Sweets Bakeshop impresses a cupcake curmudgeon

Sweets Bakeshop impresses a cupcake curmudgeon
Photo courtesy Bethany Dick

I have absoultely no problem with cupcakes. In fact, I admire their perky shape, their portability, and the anticipatory pleasure of peeling back the paper cup before taking that first frosting-rich bite.

But are cupcakes superior to cake? Not really. Especially layer cakes, like this one, which I made for a friend's birthday a few weeks back and would highly recommend (you'll only need about 2/3 of the ganache--using 1.5 lbs. of chocolate for one cake is probably a little absurd).

Which is why I never understood the whole cupcake craze that started a few years ago and became so popular that ABC News, the Times, and the Atlantic all reported on it. (I was even once interviewed for a cupcake blog.) Sure, I'm a fan of the cupcakes at Cupcake, Miel e Leche, and Lucia's, for starters, but I've never found one that I thought could confidently outshine a stellar slice of layer cake. (The most overrated cupcakes? New York's famed Magnolia Bakery. When I tried several a few years back, the cake was dry and flavorless--not as good as a Duncan Hinz box mix.) That is, until I stumbled across Krista Steinbach's Sweets Bakeshop cupcakes.

Steinbach makes her cupcakes with local, natural ingredients (Hope butter, Schultz organic eggs, etc.) then drops 'em off at Local D'Lish every Wednesday (11 am) and Saturday (10 am)--you can also order them online. And holy whoa are they good!

I tried the Kettle Corn cupcake, which was made from a creamy cornbread-like cake with a streussel-style topping, honey butter frosting, and a few candied corn kernals as garnish. It's all the delicousness of cornbread in dessert form--and totally worth the $3 price tag. I also liked the Breakfast cupcake: moist vanilla cake topped with maple buttercream and a little pocket of crumbled bacon in the center. Let the frosting warm to room temperature and it does a bang-up job teasing out the sweet-salty flavors beloved by those who like to let their pancake syrup comingle with their bacon.

Steinbach makes all sorts of flavors--Nut Roll, Lavender, Grapefruit Sparkler--plus macaroons and brownies. Even if the Chocolate-i and Chocolate Goat cupcakes were filled with eyeballs and goat meat, I'd probably be willing to trust Steinbach enough to at least try them. Is it Wednesday yet?

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