Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cup Cake Upset

My sister Libby is visiting from Freiburg,Germany, where she has lived for nearly 4 years. While she grew up with me just north of the city, and spend her college years at the University of Washington here in Seattle, she has been gone long enough that Seattle has new and exciting experiences waiting for her on each return.

My talk of a new cup-cakerie in Ballard promised to be exciting. I mean, a shop dedicated to cupcakes, how could you go wrong?

When we approached the case full of cupcakes, Libby experienced the same series of thoughts I did on my first visit. Upon seeing the bleak selection, 3 flavors of cup cake, all identically frosted with 5 different color coordinated flavored frostings, she experienced the first let down.

"That's it?" she thought. "Well, they must taste REALLY good then"

So we ordered our 2 dollar treats, she a yellow cake with chocolate frosting, I a chocolate cake with lavender frosting, and 2 lemon cakes with lemon frosting to go for a friend at home with a new baby.

It was a pleasant day, so we sat outside to watch the foot traffic on Market Street and nibble our cupcakes. Upon first taste she experienced the second let down.

"That's it?" she said, with disappointment in her eyes. The same disappointment I experienced on my first visit. "It no better than the cup cakes mom makes at home. From a box!"

It's not that the cupcakes are bad, per se. They are ok. Nothing brilliant. The big let down comes after loosing the hope that a shop dedicated to cup cake fills you with. We both had visions of a vast array of cupcakes in interesting flavors, colors, filled, dunked, or perhaps covered in tasty bits. Much like the cupcakes on the blog Cup Cake Bake Shop. Unfortunately the variety this shop offers is bleak, somewhat bland cake with sugary sweet frosting that only tastes mildly of the flavor each pastel color promises.

Her dissapointment led to anger, and as we left our cupcakes, she made the same promise I did on my first visit, "I would never go back there." And she probably wouldn't. But I have found myself back a few times now, with a place in my heart where I can enjoy this plain cup cake. As I enter the door and take my place in the long line, I am a little wiser, and I know what to expect. I no longer hope for more when I think of this little shop. Instead, I enjoy my cup cake deemed "good enough" and fill my head with lofty dreams of the cupcakes I would put in my own shop.


Blogger Rebecca said...

I so agree with you! If you are going to say you are a cupcake shop, I expect a bunch of different flavor offerings and then I want them to taste better than what I can make at home. Instead I'm left thinking that I am the cupcake queen and they are not.

May 04, 2006 12:50 PM  
Blogger Chef said...

you are right on with this post. Those cupcakes are just okay. Cute, not horrible. The icing is teeth-chatteringly sweet. Still, like you, I've been 2-3 times. Until something better comes along... (hint, hint) I'll still line up from time to time.

May 04, 2006 5:11 PM  
Blogger Mouser said...

My dissapointment did not just turn to anger, it turned to personal outrage!! How dare they call themselves Cupcake Royale! It's more like Cupcake Catastrophe. I was really impressed with the idea of a shop dedicated to cupcakes. It's an idea so filled with potential! Someone please save us from these bland sugar bombs, and then open a chain in Freiburg ;-).

May 04, 2006 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Laurie said...

The two I really like, flavorwise, are the chocolate with mint frosting and the chocolate with orange frosting. The orange frosting has a nice juicy flavor, more so than the lemon.

It's clearly very popular; most people have never even imagined something like the Chockylit cupcakes, so these are their [limited] dream come true. I actually love the sight of the identically frosted cupcakes. For more possibilities, take a look at the Cupcake Planet blog ( It includes a review of Saint Cupcake ( in Portland, which may be closer to what you're looking for.

May 06, 2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Laurie- Thanks so much for the st. cupcake link! I will be checking it out as soon as I am in portland. And I agree, I have grown to admire the uniformity of the identical cupcakes.

May 09, 2006 9:31 AM  

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