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The cupcakes of Austin, Texas

SEATTLE, Washington - I've been sampling so many cupcakes lately, I'm running out of things to say, but anyway here's the results of visiting a few shops in Austin.

I had never been to Austin and was expecting a roughly Boise-sized city, but it's bigger - the city itself has about 750K residents, significantly more than Seattle, albeit in a footprint about double the size of Seattle's. I passed through several Seattle-esque livable neighborhoods. I was intrigued, but I'd probably be a whole lot less intrigued in the hot summer - my years in Seattle have made me dislike day-to-day life under air conditioning.

My first cupcake visit was not in a hip neighborhood, but in the outer reaches of Austin's sprawl, at Cupprimo. A small place (with a weird, closet-sized room in the back with a couple chairs and a whiteboard, in case you want to hold a corporate event there) that was presided over by the owner or someone doing a good impersonation of a shop owner. Below are the Elvis cupcake (chocolate, peanut butter, banana) and a mini strawberry cupcake. The Elvis cupcake seems to appear everywhere I go except Seattle. These were probably the 2nd best cupcakes on the trip.

My next stop was Sweetish Hill. This cupcake is barely worth mentioning - this is a full-service bakery with a broad selection of stuff, and the cupcake was a refrigerated, undistinguished brick.

Next up was the Hey Cupcake! trailer on (in?) South Congress. Austin has metal trailers serving all sorts of stuff, from tacos to crepes. They offer a feature called the "whipper snapper", where the cupcake of your choice is injected with whipped cream to order. This is the "Michael Jackson" cake, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, with the whipped cream:

I think this cupcake had good cake, it had the fundamentals, but there were some issues. One, I guess due to sitting in a metal trailer in Texas, even in November, the cupcake was a bit warmer than you want one to be with cream cheese frosting. Second, while I like the temperature contrast of cool whipped cream, the injection created grave instability with the structure of the cupcake - the top was practically blasted off. Ultimately the whipped cream is a gimmick, unnecessary with an A-list cupcake.

Last on the trip was Sugar Mama's Bakeshop. A small place with an appealing selection. On the dreaded refrigeration issue, they put their cream-cheese-frosted cakes in refrigeration, but not the buttercream ones. I had the lemon (buttercream) cupcake:

Good stuff, in fact I went back here on Monday to fly some of their product back to Seattle, but... CLOSED Mondays.


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Anonymous said...

At sweetish hill, they make their cupcakes using REAL butter and REAL cream cheese. Not the nasty icing from a bucket or crisco rich icings that most places use.Yes they are refridgerated. Duh, I'm sure you don't want to get food poisening. The people there let you know to let the cupcake come to room temperature before eating it. Try it that way next time you visit. You will be glad you did!