It was a scene to reverberate throughout the baking world for years to come: Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw licking the creamy pink icing off the side of her mouth, having taken a bite out of a cupcake in front of New York’s Magnolia Bakery. Years later the cupcake craze shows no signs of abating. And with Australia being no exception, everyone in Sydney has their favourite cupcake joint … but which bakery is truly the best? We take the ultimate tasting tour.
The Cupcake Bakery
The Cupcake Bakery’s cupcakes are cheerful, medium-sized and feature classic swirled icing tops (and simple but cute garnishes, like a pinch of coloured confetti or a single sugar carrot). With their convenient CBD locations, three in Sydney and three in Melbourne, these cupcakes make for the perfect mid-afternoon break from shopping or work. Try the store’s two biggest hits: the devilishly delicious “Choc-Choc” and “Red Velvet” where a thick, luscious layer of cream cheese icing fills your mouth. Price: $3.80 for a standard cupcake, $42 for a dozen. Location: Sydney CBD and Melbourne CBD. thecupcakebakery.com.au
If these cupcakes were a person … they’d be your best friend. Always there for you when you want to grab a coffee and feel good.
Cupcakes on Pitt
The wares at Cupcakes on Pitt may be small on cake, but they’re big on personality. The garnishes tower like a dazzling, race-day hat, such as in “Vanilla Sundae”: a vanilla cupcake with a double vanilla and strawberry cream icing garnished with a riot of hundreds and thousands, and topped off with a glazed cherry and chocolate wafer stick. These cupcakes are all about having fun, full of sparkle and colour, and have super fluffy icing. Price: $2.50 for a standard cupcake, $27 for a dozen. Location: Sydney CBD, Chatswood, Parramatta. cupcakesonline.com.au/
If these cupcakes were a person … they’d be that absolutely fabulous diva who’s always up for celebrating.
Sometime during the five years that Sparkle Cupcakery founder Kathryn Sutton lived in New York she caught the “cupcake bug”. So she brought home her love of yum and started a local cupcake store that has to be the most sophisticated of the lot — she’s the CoCo Chanel of confection. Her store is an elegant exercise in mirrored finish, while cupcake packaging is a stylish black box paired with silver lettering. And the cupcakes themselves? Pitch-perfect cakes with delicate traces of exquisite flavours, creamy, white icing topped with a very minimalist button of colour. The flavour list should be enough to get you salivating: Lemon Squeeze, Lavender and Honey, Salted Caramel, Coconut Ice, Green Tea and Bubbles … who’s hungry? There’s also a gluten-free option every day, and for the super indulgent you can add a glass of champers. Price: $4.50 for a standard cupcake, $50 for a dozen. Location: Surry Hills. sparklecupcakery.com.au/
If these cupcakes were a person … they’d be the classy socialite who’s always wearing vintage couture.
The Cupcake Factory
With their generous size and reasonable price, the goods from The Cupcake Factory are perfect for parties. Fun, candy flavours like Cookies and Cream, Jaffa, Rocky Road and Malteser Delight mean they’re sure to be a hit with the littlies. Die-hard chocoholics should dive into their “Indulgent Cupcake Range”, where a whole Lindt chocolate ball or a white chocolate dipped strawberry topples over each cake. Glorious! They also have a range of themed packages to suit. Price: $3 for a standard cupcake, $36 for a dozen. Location: Drummoyne, Balmain, Earlwood. thecupcakefactory.com.au/
If these cupcakes were a person … they’d be your much-loved nan who always has a cupboard stocked full of lollies.
The Cupcake Room
When Joanne Gabbe decided to open her boutique Leichardt store The Cupcake Room, she promised to eschew branching in order to keep her place special. And special it is: each handcrafted treat seems infused with a love that makes the classic Vanilla Buttercake (topped with melt-in-your-mouth, soft cream icing) so delectable.
Joanne and her team also offer customisation, usually with no added cost to their standard cupcake price. Standard parties aside, they’ve done divorces, wakes and even a breast reduction celebration (you can imagine what went on those cupcakes!). Katy Perry was served these cupcakes when she was last in town, and Sarah Murdoch ordered up a batch for her daughter’s christening. You’ll be glad to hear that unlike most cupcakes which have to be eaten on the same day, these last for three days or more. Price: $2.50 for a standard cupcake, $30 for a dozen. Location: Leichardt. thecupcakeroom.com.au/
If these cupcakes were a person … they’d be your fairy godmother who, with a trace of (edible) glitter in the air, knows how to make all your cupcake wishes come true.
With their moody, dark red interiors, there’s something romantic in the air when you step into a Ghermez store. And their cupcakes are a dramatic study in contrasts: light, moist cakes topped with heavy and exotic toppings like the Argentine caramel-like sauce dulce de leche, or coconut shavings with cream cheese icing. Like Sparkle Cupcakery, this high-quality cupcake chain is raising the bar in Sydney when it comes to sophisticated, “adults only” sweets. Price: $3.80 for a standard cupcake, $40 for a dozen. Locations: Sydney CBD, Bondi Junction, Alexandria. ghermez.com.au
If these cupcakes were a person … they’d be that tall, dark and handsome former fling from your last summer holiday in Europe or South America.
It’s not surprising to hear that The Buttercream Bakery was started by four long-time friends — there’s something joyful and fun about their cupcakes. The small cakes are fitted with a head of puffy cream icing and statement garnishes. The brownie and cream cheese cupcake from their “Deluxe Range” is particularly sweet and tasty. For those of you seeking something more unique, look to the company’s “cake pops and bites” — round balls of cake on lollipop sticks or served on their own coated in icing and topped off with a bold, edible flourish. Price: $3.30 for a standard cupcake, $39.60 for a dozen. Location: The Buttercream Bakery are opening a store in Bella Vista this year. Until then head to their website for deliveries. buttercream.com.au/
If these cupcakes were a person … they’d be a young, fun-loving urbanite who always knows what’s cool without losing their sense of humour.
ninemsn’s pick: Sparkle Cupcakery
Utterly unique cupcakes that are also scrumptious. If cupcakes could be “groundbreaking”, Kathryn Sutton’s done it.
Do you have a favourite cupcake place in your ‘hood? Nominate it in the comment section below.
Other notable cupcake stores around the country:
- Mr Nice Guy, misterniceguy.com.au
- Little Cupcakes, littlecupcakes.com.au
- Cupcake Central, cupcakecentral.com.au
- The Cupcake Queens, thecupcakequeens.com.au
- Cakes by Judy C, cakesbyjudyc.com.au
- Couture Cupcakes, ilovecouturecupcakes.com.au
- Poppy Cakes, poppycakes.com.au
- My Sweetopia Cupcake Cafe, mysweetopia.com.au
- The Cupcake Parlour, thecupcakeparlour.com.au
- BTS Cafe, on Facebook
- Jazz Apple Cafe, jazzapplecafe.com.au
- Sherbert Cafe & Bake Shop, sherbetbakeshop.com.au
- Cutie Cups, cutiecupcakes.com.au
ninemsn, March 2011.