August Cupcake Throwdown: Trophy vs. Royale

10Aug09

cupcake cartoonWho needs a Superbowl when you can create a cupcake battle between two giant masters of their crafts! This month the Fatties take local bakeries Trophy Cupcake, winner of 2008 Citysearch Best Bakery in Seattle, and throws them into a death cage match with the big guns over at Cupcake Royale, voted Best Cupcake by Seattle Magazine in 2009. While they’ve both captured legitimate prizes, awards and been selected as notorious winners for their sumptuous tiny cakes, the real Fatties have always been torn between who we love more. So this month we’re pitting two seasonal lemon-berry favs to face each other one on one and battle to the end.

trophy rasp lemonIn this corner… weighing in at $3.50 is Trophy’s Lemon Strawberry cupcake. This is a lemon butter cake topped with rich pink strawberry buttercream frosting. The cake could use a bigger lemon infusion for a more intensely citrus bite, which can be done by adding in frozen lemonade concentrate or more fresh lemon zest. The real winner here is the frosting. It was so joyously bright pink, both visually and in flavour, we had suspicions about a possible secret ingredient (is that you strawberry Jell-o?) which could be the reason for this amped up buttercream. Whatever it was, it delivered and I’d like to encourage the kids at Trophy to consider making this into a frosting shot.

cupcake royale rasp lemonadeAnd waiting in the opposite corner we find the competition poised to attack… tipping the scales at a mere $2.75 is Royale’s Raspberry Lemonade cupcake. The base is a white cake featuring a few lonely local organic raspberries. My cupcake maybe had three berries, but again I see room for improvement. I’d suggest adding more raspberries or a swirl of jam to the cake to ensure that each bite is given its proper portion of berry blast. This cake is then topped with a lemon cream cheese frosting along with a festive sprinkling of white and pink dots. And while the glossy Glamor Shots on the CR website pictured a cupcake tippy topped with a fresh, plump raspberry, there wasn’t a single berry propped on any cake in that case. It is possible that a raspberry would be a bad resident perched to live up-top a cupcake – bleeding a trail of fruity ooze into the frosting, but since I’d already fallen in love with the online version when I discovered the advert on their site, this vacancy was notably disappointing. Being lured in with false profile photos? I think we’ve dated this cupcake in the past. Bad play Royale; we expect more from a good neighbourhood Ballard boy.

So who’s the winner? The Fatties are, of course, since we got to devour both of these tasty treats during yet another perfectly delightful summer day in Seattle. (Need a reason to eat a cupcake? We broke Earth, people. What other reason could there be for such an insane heat wave? You know our thoughts – might as well fat it up while we still have a planet to live on.) Back to the story… so if I had to choose just one winner… (and I think that was the point) it’s you Cupcake Royale. Between price, freshness, cake and frosting, it was the fresh raspberries that won me over. I can only hope that we’ll see a peach inspired cupcake creation before the sun disappears for the remainder of the year.

On a final note, I think these bakeries have enjoyed some good times during the last couple years as cupcakes rode the trendy train around town, even prompting sales lifts for plastic cupcake toppers and home-spun cupcake screen-printed t-shirts. But as this trend winds down, and even the most culinary-challenged people realize that cupcakes are quite easy to whip up at home (or for the un-inclined, you can buy cupcakes twice the size for 1/3 the price at Costco) it will take a mix of truly inspired creativity and unique flavour combos to keep the guests returning for more. Whatever road is taken, the Fatties will be back for every cake battle, ready to stick our fingers in every dollup of frosting just to keep you informed as to which bakery is really going to win this cupcake war.

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