Washington Post Cupcake Wars: Desperately In Need of A Synonym For "Creamy"

by moderndomestic on October 27, 2008

I’ve been remiss in my updates on the Washington Post’s Cupcake Wars, now that so much of my time is taken up the ModernDomestic Presidential Cookie Bake-Off. Well, that, and Wonktheplank’s computer is still in the shop, leaving us computer-less at home.

I even failed to update despite the astonishing developments in the Cupcake Wars: the Washington Post decided to extend the series! Last week was supposed to be the last match up, but instead some crafty editor decided he could squeeze two more weeks of content out of the series! This makes me think that someone at the Post is a little late on their “Thanksgiving Guide” or whatever they’re working on over there for November, and decided to just cover it up with some more Cupcake Wars. Or maybe those Washington Post reviewers couldn’t get their fill of viciously criticizing cupcakes.

Two weeks ago, the Post ventured out to two bakeries, Baltimore Cupcake Company and Furin’s of Georgetown, to see how their cupcakes compared with the rest of the pack. Um, excuse me, but isn’t this the Washington Post? Didn’t they stray into cupcake territory rightly belonging to the Baltimore Sun? I knew there weren’t enough bakeries in DC for this series.

Well, they weren’t well-served by their foray, as Post testers didn’t like Baltimore Cupcake Company’s offerings. They disliked the “crumbly” cakes and “pasty” frostings, and they thought the flavors tasted like “Halloween candy.” The best of the bunch was the peppermint patty cupcake, but only because one judge liked it and raised its average score.

However, not to worry Baltimore Cupcake Company—your competitor didn’t do so hot either. In fact, the Post thought that the cupcakes at Furin’s of Georgetown were pretty awful, and in a “I think I’ve tasted these from the Safeway bakery before” kind of way. Tasters called the cupcakes “forgettable,” with flavors that were difficult to distinguish from one other. They thought the carrot cake cupcake was the best of the bunch, although thing was huge – like, 7.9 ounces huge. What I really want to know is, if the cupcake clocks in at just under half a pound, does it even qualify as a cupcake any more? Or is it actually a small cakes?

Last week, the Post managed to find two more bakeries to profile: Chatman’s D’Vine Bakery & Café, a new bakery at the Washington Convention Center, and Best Buns Bread Co, of Shirlington. This made me feel a bit nostalgic, as Wonktheplank used to live in Shirlington, and we’d walk by Best Buns all the time, although we never actually went there (we were too busy getting the awesome and awesomely cheap Mediterranean food at Aladdin’s).

I also wonder which intern had to go and make all those calls to bakeries seeing if they sold cupcakes. Do you feel like you’re a real journalist now? Do you?

Surprise surprise, the cupcakes from Chatman’s D’Vine Bakery & Café didn’t fare so well. Post testers thought the cupcakes tasted like they had “come out of a box,” and had strange, off-flavors. The cake was dry, and the frostings were marked down for  tasting “artificial.” Testers were fans of the red velvet cupcake, however, perhaps because it hadn’t been sitting around in the refrigerator case all day.

But you know that the Post can’t have too many weeks in row hating on cupcakes. So the cupcakes from Best Buns received strong reviews. The Post testers praised the cupcakes for their moistness, saying that the cupcakes reminded them of a “classic homemade oil-based cake,” whatever that is (we always made butter cakes growing up). Testers liked the rich chocolate flavor of the chocolate cupcake, and praised the not-to-sweet frostings. The chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting was hailed as the best of the lot.

So there you have it, folks! Two weeks of cupcake mania. I bet whoever is writing up this series is dying every time they have to describe a new frosting. I mean, how many times can you say a frosting is “creamy,” or “fluffy,” without making them all sound exactly the same? Well, we’ll see how they do next week, as the Cupcake Wars wraps up. Or will it?

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