And baking…
Four or five (I lost count at this point. Along with my marbles.) hours later, we had this situation going on (that’s my mama over there on the right. Hi, Mom! Thanks for helping).
This was also about the point at which I started to transform into the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Note my scrunched, “I’m going to smile for this picture but my back is dying a slow, painful death” face. Also, my piping contraption looks like a giant syringe. Details.
This is my mom, doing a dang good job of flooding the cookies. This is also after I had a minor panic attack that the red royal icing was turning brown and would taste bitter because I’m paranoid (FYI, it did not).
Again, Hunchback. Looking back on it, I really could have just pulled up a chair but, you know, that would make too much sense.
So, um, you see how the lighting has changed? That’s because by this point, it was almost 10:30 p.m. I was full-blown delirious at this point, thanks to a can of Diet Coke and the task of writing 130 “I Do”s on miniature fire trucks. My husband did me the service of not photographing my bouts of whining slash laughing to tears at nothing. #funtimes
Thankfully I was done with the whole shebang by 11:30 p.m. So I went home, zonked out for a few hours and when I woke up and went back to my parents’ house to check on the cookies…
They looked fantastic. Like, I was seriously proud of myself. I was also exhausted, my thumb was numb from pushing on the syringe piping thingy for 11+ hours the day before and I was slowly cranking back upright out of my Hunchback state, BUT — it was complete.
And you know what? Even though it was a ton of work, and I now have a million bazillion times more respect for those crazy bakers on Cupcake Wars and Ace of Cakes (and all the real-life people who do these kinds of things on a daily basis, obviously)… it was so much fun. I am now a pro fire truck wedding cookie decorator. I’ve discovered my niche.
Thanks to Amanda and Ryan for having me contribute to your special day! I’m going to go take a nap now.
P.S. Below are some seriously helpful links that guided me through the process, should you decide you want to take on something like this, too.
P.P.S. I totally just now realized today marks my third (!!!) year blog anniversary. Another excellent adventure.