Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge

by on Jan.06, 2011, under Uncategorized

Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge! Objective: to mail a cupcake to another hackerspace in pristine condition. Cupcake must travel at least 1600 km. We are participating! Practice session number one at hacklab was a success, free cupcakes available! We’re gonna send to Noisebridge, and also to at least one Canadian hackerspace, such as VHS in Vancouver, ENTS in Edmonton or Protospace in Calgary. Join us and enjoy more awesome hackcakes!

3 Comments for this entry

  • Rod

    My wife sent some cupcakes to Calgary in the fall.
    If you are allowed to insert a toothpick into the bottom of it it is fairly easy.

  • Rod

    oops, apparently she didn’t use a toothpick.
    Rather she used an inverted paper cup. …sounds more challenging than I thought after talking to her about cupcake shipping challenges.

  • Daniel Broome

    We once sent a wedding cake to from Toronto to Tennessee for a cousins wedding. I did some research before sending it and found that the most cake decorators will 1) try to limit the distance that they transport their cakes, 2) use liberal quantities of dry ice to keep everything cool and 3) assemble the cake at the final location.

    In our case, as in yours, none of these options was available. TN is a big pace and moving it to Toronto wouldn’t have worked the distance was fixed and significant. We couldn’t use dry ice as the cake was traveling by car and we couldn’t afford to risk suffocating said cakes fellow passengers. And lastly we couldn’t be there for the final assembly as my wife was fit to burst with our second child. The presentation was handed off to my in-laws with very robust instructions.

    However, the ‘science’ behind each of these methods remains useful. 1) Keep it cool – the purpose of keeping the cake, and icing, cool is to maintain good food hygiene but (and let’s face it more importantly) because icing is a fluid and travels more slowly at low temperatures, your options may be to play with the temperature equation. Raise the melting point of the icing (shortening rather than butter or eliminate that fat altogether and opt for a royal icing) maybe even play with the pressure inside the delivery container. 2) Shorten the journey. This might not mean selecting the closes target but picking one that will have a direct flight and the least handling at either end. Consider dropping the cake off at the shipping depot rather than having it collected at your location. 3) Send the cake and icing separately or design a package that could dispense the icing (perfectly) onto the cake as the package is opened. This last option could be a lot of fun

    Another lesson that could be stolen from the wedding cake artists could be that cake isn’t always cake! Cakes come in one of two varieties, wholly edible or purely decorative. The edible variety range from batter based sponge cake, through traditional fruit cake, to beautifully iced rice crispy and marshmallow treats while polystyrene blocks support the visually attractive though less appealing inedible creations. Rice crispy treats and polystyrene blocks can be attached to Masonite or card boards (drywall screws recommended) and shipped without too much worry. Real cake requires a little more ingenuity. Individual layers are attached to boards with skewers (not particular stable). You can play with the cake though. A hybrid cake with a firm core or rice crispy base attached to a board would reduce, or eliminate, the need for lateral supports as it could be adequately secured from below.

    Use a firm cake batter, a pound cake will stand up well to quite a lot of movement and shock. Carrot cake makes a good cupcake with a cream-cheese icing that can be mixed with a high sugar content to make it very stiff. Whatever cake you opt for increase the sugar to fats ratio in the icing to make it stiffer – it’s cheating but no one said you couldn’t.

    I would also suggest taking advantage of the weather. Learn what you can about the possible travel/flight paths, pack it cold and send it to somewhere colder. I didn’t see any extra points in the requirements for sending it somewhere hot.

    On the subject of cakes that don’t always travel well check out the podcast at http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/vc-november-13th-2010-dave/id263177347?i=88964444 skip ahead to 29 minutes and 50 seconds. Enjoy and good luck.

    Daniel Broome

    Planning on attending the unpatched Tuesday event tomorrow night – see you there.

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