A man with a plan: Alexandria Cupcake owner Adnan Hamidi’s outline for the cupcake cover shot. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

That’s what we were after, for this week’s pre-Valentine’s Day Food cover.

A flag motif seemed appropriate. Art directors and a features photo editor agreed that real cupcakes would look better than an illustrator’s handiwork in Photoshop.

It took one phone call to Adnan Hamidi to make it happen.

With a background in art and graphic design, the owner of Alexandria Cupcake said the commission was right up his alley.

Alexandria Cupcake owner Adnan Hamidi and one of his bakers, Laura Miller, frosted cupcakes just before photos were taken at The Post. The field of blue mini-cupcakes carried the right amount of stars. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

“The main thing I wanted to do was to make sure everything was proportionate — the right amount of stripes and stars — in the space of a 3-by-5-foot flag,” he says.

Art director Marty Barrick, top, and layout editor Alla Dreyvitser, right, do The Wave. ( Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post )

Tinting the mini-cupcakes was as easy as combining royal blue and sky blue colors, Hamidi says. He thinks he reached for the Wilton’s brands.

All told, it probably took five to six hours of baking, transporting and setup. Hamidi and Miller brought unfrosted cupcakes to The Post photo studio; watching them pipe and swirl evenly on the laid-out cupcakes was impressive.

After photographer Deb Lindsey was done with Round One, art director Marty Barrick and layout editor Alla Dreyvitser grabbed a few chopsticks and started The Wave, which you can see pictured below.

We almost went with The Wave. Do you like it better? (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)