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America, an enormous frosted cupcake


Fat Guy
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I think the raison d'etre of cupcake fancy is well described in the title of this ancient topic. I watch no TV, have never seen Sex and the City, and don't think that New York City and Manhattenites own cupcakes and the cupcake gestalt.

I have to say that of all the sexist patronizing terms for women, I like Cupcake best.

Cupcakes are like anything else: make your own! Grab Martha Stewart or Dorie Greenspan (for two) and bake and frost cupcakes! (Um, I bought a Wilton cupcake stand before Christmas. It was on sale, I swear.) The cupcakes I see most often at work are the insanely popular cupcakes from the Target across the street -- inedible with their shortening tub frosting, but terribly cute -- they're ornamented with tiny Snoopies.

A bakery that produced something moist, something buttery, something tasty -- and cute? Gold mine. They could charge twice what that SATC place charges.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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fat guy, did you notice also that "bruce's bakery" on the corner of...ummm...57th and 2nd, the neon used to say "bruce's bakery to the stars" or something like that. just before i moved to california last year, the neon changed to "bruce's cupcakery"!!! :blink:

the trend has become so prevalent that i'm tempted to open a cupcakery in my neighborhood to fill the void. i can't imagine that i'd lose money at $2-3 a pop! and with any luck (i am a pastry chef, after all) they'd taste a hell of a lot better than the magnolia poopcakes.

i'm ashamed to say that i brought cupcakes to the new years party that i was invited to :huh:

well...i just hope that i can profit from the trend one way or another. regardless of how it started. the thing that pisses me off is that someone can make a ton of money and then:

MAGNOLIA BAKERY Allysa Torey, who started the cupcake craze when she opened this Greenwich Village bakery 10 years ago, has sold it to Steven Abrams, a restaurateur. Ms. Torey will continue to be a consultant for the bakery: 401 Bleecker Street (11th Street), (212) 462-2572.

this was in the nytimes "food stuff" column today (wednesday). so she doesn't even have to work to produce that crap and she'll still make money.

and another example: miette, here in san francisco at the ferry plaza market...was part of a pastry competition on foodtv recently. they sell little cupcakes also. well, their cupcakes were judged to be (gently) not so good.

just a little frustrating to know that mediocrity does sell...a lot...and that i'm too cautious to make any money off of the trend.

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Mmmm. Cupcakes! I grew up in NJ, and have fond memories of bringing cupcakes to school on my birthday (in a large shirt box, thank you!) Didn't realize that it was a statewide thing. Throughout college, my roommates and I would bake cupcakes all the time, using boxed mix and a tub of frosting. I think we almost always had a plate of them on the counter. Our finest moment was making cupcakes out of brownie mix, and then liberally frosting them. Yep, it was sweet, but boy was it good. Also during college, I spent some time in Germany. At one point I made ice cream cone cupcakes for my co-workers (used the stand-on-their-own ice cream cones as cups, because I didn't have a muffin tin.) I really wanted them to experience something truly American. I loved them! My co-workers were less enthusiastic. They didn't like root beer either.

Nowadays, I have mostly attempted layer cakes to impress the wife. If I can ever be bothered to upload pics, I will show you my first attempt. One tub of frosting was not nearly enough "spackle" for repairs....

What's funny is I've got the Sex and the city DVDs, and don't remember anything about cupcakes. Cosmopolitans, yes, but not cupcakes. And now because I'm trying to be a "cooler" baker, I don't make them so much any more.

I should really bake a cake (layer or cup) by scratch, but even homemade from a box tastes better than most storebought cupcakes I've tasted (I agree with above sentiments about dry cake and sicky-sweet frosting.)

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...A side note: cupcakes are not the only individual cakes in America. In Texas and much of the South I know it has been common for ages to serve "cake squares" at parties. You cut a big layer cake into square or rectangular pieces, put each piece on a paper liner and frost the pieces individually.

This is the first I've heard of this. Maybe it's regional. But I've got family in Texas and I'm in Tennessee. I know that scored cake has been around the map for ever. Where you precut a sheet cake, ice it while keeping it all in place as one big cake, decorate or not and at time of service slide a spatula underneath to wiggle the slice out of it's place and then onto plates.

And actually, no I don't think so. You would cut your pieces, then ice then place on paper liners. :biggrin: But still yet the sides would rapidly get dry and that would be too time consuming done that way. That's why cupcakes are so cool. The paper keeps the uniced sides from drying out. Did you mean the scoring thing? Or petit fours where the cake is cut, liquid icing is poured over covering the sides, allowed to set up, and then placed on muffin papers or doilies? I think you mean the scoring thing.

You've seen this in bakeries?

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Or petit fours where the cake is cut, liquid icing is poured over covering the sides, allowed to set up, and then placed on muffin papers or doilies? I think you mean the scoring thing.

I definitely don't mean the scoring thing -- that's a whole different ballgame. But, yes, some cake squares are pretty much the same as traditional petits fours glacés. These two bakeries seem to make them that way, though I don't know what kinds of layering they have inside:

http://www.mageesbakeryfarm.com/articles/p...?articleid=6668

http://www.mcentyresbakery.com/cakesquares.htm

Others are more like individually frosted mini-cakes, and some (presumably those made by lazy bakers or those who have to mass produce under time constraints) are done in the sides-exposed manner.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Gotcha. Yeah, I think McEntyre's said it best,

"PETITFORS, CAKE SQUARES, BABY CAKES, MINI CAKES...CALL THEM WHAT YOU LIKE, BUT McENTYRE'S BAKERY HAS ATLANTA'S FAVORITE!!!"

I think it's done across the map is it not? You think it's more Southern?

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I think so as well. It never went "out" in the South, AFAIK, and I could relate to the ladies on Sex in the City squealing over cupcakes with firsthand memories and experience.

Dainty, foils, doilies, individual portions...

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Also never seen a whit of SatC, but many cupcakes.

When my child was in elementary school some teachers banned commercial cupcakes as birthday treats because of the awful lurid-colored trans-fat mess the inch-high frosting would inevitably make. (I supported them in this, for my own reasons of being disgusted by such cupcakes. Teachers don't really like the interruption of birthday treats anyway, and I don't much blame them. Didn't stop me from providing homemade cookies on my son's relevant days, however, did it.)

While they never went away, a necessary precursor to coming back, I think that the increased attention paid cupcakes is just another one of the many many many innumerable uncountable instances of regular old everyday or childhood or what is now called unfortunately "comfort food" having had the dubious light of pseudo-sophistication shown on it which we are supposed to all then say, ooh isn't that CLEVER isn't that EDGY isn't that WHATevah.

Years ago, in some food mag or another, Milliken and Feniger demonstrated their painstakingly handmade version of a Hostess chocolate cupcake, complete with cream filling and white squiggle. It was witty, and I can imagine they sold 1000s of them at their restaurant of the time. Their customers were the Hostess treat generation supreme, and were the right audience for the statement.

I have served cupcakes as dessert many times at dinner parties... I like to bake them in regular and reduced-calorie sizes in regular and mini size pans. Those exercising portion control appreciate it, and everybody gets the joke. A stand like Maggie scored would make a great way to serve exquisite birthday or other event cupcakes. (Which is probably how you plan to use it, M.?)

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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I think there may be some confusion here regarding what a culinary trend is. The cupcake explosion seems the very definition of what such a trend is generally understood to be. That's why I could go on all day long citing report after report of increased cupcake sales, new cupcake bakery openings, etc., pretty much every one of which points to Magnolia and Sex and the City as the core trend marker. That's why if you ask someone like alanamoana, who works in the pastry-and-baking business, you won't hear a moment's hesitation at declaring that this is the trendy thing of the moment.

Nobody is saying Magnolia invented the cupcake, and of course Magnolia and several other places were driving a cupcake trend before Sex and the City took it global. Sure, we know there were plenty of cupcakes all over the place before all that. Perhaps they were especially popular, for example, in the Midwest or Texas or California. But if you take something that's popular in a few places, and all of a sudden it becomes popular everywhere else and starts ratcheting up in price and concept, you're looking at a trend phenomenon. It doesn't quite make sense to say, "Oh, we always did it this way in the Midwest, therefore the fact that sales have increased a villion percent across the country isn't really a trend." It would be like denying that there's a cocktail trend now, because, hey, I've been drinking mint juleps since before you were knee high to a grasshopper.

Some more citations:

In Philadelphia alone, three cupcake-centric cafes have opened in the last year: Buttercup Bakery at 1709 Walnut and SoHo Bakery, a franchise of the New York original, with locations in Old City and Rittenhouse Square. Both rely on cupcakes as the main draw, and sell out of cupcakes almost every day.

. . . . .

Magnolia Cafe and a few other New York bakeries launched the trend a few years ago, when they started selling nothing but the beautifully frosted creations.

. . . . .

Publishing houses responded this spring with cookbooks full of recipes: cupcakes made with chantilly cream; hot fudge; spumoni ice cream; even green tea.

http://www.gazettetimes.com/articles/2005/...food/food01.txt

Time was, cupcakes were limited to kids' birthday parties. But their nostalgic, playful appeal has turned them into big business. New York City's Magnolia Bakery may have sparked the trend, but dozens of other places there have capitalized on it. The craze has spread to virtually every city with a smart baker, and has even gone global; in Sydney, cupcakes at this year's Royal Fine Food Show outnumbered all other cake and pastry entries.

http://www.boston.com/ae/food/articles/200...ut_the_cupcake/

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I saw SATC once about three years ago. So, I don't know about the timing, but there was a surge of cupcakery openings here in Seattle about two years ago. I don't know that I've noticed any opening lately, but maybe I'm blocking them out. I'd be fine with the trend if the cupcakeries produced a tasty product. Instead we're stuck with cupquackeries, producing cupped poo piles mounded with an inch or two of sweetened oobleck.

I'm with Michael. Give me a good tasting cake part and about 1/8 inch of icing.

M. Thomas

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You know, when I was a kid, they were the thing for birthday parties. And you made them from any cake recipe or frosting recipe you had - you just poured 'em out into the muffin papers instead of a cake tin. They were good.

I find the NYC ones to be kind of fun, but awfully sweet, and totally overwhelmed by the icing (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that - it's probably their appeal). And they're cute.

I also think that for the fat fearful, buying one cute, gooey sweet thing is safer than getting a whole cake, which is probably why they're so popular.

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(There was an interesting sub-discussion of the cupcake rights of those unfortunate chldren with summertime birthdays and how they should be accommodated, but that's not terribly germane here.)

Please! Someone enlighten me! What - on EARTH - has summer/not summer to do with whether or not children get cup cakes (we call them patty cakes here). at their birthday parties!!!!!!!!!!!

There is some unfathomable divide here between our two countries with their common language and heritage.

Our summers here in Queensland are tropical HOT - and I've never known a summer-birthday kid miss out on patty cakes at a birthday party. The icing melts more quickly, and it is a harder job keeping the flies off them if the party is outside, but .......

Is there some strange Puritan-originating law that says sunshine and cup-cakes together are too much fun?

If I dont get an answer to this very quickly, I'll go slightly mad.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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(There was an interesting sub-discussion of the cupcake rights of those unfortunate chldren with summertime birthdays and how they should be accommodated, but that's not terribly germane here.)

Please! Someone enlighten me! What - on EARTH - has summer/not summer to do with whether or not children get cup cakes (we call them patty cakes here). at their birthday parties!!!!!!!!!!!

There is some unfathomable divide here between our two countries with their common language and heritage.

Our summers here in Queensland are tropical HOT - and I've never known a summer-birthday kid miss out on patty cakes at a birthday party. The icing melts more quickly, and it is a harder job keeping the flies off them if the party is outside, but .......

Is there some strange Puritan-originating law that says sunshine and cup-cakes together are too much fun?

If I dont get an answer to this very quickly, I'll go slightly mad.

Kids who have birthdays in the summer when school is out don't need cupcakes to take to school

SB :wink:

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Apparently there's a custom of some decades' standing in which kids bring cupcakes to school on their birthdays. One school felt that these in-class parties were detracting from the educational experience and banned the cupcakes, which naturally led to a hue & cry from parents who felt that their children were being deprived of a hallowed childhood rite.

(There was an interesting sub-discussion of the cupcake rights of those unfortunate chldren with summertime birthdays and how they should be accommodated, but that's not terribly germane here.)

Please! Someone enlighten me! What - on EARTH - has summer/not summer to do with whether or not children get cup cakes (we call them patty cakes here). at their birthday parties!!!!!!!!!!! 

If I dont get an answer to this very quickly, I'll go slightly mad.

Now, now. We can't have that.

I'm guessing that the "problem" is that when a child has a summertime birthday, they miss out on the in-school cupcake bringing for their birthday party that would be held during classroom time. Goodness knows how this might scar one for life. :sad:

No, no, nothing Puritan about this one. :smile:

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I'm guessing that the "problem" is that when a child has a summertime birthday, they miss out on the in-school cupcake bringing for their birthday party that would be held during classroom time. Goodness knows how this might scar one for life.  :sad:

Sadly, many school districts now prohibit cupcake or other homemade treat distribution lest a peanut adverse, diabetic, gluten or lactose intolerant student feel "left out". :sad:

No, no, nothing Puritan about this one.  :smile:

No, no. All properly PC. :wink:

SB :rolleyes:

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I see.

Summer = no school.

No school = no cupcakes at school, not (necessarily) no cupcakes at all.

I would have thought that a lot of kids would think being on holiday and therefore deprived of a cupcake party at school would be a good trade – particularly if said holiday represented not having to deal with school authorities who feel “that these in-class parties were detracting from the educational experience."

And as for parents who would make a hue & cry because their little dears were being deprived of “a hallowed childhood rite”! Those parents would be more toxic to their kids than the teachers/school authorities. What about the hallowed childhood rite of having a cupcake party at home? Are said parents complaining that their children only get half their quota of cupcakes, or no cupcakes at all?

This cynical old biddy thinks that some people have too much energy to waste. Same amount of energy spent obtaining or making cupcakes for said deprived children would be energy better spent. Even better spent helping said children learn to make cupcakes themselves. Good educational experience, that. Or might they get sore arms from stirring ingredients, or (heaven forbid) burn themselves?

I see now. It is not Puritan, it is Puerile. This sort of madness happens here too, and I suspect also in the UK. We are rearing a generation of fragile, over-protected, wussy kids. World War III over no cupcakes at school. Scarred for life, definitely.

Please dont try and explain any more. This cultural immersion is giving me a headache. I'm going to make myself a healing cuppa.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I'm guessing that the "problem" is that when a child has a summertime birthday, they miss out on the in-school cupcake bringing for their birthday party that would be held during classroom time. Goodness knows how this might scar one for life.  :sad:

Sadly, many school districts now prohibit cupcake or other homemade treat distribution lest a peanut adverse, diabetic, gluten or lactose intolerant student feel "left out". :sad:

No, no, nothing Puritan about this one.  :smile:

No, no. All properly PC. :wink:

SB :rolleyes:

My daughter's preschool has a "no cupcakes please" policy not due to preserving the tender young psyches of physically challenged students, but merely because they are too messy to clean up after and the kids normally either take only one bite or lick the icing off and drop the cake all over the place.

Get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!!!

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I'm guessing that the "problem" is that when a child has a summertime birthday, they miss out on the in-school cupcake bringing for their birthday party that would be held during classroom time. Goodness knows how this might scar one for life.  :sad:

Sadly, many school districts now prohibit cupcake or other homemade treat distribution lest a peanut adverse, diabetic, gluten or lactose intolerant student feel "left out". :sad:

No, no, nothing Puritan about this one.  :smile:

No, no. All properly PC. :wink:

SB :rolleyes:

Well. . .it's all part of the proper sort of training, you know. One can not just expect cupcakes to be there when one *wants* one, in a simple form, with lots of icing (because ICING is what children LOVE!), when one is a child.

You really have got to wait till you *grow up*, move to Manhattan, get a fabulous hairdresser and learn how to wear four inch heels (just like the heroines on Sex in the City! pant pant) without being a cranky royal bitch all day long from the pain in your feet, then walk with some little style and attitude into the Right Sort of Cupcake Place (naturally you will be skinny so there will be *no* thoughts to banish of pinching waistbands as you pull open the shiny glass door that reflects you) and just pull out that shiny credit card to order your four-dollar cupcake. :smile:

By the way, does anyone know the price tag on the Magnolia cupcakes? I just *guessed* four dollars.

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And as for parents who would make a hue & cry because their little dears were being deprived of “a hallowed childhood rite”!  Those parents would be more toxic to their kids than the teachers/school authorities.  What about the hallowed childhood rite of having a cupcake party at home? Are said parents complaining that their children only get half their quota of cupcakes, or no cupcakes at all?

Forgive me, but I must proffer one further bit of explanation: as I understand the old school custom, the birthday child brings a box of cupcakes to class and shares them with his/her classmates.

The summertime kids are denied this opportunity. Some schools have attempted to make up for it by holding a catch-all cupcake party at the start of the school year; some parents, naturally, still complain aboiut this since the summertime kids aren't getting the individual attention that they deserve. In response, some schools have taken to staging monthly birthday parties in an effort to restore the balance.

What's less clear is whether this all gives the child a lesson in the joys of sharing or prepares him/her to be an attention, err, monger later in life. But it is heartening to know that our schools are giving so much thought to our children's cupcake intake.

I guess I should also apologize for interjecting these footnotes into discussion of the national culinary trend which this thread is about; a trend of which, since I do not have cable and spend much of my life among, if not under, rocks, I was blissfully unaware until I saw this thread.

Edited by ghostrider (log)

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Wow. There's even a Magnolia Bakery and Cafe cookbook (two of them, actually) but they are not sold on Amazon US but rather, is

In stock

Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.co.uk

.
I could'nt believe it when i found this book! My wife and i visit NYC on our holidays every september (best time to go by the way) and every time,... yes every time she drags me on the Sex and the City tour as she was, and still is a huge fan.

Heh heh. Guess it's not only soley the unmarried nor solely the female that enjoy thinking about over-frosted cupcakes. :smile:

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