By way of cake, a lot of my loves and obsessions end up making their way onto the blog. One that has yet to much such an appearance is my fierce love of football. And by football I mean Australian Rules Football, the only real football. Just ask any Melbournite. I’ve always been a fanatical Carlton supporter and am now also a Carlton member. I’m not sure where my love of the Navy Blues came from, as no one in my immediate family follows them. My dad’s a rabid Essendon supporter who tried but failed to get me on side, and most everyone else was just apathetic. I don’t remember ever making a decisions to follow them, it was always just the natural conclusion. When I got older and saw my birth certificate for the first time I discovered I even get to utter the ‘born and bred’ saying with extra gusto as I was actually born in Carlton, so perhaps it’s always been innate. AFL is my religion, and Carlton Football Club are my Gods.
It’s September and September here means footy finals fever in Melbourne. It’s been a pretty exciting finals series thus far. Even so for my team. We’ve been fairly average and frustratingly inconsistent all year. We’ll have quarters where we look as though no team in the contest would stand a chance against us, then follow it up with a quarter that brings us completely undone. We won and lost by small margins, and wins and losses were often a matter of a few seconds or a few centimeters difference. We were set to just miss the finals this year, but when a drug cheating scandal saw our historic rivals Essendon scrapped from the finals this year, we got a second chance.
What followed was a Qualifying Final I’ll never forget. We faced another of our Victorian rivals, Richmond, a team we’d beaten just three weeks prior. 95,000 people packed into the stadium to watch the clash. I was fortunate enough to be right in the thick of it in the cheer squad bay. During the season the bays are often a mix of different supporters, but during the finals they allocate different bays to different clubs. Sitting amidst the thick of the action, surrounded by Carlton faithful in a record-breaking crowd was exhilarating. The come from behind victory we staged even more so. It was a moment I’ll never forget, and one I am still euphorically drunk off of. That one game made up for any rough moment we’d had throughout the year. The fact that we’d replaced Essendon in the finals, beaten another rival in Richmond, and in doing so finished above our fiercest historic rival, Collingwood, on the ladder was just the icing on the cake. The perfect trifecta I’d never have dreamed of. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces.
The next final was to be played against Sydney, in Sydney. Following my team interstate has always been beyond me, so we decided to head down to our home ground to watch the game on the big screen with the rest of the Carlton faithful who couldn’t travel. Picnic blankets on the grass to watch the footy called for something to celebrate: cupcakes.
I’ve never been so excited for a game I was fairly sure we were going to lose. Returning to Princes Park, our original home ground, is always a cause for celebration. Almost a decade ago, financial difficulties meant we had to relinquish this ground as our official home ground. It closed permanently for all AFL matches, something I never quite got over. But it’s still the heart of Carlton. We still train here and the innards are still Navy Blue all over. Growing up, we always moved around a lot so I’ve never had anywhere I associated with home. But Princes Park is my one place that feels like home. It’s a mere few blocks away from my University where I’ve studied and now work. It’s where I feel a real sense of belonging.
We walked to the other end of the ground and grabbed a spot on the grass amongst the rest of the supporters, not hoping for a win, just hoping for a decent shot at it. And hoping the Melbourne sky didn’t open up and shower us with rain as it had been threatening to do all day. The rain held off, but victory, predictably, wasn’t ours. I wasn’t as devastated as I usually am after a loss. Maybe because we were fortunate to get as far as we did. Maybe because I knew whoever won was going to get smashed by Fremantle in the next final match. Maybe I was still partially euphorically happy drunk from the previous week.
Or maybe it’s just hard to be upset with cupcakes around.
I made chocolate cupcakes using my favourite recipe, accompanied with something I tried once for the first time and have fallen in love with: whipped chocolate ganache. All the pipe-ability of buttercream without all that butter and sugar. Yes please.
For the toppers I made super thin fondant discs and piped the decorations from white chocolate. Of course the first thing I had to include was out logo.
On some of them I piped the #6 in AFL font in celebration of Kade Simpson’s 200th game that match. Simmo is my favourite player at Carlton (and not just because he acknowledged me during a goal celebration back in 2006, I swear… okay maybe a little bit). He’s a pivotal player, a courageous player and one of the best players at the club. He’s completely underrated at a competition-wise level and certainly doesn’t get all the praises he deserves, but he’s absolutely invaluable at Carlton. He had the record for the most consecutive games at the club (158) and was looking to on track to break the AFL record until he was cleaned up by an illegal bump from a Collingwood player that broke his jaw last year. Since he returned from injury he hasn’t missed a game and quickly notched up the 200 games. I was probably more excited about Kade’s milestone than being in the finals!
And last of all, a third of the cupcakes got the #BELIEVE hastag that was used as the official hashtag by the club during the finals series.
The toppers all sat atop a swirl of the whipped chocolate ganache.
This cupcake recipe produces the most amazing, moist, chocolatey cupcakes. It’s also ridiculously simple, so it’s my go-to whenever I don’t feel like putting in a lot of effort.
I’m gonna post a general tutorial on how to make simple chocolate transfers for decoration soon, so meantime here’s the cupcake recipe. This makes about 12 standard cupcakes.
|Moist Chocolate Cupcakes
|1 1/4 (190g) cups plain flour
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (250ml) milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence
150g dark chocolate, chopped
For the ganache,