A Cupcake Tasting Kind of Weekend

by Andie Mitchell on July 26, 2010

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.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life July 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

What an amazing market!

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Cindy July 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

I saw a video on Pike Marketplace once at, of all places, a work seminar. It was on the fish market. How they all worked together and made it fun.

SO aside from the “point” of the little video, I FELL IN LOVE with the market place and so now I am totally jealous you live nearby!

okay, and then there is the cupcake tasting job you have! Please ask Jesus if I can apply too!

I actually did go and try a nearby cupcake establishment…you’d be proud of me!

and they were all totally amazing!
what a great weekend Andrea!
now go have an equally amazing week!
xoxoxo

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Lindsay July 26, 2010 at 10:03 am

Pleeza no squeeza is so funny! No squeezing those avocados I suppose. The ingredients for the second cupcakes are fabulous. It shows every type of establish can be conscious to the ingredients they use. Red velvet is my favorite so I had high expectations for you when I saw it. Bummer is was no bueno. :(

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Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday July 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

2.99/lb for plums!? That price is outrageous.

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Shanna, like Banana July 26, 2010 at 10:14 am

Surely you should not brave this task alone. I will be on the next flt from Cali to seatac and share his burden with you. Yeah I’m just that nice ;)

Love Pike Place but hate the smell of fish :-/

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Can You Stay for Dinner July 26, 2010 at 10:38 am

Haha, Shanna get here! We’ll be on a one way flight to sugar induced comas together

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Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman July 26, 2010 at 10:15 am

My biggest beef with bakery cupcakes is that they’re always dry. I never get vanilla because that tends to be the worst. Red velvet is always the best when it comes to staying moist. But on a whole I’m usually more disappointed at the staleness than the awesome flavors.

By the way, that’s the biggest farmers market I’ve ever seen. So cool!

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Kelly July 26, 2010 at 11:35 am

What an amazing market!! WOW!!! I would have a field day in there! :)

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malpaz July 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm

i would KILL to have a farmers market like that down here… our food markets/choices are SO INCREDIBLY bad in Missssippi…no wonder we are #1 for obesity… lol

the cupcakes are adorable!!

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Kelly July 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Now I want a cupcake. Darn it!

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Amy @ Second City Randomness July 26, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Wink is such a cute name for a bakery, yes? Sorry that it wasn’t worth it- it always makes me sad when cupcakes are not nearly as good as they look… :(

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Tina July 26, 2010 at 12:18 pm

That is such a nice looking market. I want to order a White Choc Blueberry Mocha now. AND a lemon cupcake. But only if it comes from Cupcake Royale and not the other place. Nothing worse than dry cake!

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Erica July 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

The famous market!!!!!!! So gorgeous. Love the flowers, fruits, veggies (and the no squeeza sign). The mexican veggie and bean plate looks just freaking awesome too! Owww cup cakes. Love that you get to select your icing. Very cool

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joan July 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I would love to stroll through this market.

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luvtoeat July 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Thanks for sharing this awesome market. And the pleeza no squeeza sign is hilarious – luv it! Glad you had a wonderful weekend Andrea!

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fitandfortysomething July 26, 2010 at 1:27 pm

gosh you moved to an amazing place girl!

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tanyasDailyProductReviews July 26, 2010 at 1:34 pm

that market place looks great

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Lori (Finding Radiance) July 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

You make those cupcakes sound soooo good! We only have 2 places around here, and both are good.

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Faith July 26, 2010 at 3:57 pm

That market is gorgeous! It looks like they sell a little of everything…I love places like that, I could literally spend days there and not get bored! ;) The cupcakes look divine!

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thehealthyjunky July 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Oh my gosh, check out that market! Love your photos!

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Nora@LifeLifeEatRight July 26, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Oh My…..Seattle is my meca. I was talking to my parents last weekend about traveling and told them I want to go to France, Greece, California (wine country) and Seattle. They were skeptical about Seattle but now I’m sure they know why. The Public Market and Cupcakes. Life is good :).

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Can You Stay for Dinner July 27, 2010 at 8:23 am

Oh Nora I hope you come out! Seattle is wonderful- and very foodie. You’d love it!

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Jennifer July 27, 2010 at 5:27 am

haha thanks for the cupcake review! I have always wanted to go to a cupcake specialty shop. In fact, it’s funny you did this post because after I run my first half marathon, I had planned on me and the hubby going to get cupcakes. I mean after running 13 miles, what better time to eat cupcakes!

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Can You Stay for Dinner July 27, 2010 at 8:22 am

You must get cupcakes after that accomplishment! I’d just be on the sidelines watching the race with a boxed dozen!

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Nicole July 27, 2010 at 6:14 am

I’ve never been to a cupcake bakery, but I need to… Love cupcakes!

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Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine July 27, 2010 at 6:40 am

I love that you actually went on a tasting tour. I feel like I should do the same thing in NYC, but it would take forever! Cupcake Royale sounds like an absolute winner…that chocoalte cupcake is making my mouth water! Hope you have a wonderful day love!! xoxo

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Can You Stay for Dinner July 27, 2010 at 8:21 am

Oh I want to come to NYC and do a cupcake tasting tour with you! It might take us one full year, but I think it would be well worth it! :)

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Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers July 27, 2010 at 10:10 am

OH I’m so envious of that market. I would dearly love something like that locally. Reminds of this fab one I was in in Barcelona years ago.

Cupcake testing? Poor you. I love the muffin tops of the second ones…and that they tasted better.

The last bought cupcakes I tasted were awful – tasted like Duncan Hines or some such rubbish. I made a Nigella Lawson cupcake recipe for my little one’s birthday last week – just a basic fairy cake recipe – and they were great – only 6 ingredients or so – you really can taste the difference.

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Can You Stay for Dinner July 27, 2010 at 10:40 am

Oh, Christine I’m so glad the fairy white cupcakes turned out well! That Nigella…she knows a thing or two about good baking. And I am in complete agreement about the taste difference between boxed cake mixes and homemade. It’s unbelievable.

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dianacheung August 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm

omfreakinggoodness….I need you to take me along this cupcake tour whenever I go to Seattle…ridic…cupcakes are my favorite thing in the whole world…and that lox and creamcheese thing? LOOK AT IT!! It’s screaming delish!

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Healthy Coconut August 4, 2010 at 4:25 pm

One more thing, I really enjoyed my travel to Seattle and took a lot of pictures, I’ve posted some pictures from my trip.

http://healthycoconut.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/i-heart-seattle/

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Healthy Coconut August 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Hi,

I’m a new reader and catching up on your posts.

I went to Seattle for the first time last Fall and I went to Cupcake Royale and I do agree, it is really good. I like that they serve mini cupcakes, not like Sprinkle’s where the serving is a little large for my taste and have to save half of it another time, it’s so dense too.

One thing we didn’t get to do during our trip was do the “Theo’s Chocolate” tour. I will come back to Seattle just for that and oh maybe to run for a race.

Anyways, I’ve enjoyed your blog.

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