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The Canary on the Cupcake

April 27, 2016

Oreos. What’s not to love? I hear they are milk’s favorite cookie. And who could possibly ever argue with milk? I mean, when was the last time milk steered you wrong? Don’t answer that last one. I really don’t want to know.

But everyone has their favorite junk foods. I like those gross buffalo chicken flavored pretzels. Life is short. Our joys are fleeting. And I’m not going to begrudge you your guilty pleasure of sucking down a pack of Oreos washed down with icy cold milk. Or maybe you crush them up and use those shards of cookie and sweetened palm oil as an ice cream topping. It matters little to me. Eat up.

What I’m concerned about today is what happens in professional kitchens and bakeries. Because there seems to be less of a focus these days on from-scratch production. And sometimes the evidence is presenting as the crowning glory of the dish.

Case in point: The Oreo Cupcake.

Let’s say you are a quality bakery, and most bakeries, if you ask, will say that they are. After all, who would want to say they are a substandard bakery? But quality comes in many forms. For me, quality starts in a bakery’s ingredients.

It’s amazing that quality bakeries still make cupcakes. But you have to satisfy the market. That’s a fight for another day. But good cupcakes will start from good flour, good eggs, good butter, real sugar, and maybe a bit of good vanilla. They are also generally topped with a good buttercream which is simply good butter, good sugar, and whatever quality ingredients you want to use for flavor.

It’s not much harder to make cupcakes the right way instead of the easy way.

But why would you take your hand crafted morsel of goodness and top it with some kind of industrially produced confection? It doesn’t make any sense. There was probably a reason you didn’t put high fructose corn syrup and artificial vanilla flavor in your cupcakes.

Oh yeah. That’s right. They’re not food.

Perhaps even one of the more infuriating parts of all this is that the junk that’s put on the top of the cupcakes typically turns into a soggy mess. Sure, maybe it’s fun or whimsical to look at, and the Peep-crowned cupcake in the case might capture your eye. But it’s not going to taste good. That’s almost a guarantee.

I don’t care if it’s an Oreo, a Peep, a pretzel, a Hershey’s Kiss, or a Reese’s peanut butter cup. If it’s not something you made from scratch, it shouldn’t be on your scratch-made product. That is, if you want to be considered a quality bakery.

There are going to be all kinds of industrial and institutional bakeries, and those are fine too. They produce a lot of food, and use mixes and other pre-made ingredients to cut corners. Supermarket cupcakes are fine for kids, and to bring to school functions. Everything has a time and a place. Well, almost everything. I’m still trying to figure out why Dunkin’ Donuts exists. But that’s another rant for another day.

Don’t forget, tomorrow is the big day to join me for lunch at Ama Cocina. 50% of your bill will go to help support the Alliance for Positive Health, which uses this annual fundraiser to raise money and awareness of the work it does in the community. I’ll be there from 11a-2p with literally hundreds of Yelp tattoos for those who check in on the mobile app. So come down, have some street corn, and maybe a taco or two.

Hope to see you there.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2016 10:32 am

    APPLAUD !!!!!!! Next up: Soup in a bag. Why? WHy? WHY????

  2. Laura K. permalink
    April 27, 2016 3:57 pm

    My rant: recipes that say “only 3 ingredients!!” and one of those is a box of cake mix or a package of instant pudding.

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