Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Pasadena Cupcake Challenge

The Challenge: Who Has the Best Cupcakes in Pasadena?
The Judge: One Cupcake Lovin’ Birthday Girl (moi) and Her Best Friend
The Competitors: Violets Cakes, Dots Cupcakes, and My Sweet Cupcake

It was a bright and sunny January afternoon and birthday cake was in dire need. Yes, this joyful judge, is normally the one in her social circle to make the cake, but today was her birthday and no cake was in sight. Thus, to the hands of local creative cake-stresses she did turn, for much needed birthday bites. But alas, Pasadena is the home of not one, but three cupcake shops! Which one to pick? Why all of them of course! And so the Pasadena cupcake challenge was born. Tasting wine is fine, but tasting cake does a birthday make!

To add a little fun to any tasting experience, this joyful judge decided to rate each cupcake shop on food, flavor, and outright fabulousness! Her cupcake criteria falls into these six categories:

1) Moisture – This is a key element in any baking book. What is the texture of the cake itself? Is it soft and fluffy, moist and marvelous? Or is it dry and stale like dusty dirt?

2) Frosting – Yes, toppings can come in many flavors and styles, from ganache to butter cream, whipped frosting, or glazed. Flavor and texture both come into play here, as well as consistency and proper pairing.

3) Flavor – Chocolate is chocolate is chocolate. Or is it? A successful cupcake needs to blend flavors into an elegant palette. Too much chocolate can overwhelm. The wrong frosting can clash. Is it boring old vanilla, or a mega-mess of too many tastes?

4) Presentation – As an artist and cake decorator the look of the cupcake is important. Presentation alone will cause you to buy a cupcake! How creative were our cake-dressers in pimping their pastries?

5) Atmosphere – This criteria is about the shop itself. The presence of a business can make or break a cupcake experience. Are the shop keepers as sweet as their sweets? Are the seats comfortable and the cakery quaint?

6) Selection – What are the choices? Though classic chocolate and vanilla are staples of any cake collection, what other unexpected flavors might tickle the taste buds? Is there enough cake to keep a customer coming back for more and more and more?

Which cake shop will win our judge’s adoration and life-long patronage? Which will make a birthday? And whose pretty pastries will flounder and fall flat?

Stay Tuned for the next three posts to see which Pasadena pastry takes the cake! Posting order will be: Violet’s Cakes, Dot’s Cupcakes, and My Sweet Cupcake.

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