Crazy for cupcakes
San Francisco shops that satisfy your sweet tooth
November 30, 2010 3:54 PM
Walking into San Francisco bakery American Cupcake is like walking into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The white walls are lined with white booths that reflect the changing blue, red, and green gumdrop lights hanging from the ceiling. Behind the counter, the wall is lined with jars of gumballs, Skittles, licorice, and other colorful candy. On the opposite mirror-covered wall, a black and white photo booth awaits little kids high on sugar during the day and adults who have had one too many Cosmos at night.
"The atmosphere and charm are big reasons why people come, and they love the novelty cupcake flavors," says Devin Alper, American Cupcake's founder.
Among the novelty flavors are Pixie Stick, s'more, and bubblegum. The bubblegum cupcake features a healthy dose of pink bubblegum frosting on a fluffy yellow cake topped with two gumballs. While the flashy novelty flavors might initially catch a customer's eye, the most popular flavors are the more traditional vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, and red velvet.
When creating new desserts, the staff looks for flavors that will not only satisfy the moms who come in with their children during the day, but the party crowd at night. One way they manage to appeal to the twenty-one and up crowd is with Cupcake Flights, a pairing of three cupcakes and three different wines. For Example, the Starburst pairs lemon, butterscotch, and coconut cupcakes with a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Merlot wine.
"We have anything you could possibly want," Alper says. "Times are tough and these cupcakes are an affordable indulgence that remind people of their childhood."
Nestled between warehouses and a Salvation Army in the SOMA district, the bright pink storefront of Cups and Cakes bakery instantly draws you in. Black, pink, yellow, and blue-checkered tiles line the floor while a black counter allows customers to eat and relax. An old-style bicycle is propped against the window outside, and in its wicker basket sits an assortment of bright blue and yellow flowers.
Behind the Root Beer Float, Lemon Drop, and Apple Pie cupcakes display is an open kitchen where patrons can watch the Cups and Cakes staff whip up their desserts. The treats are baked on a flat cooking sheet in paper cups instead of muffin pans with the traditional paper wrappers.
"We choose our flavors by what inspiration hits us," says Cups and Cakes founder Jennifer Emerson. "Sometimes I'll come across a specific ingredient to turn into a flavor or we'll try to create something new from a frosting or cake flavor we already have."
Cups and Cakes puts a lot of time into how their cupcakes look. The coconut s'mores cupcake is made to look just like the campfire treat while other flavors mimic different things. "The look of a cupcake is definitely important," Emerson says. "For our pumpkin cupcake we put pumpkin seeds in it, and I think it is helpful when people can immediately recognize what the flavor is."
Two steel tables await Susie Cakes' customers outside the black trimmed window, which features a three-tiered orange and black Giants cake. The inside is filled with light green, red, and white colors giving the bakery a vintage American feel. The cases are filled with a variety of desserts, from cupcakes to cookies with brightly colored frosting. The cozy atmosphere gives the feeling of baking treats in your own oven.
Susan Sarich, Susie Cakes' founder, describes her cupcakes as home-style Americana in the vein of Betty Crocker. Susie Cakes aims to create a family oriented atmosphere with cupcakes that taste like your grandma's baking, rather than modern, strange, and flashy new flavors.
"I'm from the Midwest and grew up with two fantastic grandmothers," says Sarich. "I wanted to bring a bit of the Midwest to the West Coast." The bakery features traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla, as well as seasonal favorites like pumpkin spice. The signature cupcakes, filled with frosting, are topped with generous amounts of fluffy frosting and sprinkles. The home-style cupcakes give the patrons a nostalgic feeling of childhood.
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University