I visited Raleigh’s premier cupcake bakery, The Cupcake Shoppe, today following a birthday lunch with friends. While that extra “pe” really bugs me, their baking should be taken seriously. It’s seriously good.
Cupcakes have become so trendy in the past few years with cutesy bakeries cropping up everywhere. The trend has made its way into the wedding industry with cupcake wedding cakes becoming a standard option alongside traditional cakes or the trendy Krispy Kreme doughnut cake. I attribute the cupcake hype at least partially to Carrie and Miranda famously dining on New York City Magnolia cupcakes (in the episode “No Ifs, Ands, or Butts” from season 3). In between bites, Carrie reveals to Miranda that she has met Aidan. (Voice over: “He was warm, masculine, and classic American. Just like his furniture.”)
Besides this, the cupcake is just adorable: a smallish, single serving to be savored all on your own. The cupcake is appealing because it’s messy, but manageable. It’s an adventure mapping your way around the paper wrapper to get a bit of icing in every bite and not on your nose. And the little cakes come in so many flavor varieties, decorated either simplistically or elaborately.
On this visit I ordered the Lemon Zinger. That’s lemon cake with with lemon buttercream icing, and surprise!—lemon curd in the center. The heaping icing is beautifully simple and subtle in citrus flavor, though there is a kind of brightness, a lemony “zing.” I think Ina Garten adds a bit of lemon juice to her plain buttercream icing because it truly brightens the flavor, without adding that identifiabley lemon tartness. Likewise the cake was subtly lemon-flavored, until reaching the bright yellow curd on the inside. And then it was a matter of trying to plan each bite to include a taste of lemon curd.
The menu at The Cupcake Shoppe includes a variety of regular flavors, and a rotating flavor of the week. Here’s the bakery case. Top left is the “What’s Up Doc?” carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Below that is the “Mint Condition” chocolate cake with mint buttercream. Check out the menu here for a complete list of their regular flavors. I’m a big fan of the “Big Red.”
And here’s the flavor of the week: Banana Caramel.
I also did a little spying into the kitchen where a cupcake decorator was busy preparing a small custom order for a Harry Potter-themed party. What a fun job! She’s got a box of six cupcakes with brooms on the first two, then a pair with stars, and a pair with Harry Potter spectacles. I love the whimsy!
If you’re in the Glenwood South area, I recommend making a quick stop. There are tables and chairs inside if you want to eat-in. Plus I’m pretty sure they serve milk, coffee and so forth. The bakery also completes smaller custom orders and orders of a larger size for events and weddings. Prices are reasonable for the quality at $2.75 each, or $30 for a mixed dozen.