Bakers Journal

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Editor’s Letter: November 2013


November 5, 2013
By Laura Aiken

I didn’t need to venture far into the aisles of Canada’s Baking and
Sweets Show to see that cupcakes are still stars of the treats world.

I didn’t need to venture far into the aisles of Canada’s Baking and
Sweets Show to see that cupcakes are still stars of the treats world.
Doughnuts are rising stars, and pies are a perennial standby, but
cupcakes seem to be simply everywhere. The sheer volume of cupcakes seen
in all directions at the baking and sweets show shouted “viva la
cupcake,” despite predictions of its decline.

In April, the Wall
Street Journal published “Forget Gold, the Gourmet-Cupcake Market is
Crashing” after shares in Crumbs Bake Shop chain, a high-end cupcake
maker, plummeted. The article suggested through various interviews that
the novelty of fancy cupcakes had worn off; their day in the sun was
done. Yet, north of the border, the Globe and Mail ran a similar article
in the same month that interviewed Canadian cupcake makers who were
seeing no signs of a slowdown.

Technomic’s 2013 Canadian Dessert
Consumer Trend Report found that 68 per cent of consumers eat some type
of cake once a month or more and 26 per cent do so once a week or more.
Thirty-eight per cent of these consumers said they make these cakes at
home, 26 per cent buy them freshly prepared from a grocery or other
retail store, and 21 per cent source them from casual- or fine-dining
restaurants at least occasionally. Of those surveyed, 30 per cent said
they would consider ordering a cupcake as a dessert at a restaurant if
it was offered. Younger people showed interest in cupcakes, with 41 per
cent of consumers aged 18 to 44, compared to just 21 per cent of those
aged 45 and older, saying they would consider ordering a cupcake. Also,
more women (35 per cent) than men (24 per cent) said they’d potentially
order a cupcake.

The love affair with cupcakes has spawned a
multitude of incarnations: bite size, filled, fondant covered, 3D,
mancakes, boozy cakes and even cupcakes in ice cream cones. In London, a
cupcake dress by designer Janis Morrison made headlines at the close of
the city’s fashion week. The dress, with a list price of about $1,200,
was inspired by Marie Antoinette and made of 300 purple, pink and red
cupcakes, as reported by MSN. It seems cupcakes have even gone haute
couture.

Bakers have got enterprising with flavours. I’ve heard
of everything from buttermilk-fried chicken to root beer float flavoured
cupcakes. I was intrigued by the French toast and bacon cupcake offered
by Trina’s Cakes at the baking and sweets show. Now that’s what you
call cake for breakfast. However, cupcakes have yet to go
stratospherically strange. I haven’t heard of oyster cupcakes, although I
could actually picture one with a mushroom infusion (although this
still sounds unappealing). I haven’t seen a Bombay curry cupcake, but it
wouldn’t surprise me if it was out there.

Cupcakes are great
vehicle for a marriage of many flavours, and perhaps there are savoury
stones left unturned. Ice cream may provide a model for making a
departure from the sweet that is still a cupcake and not gone muffin.
Ice cream is most popular in sweet flavours, but there are plenty of
savoury ones out there. I once had canola oil sorbet at the The Chefs’
House restaurant, and I must say, it was shockingly delicious.

However,
classic flavours will always be the backbone of the cupcake industry.
Since we can’t imagine a bakery without some variation of chocolate
cupcakes, it’s the perfect fit for the Bakers Journal Great Chocolate
Cupcake Contest, brought to you by our gold sponsor Callebaut, silver
sponsor Cinelli Esperia, and bronze sponsor Mimac Glaze. This isn’t a
decorating contest: this is all about flavour! What can you marry with
chocolate that will delight the senses? Can you deliver it through a
gorgeously textured cake? We want to hear the story behind your best
chocolate cupcake. Keep an eye on www.bakersjournal.com for more
details. We look forward to seeing your best chocolate cupcake recipes.


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