Monday, October 24, 2011

Let Me Call You Cupcake

I've been putting in a lot of hours at the computer lately, and talking about things I've learned as I work on the draft of my novel in this blog. Tonight, I want to talk about something sweet and fluffy: cupcakes.

Last year, my younger son was obsessed with baking shows on TV. Cake Boss was probably our favorite, but we also watched Ace of Cakes, Ultimate Cake-off, and, finally, Cupcake Wars. We learned decorating terms like fondant, isomalt,and modeling chocolate, and that you can create just about anything out of crisped rice treats. One of my favorite blogs is Cake Wrecks.

I like cupcakes. I grew up at a time when you only got cupcakes when someone had a birthday and their mom was extra nice and made something for the class. Not all moms did this when I was growing up, as opposed to now when every birthday comes complete with cupcakes for the class. So cupcakes are still something special to me.

Living in a large metropolitan area means I've gotten to benefit from the cupcake shop trend, and there are a few in San Francisco I like to visit.

My favorite is Teacake in Burlingame. Of all the shops I've been to, Teacake has the best combination of cake and frosting in terms of mouth feel and taste. Their flavors are a little limited - vanilla and chocolate with vanilla and chocolate buttercream and one or two special flavors each day. October has been great because they've featured a pumpkin cupcake and an apple crumb cupcake, both with cream cheese buttercream frosting. My spouse all likes Teacake because they do frosting shots of any flavor frosting you'd like. It's $1.00 and you get a generous amount of frosting served in the holder for a mini-cupcake. Kind of a sweet deal for someone who likes frosting a lot more than cake. And their frosting is really good. Not too sweet, not too heavy on the butter side of buttercream.

My next favorite is Cups and Cakes Bakery in San Francisco. These photos don't do justice to their amazing cupcakes, but pictured here are Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Pancake Breakfast. Their flavors are outrageous. Fauxstess, Boston Cream Pie, Rainbow Bright, Peanut Butter Cup, Rootbeer Float, need I go on? One thing I really love about Cups and Cakes is that almost all their featured flavors are available each day in regular and mini (not all flavors are available every day, but you can do special and custom orders. A friend of mine spied an order of Blue Velvet going out the door one time when she was there, and that's not a flavor they have on their menu). If there's one fault with these cupcakes, it's that the frosting is a bit on the sweet side. Still...I love the hot pink storefront and the fact that there's always parking on the street where they live.

Last up is Cako Bakery in Japantown. Cako's has some pretty awesome flavors. That's my younger son's favorite pictured - S'mores with toasted marshmallow frosting and graham cracker base. They also have a Blueberry Cheesecake, Cookies and Cream, Pink Lemonade, and 24 Karat, along with the more traditional flavors. My one complaint with Cako's is that their frosting is often too heavy on the butter side of buttercream leaving me with a mouthful of lightly flavored grease. This is especially true if you order one of the more traditional flavors where the cake isn't as sweet. With Cookies and Cream or some of their more exotic flavors, the cake is sweeter and makes up for the lack of sugar in the frosting. Still...the cake itself is probably the best of the three, and the extras like crushed cookies or graham crackers layered under the cake is phenomenal.

I've yet to hit a couple of the other Bay Area staples for cupcakes: Kara's Cupcakes and Susie Cakes, but I'm sure I'll get to them eventually.

And now, back to the novel...

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