The past few days have been bliss. I’ve done just about everything that slaps a smile on my face and I’ve eaten just about everything that…well, I’ve just eaten everything. Two full summer days outside- picnicking on patios, strolling tree-lined streets, sitting in lawn chairs outside my lovely little neighborhood coffee shop (which is infinitely more lovely because of said lawn chairs), explored farmers markets and Pike Place (a Seattle landmark), sang “California Gurls” one too many times for my neighbor’s comfort, painted my toes a splashy fuschia, and took not one, but two, day trips to the beach. And by beach I mean Target. Close.
Here is a photo journey through Pike Place, a sprawling indoor/outdoor market here in Seattle. Famous for the farmers’ stands full of local produce, the trinket carts, the fresh seafood, butchers, bakeries, handmade cheeses , and most importantly, the place where David from Real World Seattle got a job throwing fish. Guaranteed that’s their store’s tagline.
I even paid homage to my fifteen year old self: Loitering outside public establishments.
If those activities weren’t enough to feed my body and soul, this one surely did. Cupcake tasting. You see, I’ve been propositioned to test the cupcakes at each of the top ten bakeries in Seattle. Who propositioned me? Jesus.
Never one to turn down an offer, this weekend involved two different bakeries’ crumbly frosted cakes. The first: Wink Cupcakes in upper Queen Anne. A ten on the precious spectrum- the decor very pink, cutesy, and clean.
I applaud them for the creative specials, but for testing purposes, I need to try the classics: Chocolate with chocolate frosting, vanilla with vanilla frosting, and red velvet with cream cheese frosting.
Adorable, right? Here’s the unfortunate news: They weren’t very good. Let’s start with the vanilla: I appreciated the apparent custard flavor, but couldn’t get passed the dry, overbaked texture. The buttercream had a light, whipped texture but lacked the proper amount of sugar. Too heavy on the unsalted butter flavor and without the requisite sweetness.
The chocolate was similarly dry, but the strong kick of coffee flavor helped to bring out the richness of the cocoa. The frosting tasted of mocha- a coffee/chocolate blend which complimented the cake nicely, but again lacked enough sugar. Nothing is worse than a slick of unsalted butter left on your tongue. Toss some sugar down your gullet when that happens.
The red velvet was the best in terms of cake moisture and flavor. The tenderest of crumbs. But the cream cheese frosting was a little too tangy. Not in that “cream cheese frosting is deliciously tangy- I’d like to take a bath in it” sort of way. More of a “we added a little too much lemon juice and ran out of powdered sugar.” The whole little red number was just okay.
Wink’s overall review: Cute, but not worth your taste buds’ time.
Next stop on the cupcake tasting tour? Cupcake Royale.
Interesting information, and while I do like to see that something is local, organic, or sustainable, for tasting purposes, I disregard all prior information. Taste is the test.
The first cupcake I tried: Chocolate with Chocolate frosting. Moist, tender-crumbed, and fabulously fudgy. Outrageously chocolatey, especially in combination with the dark chocolate butter icing. Like a whipped ganache almost. I’d call this cupcake a chocolate lover’s dream. Rich, velvetty, and luscious.
On to the vanilla. This fair-hued confection was light, moist, and almost angelic in it’s delicate crumb. The cake itself had a faint vanilla bean flavor and was beautifully balanced by the buttercream. Sweet, creamy, and rich. Thick enough to have some heft to it. Whipped frostings can be nice, but they’re not quite right for lots of cake varieties. You want something with more body. This was perfect in that way.
Cupcake Royale’s overall review: Very good. I’d recommend these tiny cakes to everyone.
Two cupcake bakeries tested, eight more to go.
And with that, the weekend was over. Forty eight hours came and went, and here I sit now, coffee in hand, wondering if Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford is open at 7:30am. Even if it is, I would never eat one this early. I wait ’til at least 9am for dessert.