Monday, April 26, 2010

Rant: Dry Cupcakes

There has been a surge of cupcake mania, from Cupcake Camp to the opening of numerous small, cupcake boutiques. Often, for $3 or more, you can purchase a relatively small cupcake, topped with a mound of sweet frosting. Each such cupcake spot has its avid fans, but I am usually very puzzled by the admiration. Why do so many of those cupcakes taste so dry to me?

I think a good cupcake should be moist, enjoyable even without any frosting. Is that really so much to ask? There is plenty of advice online for the home cook on how to make a moist cupcake. But it seems that most cupcake stores can't seem to make a moist cupcake. So what is the problem? Are they baking them too long? Do they sit on the display shelves too long? Are their recipes just bad? Or is it their intent, to produce a dry cupcake?

Sometimes I feel as if the majority of people prefer dry cupcakes, which I don't want to believe to be true.. That seems to be the only rationale explanation for the popularity of some of these cupcake boutiques. Can someone help me with my dilemma? Can someone explain why dry cupcakes get so many raves? Or do you forgive the sin of a dry cucpcake if you enjoy the frosting so much?

There are moist cupcakes available, but it seems more and more difficult to find them. I hope they are not a dying breed, though they seem endangered. As long as people support stores making dry cupcakes, then moist ones will be pushed to the wayside.

Stand up and be heard. Demand moist cupcakes!


Pam said...

Was it my little rant that got your rant going? ;) I'm amazed to see people flock to bakeries with such inferior products as well. Why waste your money or calories on something that's not good? My favorite places for cupcakes are Cake in Lexington (where all cupcakes are $2) and Bread and Chocolate in Newton. At the Cupcake Camp, I tried and loved Sugar Bakery in West Roxbury and the soon-to-open Treat Bakery in Needham.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Pam:
Yes, the twitter chat on this subject did spur on the rant. Though I have discussed the topic before on my blog, it was always within some other post, and never stood on its own. I will have to check out the places you recommend. Thanks.

Travel Eat Love said...

It seems like its often the case that cute and trendy things get attention they might not deserve! I haven't found cupcakes or even cakes that I absolutely love here in the Boston area, but I have been extremely disappointed by some of the more popular bakeries.

CupcakesOMG! said...

I can't be certain, but I'm wondering if you're craving more of a boxed mix cupcake texture? Typically, box mix cakes tend to be very light, airy, and, yes, quite moist. It could be in part because most mixes call for vegetable oil instead of butter. Typically, a cupcake made from scratch starts with the same two ingredients as a lot of baked goods: creaming butter and sugar together.

The butter in a scratch cupcake can create a denser cake, with fewer air pockets, which some people mistake for "moistness".

Nevertheless, if it's not the mix taste/consistency you're referring to, it could be that they aren't beating their butter long enough before adding the dry ingredients. Creaming the butter with the sugar should take about 5-7 minutes on high speed. This will give you a lighter, fluffier cupcake. Assuming the other ingredients are high quality, you should also have a moist cupcake.

I would also be curious whether the cupcakes you've been purchasing are made fresh daily or if they are made in large batches, frozen, and thawed before serving.

Gloria said...

Thanks for your post. I have been baking professionally for 30 years and you are totally correct. Most of these cup cakes that people are raving about are just terrible and yes, dry as a bone.
Two answers to your question:
Never underestimate the bad taste of the American public... and to add insult to injury....most of these places are just over-baking and drying out the product. They also believe that their "home" recipes will convert to commercial parameters and they just don't. Professional baking is a skill and takes a knowledge base. Most of the shops with bad product have no idea what "professional" means sorry to say.
Fortunately there are some good cup cakes out there!

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks Travel for your comment. Glad to see I am not alone in my opinion.

Thanks very much CupckaesOMG for your detailed comments. There are places that make "moist" cupcakes so I don't believe it is a matter of "boxed" mixes. I think it has to do with how the "dry" shops are making their cucpakes. Some might have been frozen.

Thanks Gloria for your thoughts, and I think your comments are spot on.