I think about cupcakes a lot. Aside from baking them, buying them, and analyzing their merits on an all too regular basis, I also read about them in the paper, in cookbooks, and online. After a great deal of thought and introspection on the sweet subject, I’ve concluded that cupcake lovers can be divided into two camps: In-the-Box and Out-of-the-Box.
Team In-the-Box seeks a cupcake that tastes like it came from Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines’ oven. The cake is fluffy and airy, while the frosting is unabashedly sweet and messily applied. These folks are of the thought that nothing tastes better than childhood nostalgia and embrace joints like Yummy Cupcakes (Santa Monica, Glendale) and Violet’s Cakes (Pasadena) with all of their sugary hearts.
Team Out-of-the-Box desires a more unique and thoughtful product—a cupcake so special that it cannot be replicated at home, unless of course one’s pantry contains Madagascar bourbon vanilla and imported sprinkles. The cake tends to be dense, yet moist, while the easier-on-the-sugar frosting is always stylishly applied. Cupcakeries like Sprinkles Cupcakes (Beverly Hills) and Dots Cupcakes (Pasadena) hit a home run with this crowd.
As Captain of Team Out-of-the-Box, Crumbs Bake Shop didn’t sweep me off of my feet. The vanilla cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting ($2.95) tasted disappointingly ordinary with strangely buttery tones—I swore I was eating a pound cake. While the cupcake was pleasant enough to avoid being tossed in the bin half eaten, it lacked the “specialness” that I desire in a boutique cupcake experience. After all, if I’m going to go through the trouble of procuring a premium-priced cupcake, it sure as heck better taste better than something I could crank out at home. Another factor working against Crumbs’ cupcake was its bulk. Even with my extraordinary chompers, I could not manage a clean bite from top to bottom. Please note that Crumbs offers an even larger size than the one I ate for $3.75. That’s crazy talk, I say.
Sprinkles Cupcakes > Dots Cupcakes > Vanilla Bake Shop > Crumbs Bake Shop > Auntie Em’s Kitchen > Yummy Cupcakes > Violet’s Cakes.
Crumbs Bake Shop
9465 S. Santa Monica Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210