I don’t know how I got here. I never liked baking. I grew up in an Italian family and felt most comfortable and happy cooking in the kitchen with my Mom. I always said to myself, “I hate baking. Too much measuring, too much specificity, too little a margin of error!” To call me mathematically challenged is an understatement. I once struggled with doubling a recipe in college because I had to add fractions. I once made a cake with NO eggs. I once made a Pecan Pie that tasted like a pile of granulated sugar on cardboard. Cooking pasta for 12 college friends? No problem. Baking? No thank you very much. But here I am, a cupcake lady.
It seems the cupcake craze is here to stay, at least in NYC. I have sampled many of the supposed best: Magnolia, Billy’s, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Buttercup, Melissa’s, Sprinkle’s, Crumbs and Butter Lane. So far my favorite is Butter Lane. I have some good things and some not good things to say about the others. Do I have a degree in Pastry Arts? No. Do I know how to do everything? Heck no! What I do know is what tastes good, what looks good. In a recent baking class the teacher said, “What matters is the finished product.” In other words, is it YUMMY?
I don’t like fancy. I don’t like junky, I don’t like 8 million ingredients, I don’t like too sweet, too much frosting… TOO MUCH! When I take a bite of a cupcake I want to be brought back to my childhood. For me, cupcakes conjure up images of fun, playfulness, innocence, simplicity, excitement, a comfy/cozy sense that I am being pampered and taken care of, and that everything is going to be all right… at least for that brief moment. When I carry around my cupcakes in my dorky cupcake caddy, people on the street stare and smile. I nod at them and smile in silent agreement, like we’re both in on the same secret. I think they feel the same way I do. Cupcakes make us happy.