- Here’s Katherine freaking out at Sophie for over-committing to a cupcake project!
- Here they are having trouble getting their cupcake sculpture to fit through the door of the lab!
- Here they are at another bake-off, clearly staged so they can create some “tension”!
- Here’s Andres getting ticked off that he has to bake another buttload of cupcakes he wasn’t planning on! (I hope they pay that dude handsomely.)
Archive for the 'cupcake wars revisited' Category
There’s nothing like a massive cupcake taste-off to help you visualize yourself in that projectile puking scene from Stand By Me–with cake vomit standing in for pie vomit, in this case.
Last weekend, Ms. Pie, Mr. x-sXe, Greenie, Token Vegan and I set out to determine who makes the best cupcake in DC. According to The Washington Post cupcake wars from 2008, the winner was the chocolate ganache from Georgetown Cupcake. Since then, quite a few more cupcakeries have cropped up around town, so it was time for a re-match.
Aside: If you want to take all the pleasure, joy, and fun out of cupcaking, try tasting 30+ cupcakes between 4.5 people (the .5 being Token Vegan) over the course of 3 hours. While OD’ing on cupcakes like this may put most people off cupcakes for the foreseeable future, I was hitting the freezer for leftovers within 24 hours. Appalling but true.
The Methodology: We pitted 7 DC bakeries/cupcake shops against one another. Asterisks indicate national chains.
4) Red Velvet Cupcakery (not to be confused with red velvet cupcakes)
7) Sticky Fingers (vegan cupcakes)
We taste-tested 3 mainstay flavors side-by-side: red velvet, chocolate-on-chocolate, and vanilla-on-vanilla. Hello Cupcake doesn’t do a red velvet, and Baked & Wired was out of that flavor the day we went, sadly.
We also tasted 3 wildcard flavors:
1) Vegan peanut butter blossom from Hello Cupcakes
2) Menage a Trois from Baked & Wired (chocolate cupcake with raspberry filling, cream cheese icing, and cringeworthy name)
3) Chocolate marshmallow from Sprinkles
Cupcakes were scored on a 10-point scale (with 10 being the best) based on:
Let the chest-beating begin: The winners
Red Velvet: Sprinkles. Score: 7.75. The cream cheese icing was exactly the way you’d want it to taste–the tangyness comes through, perfectly paired with a fluffy, moist cake. Crumbs took second place with 6.25.
Chocolate-on-chocolate: Baked & Wired. Score: 7.25. The chocolate icing is a creamy consistency (did I detect a hint of coffee in there?) atop a dense cake with a hefty crumb. Sprinkles wasn’t far behind, with a score of 7. Note that we tested the dark chocolate from Sprinkles, which some taste-testers found “too rich.” And while Ms. Pie noted that “Hello Cupcake’s chocolate cupcake is like the Platonic ideal of what a cupcake should be,” they tied for third with Crumbs at 5.25.
Vanilla-on-vanilla: Baked & Wired. Score: 7.25. Crumbs was second, with 6.25. Overall we were most underwhelmed by the vanillas. Maybe that’s why the word vanilla is used as an insult? But we also tasted them last, giving them an unfair disadvantage, since we were ready to swear off cupcakes by then.
Wildcard: Baked & Wired, Menage a Trois. Score: 7.25. A thimbleful of raspberry filling complements the chocolate cake and icing nicely. Hello Cupcake was neck-and-neck with a score of 7.2. Actually their peanut butter blossom was a sleeper hit–much tastier than any of us anticipated. And by “tasty,” we don’t mean “tasty for a vegan cupcake.”
In conclusion: the best overall cupcake in DC is the red velvet from Sprinkles, but the best bakery overall is Baked & Wired. They also offer the best value, with cupcakes weighing in at 5.7 oz. ($3.50)–or as Ms. Pie puts it, “the Quarter Pounder of cupcakes.” To put that into perspective, a Georgetown cupcake ($2.75) weighs around 2 oz.
Sticky Fingers, a recent Cupcake Wars winner, was disappointing considering their big victory, although Ms. Pie is rallying for them to bring back their flower cupcakes. Their scores were consistently at the bottom along with Red Velvet Cupcakery (“frosting like a stick of butter”).
Sprinkles opened on Thursday–so there’s now 3 cupcake sources within a few blocks of one another, officially making Georgetown the Bermuda Triangle of diets.
Georgetown Cupcake and Sprinkles sit right on M Street, while Baked & Wired’s tucked away on Thomas Jefferson St. Like many, I’m wondering what kind of impact Sprinkles will have on the 2 others. Judging from the lines outside Georgetown Cupcake this morning, they haven’t taken much of a hit. Which worries me, since Baked & Wired will probably feel the effects more.
Stay tuned because next weekend, we’re pitting Sprinkles, Georgetown Cupcake, Baked & Wired, Crumbs, Hello Cupcake, Sticky Fingers, and Red Velvet Cupcakery against each other in a taste-off of whose cupcakes are the swoonworthiest in DC.
That Sprinkles awning has been taunting me for far too long. After being led on that the DC location would open fall 2010, then told it was delayed until February 2011, it’s finally opening on M Street this Thursday. The first 50 to whisper (do you really have to whisper it?) “capital cupcake” will get a free dark chocolate cupcake. There will also be a Sprinkles truck roaming DC with free cupcake giveaways.
Given that Georgetown Cupcake borrowed some its branding/marketing tactics from Sprinkles (a “signature” look to their icing, free cupcake giveaways, online pre-orders), it’s going to be interesting to see whether the student has truly become the master. And Baked & Wired probably isn’t thrilled about another bakery addition to Georgetown, but at least their goodies go beyond cupcakes.
Let the real cupcake wars begin!
March 4 update: the wait in line was about 10 minutes on opening day, not too bad. If you’d prefer not to wait, you can pre-order by calling 202-450-1610, then go directly to the counter to pick up. Starting Monday, 3/7, you can place your order online.
To coincide with the premiere of their second season of “DC Cupcakes,”* Georgetown Cupcake is giving away free cupcakes all day tomorrow, February 25, at both the Bethesda and Georgetown locations. (The sisters mentioned the giveaway in the last 5 seconds of this video.)
If you’d prefer not to stand for hours in the rain for a free cupcake smaller than your fist, do an online pre-order. You’ll probably be bitched out by people who don’t realize you can legitimately bypass the line to pick up your order. Remember, it’s likely that they’re sugar-starved maniacs who consider Georgetown Cupcake up there with the Lincoln Monument and National Air & Space Museum. Don’t let it get to you.
*The sisters’ endearingly gap-toothed and incompetent Mommy keeps me watching, but most of my friends consider the show one of the most contrived reality crapfests they’ve ever seen. To each her own!
Frankly, what kind of pie/cake blog are we that we can’t even get National Cupcake Day right? (It was December 15th.)
*Hang head in shame.*
Anyway, HuffPo put together this slideshow of LA cupcake places. Cupcakes AND good weather? Wish I were there.
PS: Sprinkles, you promised to open your DC Georgetown branch this fall. Now it’s been pushed back to 2011. C’mon, we’re sick of staring longingly into your empty storefront.