Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cupcakes, Cupcakes

Cupcake Cafe cupcake I'm not sure why everyone seems to be crazy for cupcakes. What in the world is this trend all about? I know its origin: the juxtaposition of the gorgeous icing stylings (see above) of the Cupcake Cafe in Hell's Kitchen versus the deliberate hominess of the Magnolia Bakery in the Village were coupled with a little publicity from Sex and the City and conspired somehow, some way insidiously to infiltrate American pop culture. Suddenly, cupcakes are the guilty pleasure in which to indulge. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE cupcakes and I have a hard time resisting any guilty pleasure (doesn't the guilt just make it so much better somehow?), but I also love regular cakes, and pies, and cookies, and . . . I don't quite understand the chic-ness of cupcake consumption. There's a blog devoted to them, a cupcake delivery service in DC called Le Cupcake (trés imaginative), and even this month's Food & Wine has an article on retro sweets featuring a cross-section of a cupcake that could make a grown woman (or man, of course) weep aloud in front of the bakery window. It's all been percolating for a long time, and I guess I didn't pay too much attention to it because, first of all, I'm not a New Yorker, and secondly, cupcakes for me, as the mother of elementary school children, are strictly the stuff of bake sales and school birthday celebrations. I don't have the time nor the desire to indulge in that kind of nostalgia when I'm so busy creating it for someone (three or four feet tall) else. Magnolia Bakery For me, eating a cupcake is simply a straightforward pleasure--not a fetishized baby boomer blast from the past. I grew up, and now I bake my own cupcakes and give them to my kids; it's not necessary for me, myself, to be the kid anymore. I tried the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes and was a little disappointed (who wouldn't be after all that hype?) with them. They were dry, and the icing was teeth-achingly sweet, so chock full of confectioners sugar that there seemed just the merest hint of butter binding all that cloying sugar together. The Cupcake Cafe was much more impressive although, I must confess, their cupcakes were also a little dry. Nevertheless, the amazing and not too sweet butter (LOTS of butter) cream icing and the spectacular flowers topping these cupcakes absolutely saved them. I did want the perfect cupcake however, and I considered the fact that the cupcakes I make are usually a little dry as well. Baking time, it seems, is everything--even the professionals can't quite get it right. Buttercream can go a long way, but ultimately, a slice of a big, moist, regular-sized cake is the only thing that truly satisfies that cake-y craving with which some of us are periodically tortured. technorati tags: , , ,


Blogger Rachel said...

Magnolia sucks! We love Two Little Red Hens in Park Slope and Manhattan.

October 11, 2005 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Agreed that Magnolia is sorely disappointing. Try Two Red Hens or Sugar Sweet Sunshine for real satisfaction.

October 12, 2005 1:12 AM  

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