Mark it with a B
UPDATE: The results were revealed today on All Over Albany so I can now disclose the bakeries involved in the secret taste test:
Bakery A – Fluffalicious
Bakery B – Sweet Temptations
Bakery C – Bettie’s
Bakery D – Coccadotts
I was lucky enough to score a couple of invites to the Great Albany Cupcake Tasting on Saturday. After the final results are displayed on AoA I will reveal the cupcakeries below. While there was a clear winner between the four competing cupcakeries, it was obvious that most of these places chose to focus on their unique items rather than getting the basics right: chocolate, vanilla and the damn cake. There was a difference of opinion on the use of cake mixes at our table. The logic behind using a cake mix is to create a consistent product. I don’t buy it. If I go into a bakery, I expect them to have baked their products from scratch. Even if they make their own mix I can get behind it. You have to be a scientist to be a baker – you have to understand how baking powder works or why you need certain ratios of multiple ingredients for your product to bake properly. Anyone can open a box of cake mix…that doesn’t give you the right to open a bakery. Personally, I was very displeased by the cupcakes with consistencies that were overly uniform. The textures were just uninteresting. The winner may have used a mix, but it was the only one that, to me, wasn’t clear whether they used a box mix. The winner made a cupcake with a moist and almost crumbly consistency with a smooth, creamy frosting that was light and appealing. While their specialty cupcake wasn’t overwhelmingly great, I was appreciative that they got the basics right.
The vanilla was the best. The winning cupcake was so good I had to finish it. It may have been the only whole (half) cupcake I ate at the judging. This round was otherwise disappointing. Cupcakery B(ad) had frosting that tasted like pepper, cupcakery C had cake and frosting that tasted four days old. Cupcakery D was decent and inoffensive…they also had a very modern, sleek-looking cupcake that was very appealing.
The chocolate round taught me that apparently none of these bakers has ever tasted chocolate or their “chocolate” cupcakes. Cupcake A won for consistency but still was lacking in good chocolate flavor. Cupcake D was inoffensive again. Cupcakes B(ad) and C(rap) were downright inedible. The frosting and cake were dry. Cupcake C tasted like a hockey puck that had sat in a fridge for a week.
By the time the peanut butter cup cupcakes came out, we were done…but, as it turns out, this was the surprise round. As mentioned before, it is clear that cupcakeries like to focus on the specialty items more than the basics. In this round, cupcake C had the best frosting. It blew everyone at our table away. The frosting tasted like real peanut butter, it was sticky and delicious. The cupcake was fresher than the previous hockey pucks but it still had a crappy texture. Another taster at our table thought the good and bad canceled each other out, making for an overall tasty cupcake, but I could not get past the cake. Cupcake B(ad) was terrible once again. Cupcake D was a little better than inoffensive. Cupcake A was on par with its first two offerings, however, it would have been nice to see it stand out a little more in this round after it had wowed us so much earlier (and since these cupcakes likely cost a pretty penny!).
Overall, Cupcake A was the clear winner of this competition. Cupcake D was a distant but solid second. Cupcake C was so incredibly bad but surprising enough with that great frosting in the peanut butter round to land it a 3rd place in the competition. Cupcake B was bad and easily in fourth place. The other judges at the table discussed how tough it is when this is someone’s livelihood that we’re judging here, but really, if you’re putting out a poor product you can’t expect to succeed in business. I think the main comment made that summed up Cupcake B was, how can they not know how bad these are? Their vanilla frosting tasted like pepper for crying out loud. That’s just inexcusable and awful.
Despite the mostly awful food, it was a really fun time. It was cool meeting people like DerryX, Wendalicious, irisira, Daniel B, Greg from AOA and others. A special thanks to Daniel B for such a fun afternoon, I’ll send you a bill for all the aspirin I consumed to fight off the resulting sugar headache.