Bakers Journal

Features Profiles
The finalists


April 1, 2014
By Laura Aiken


Topics

Bakers Journal will be bringing the top three cupcakes in our Great
Chocolate Cupcake contest to Bakery Showcase where a winner will be
determined.

Bakers Journal will be bringing the top three cupcakes in our Great Chocolate Cupcake contest to Bakery Showcase where a winner will be determined. Bakers Journal would like to thank Callebaut, Cinelli Esperia and Mimac Glaze, sponsors of The Great Chocolate Cupcake Contest. The three finalists were narrowed down based on their written entries, which were scored points according to the following criteria: pitch (15), recipe innovation (10), unique twist (5) and marketability (10). Congratulations to the finalists!


nanaimo-cupcakes 
The Nanaimo Brownie Cupcake. Photo: janet somers

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Janet Somers, head baker at The Flour Shoppe in Ottawa

• The Nanaimo Brownie Cupcake


1. Why did you become a baker?

Baking has always been a part of my life. Growing up, I could often be found in the kitchen with my mom, helping her with anything from rolling and cutting out cookies to kneading and braiding bread dough. While away from home at university, I was always the go-to for making a birthday cake or satisfying a craving for late night chocolate chip cookies! It was after those four years of supplying homemade treats to friends and roommates that I realized how rewarding it felt to make someone smile or brighten someone’s day with something I had made. What was once just a fun hobby suddenly became something I wanted to do professionally, so I enrolled in baking and pastry school at George Brown College and have been working in the industry ever since.  


2. What makes you passionate about cupcakes?

I am passionate about cupcakes because I like a challenge. Finding the perfect balance of flavours and textures does not always come easy, but I am always ready to try and pack as much flair as I can into each bite.


3. What is your favourite type of chocolate and why?

My favourite type of chocolate is the ever-controversial white chocolate. Despite lacking cocoa solids, white chocolate certainly does not lack flavour. There definitely is good quality white chocolate out there and it can have the same kind of sweet and creamy flavour that milk chocolate is loved for. My favourite thing to do with white chocolate is slow roast it in the oven until it starts to caramelize. Roasting the chocolate opens up a whole new dimension of rich flavours that I think even the most adamant white chocolate hater would appreciate.


4. What will be the next trend in cupcake flavours?

I think the next trend in cupcake flavours will be a resurgence of retro classics and play on nostalgia. It has been said for years now that cupcakes are just a trend and this or that “is the new cupcake.” However, people have been enjoying cupcakes for decades and even if the hype of the stand-alone cupcake shop has cooled down, we are going to see people returning to their favourites. The vanilla confetti cupcakes they had at a childhood birthday party or the chocolate cupcakes they made with mom for the school bake sale; it’s these familiar and comforting flavours that bring people back again and again.


5. Why should your cupcake win the Bakers Journal Great Chocolate Cupcake Contest?

While it strays from the classic interpretation of our cake based cupcakes, the Nanaimo Brownie demonstrates what we consider our greatest challenge at The Flour Shoppe… to continually take the cupcake to another level! Despite its small size, the greatest thing about cupcakes is that they can be anything they want to be!  A classic square, candy bar, your favourite ice-cream, many of our favourite cupcakes are familiar flavours put into new packages.  The Nanaimo Brownie should be chosen as the Greatest Chocolate Cupcake because not only is it a delicious take on a Canadian favourite, but it embodies the opportunities that cupcakes present creative bakers!  



 Sarah Allman, pastry chef  
Sarah Allman, pastry chef. Photo: sarah allman


 

Sarah Allman, pastry chef at Bouwa Whee Catering at Diavik Diamond Mine, NWT
• Classic Chocolate Cupcake


1. Why did you become a pastry chef?

When I was eight, I made my first cake, and it was good. I revelled in the praise I received and I won’t lie, it made me feel great that I was good at something.


2. What makes you passionate about cupcakes?

Who isn’t? I mean, they are perfect little cakes with endless flavour possibilities.


3. What is your favourite type of chocolate and why?

Milk chocolate is my favourite! OK, all you purists who feel it’s a disgrace to like anything less then 70 per cent pure chocolate, don’t go hatin’ now. I like what I like. I have a serious sweet tooth, so if it’s bitter it’s not for me.


4. What will be the next trend in cupcake flavours?

This is where I become a purist and believe in keeping it simple. Chocolate and vanilla made with quality ingredients will always win my heart. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if I saw some deep fried hybrid of a cupcake and a doughnut. Start trending #cupnuts anyone?


5. Why should your cupcake win the Bakers Journal Great Chocolate Cupcake contest?

My cupcakes are classically wonderful: moist and rich and made with quality ingredients. They simply put a smile on your face when you eat them, and isn’t that the best thing about a cupcake?



 Oh! My Gosh Ganache! Cupcake 
Oh! My Gosh Ganache! Cupcake. Photo: Laura Maclean


 

Laura MacLean, owner and chef at Omg! Cupcakes, Grande Prairie, Alta.
• Oh! My Gosh Ganache! Cupcake


1. Why did you become a baker/pastry chef?

My interest in baking began with my first Easy Bake Oven and growing up with a mom who loved to bake and always had a homemade dessert at each meal. My mom recognized that interest and for Christmas one year bought me a beginner cake decorating kit. Cake decorating and baking developed into a hobby as a teenager and continued throughout my life. I settled into an accounting and small business consulting career, but at age 46 (seven years ago), without hesitation and with the support of my family, I enrolled in culinary school. My passion remained with baking so I furthered my education at the Wilton school in Chicago and mastered my skills in cake decorating. I haven’t looked back since the grand opening of Omg! Cupcakes on Valentine’s Day in 2010.


2. What makes you passionate about cupcakes?

I am passionate about cupcakes for SO many reasons. Primarily because of the freedom for fun and creativity that they allow their creator! They are deliciously fun and come in a multitude of delicious flavours ranging from traditional chocolate to Guinness chocolate and Baileys Buttercream.

The ideas are endless with cupcakes! The icing designs and flavours are limited only by your imagination and whimsical names like our Go Banana, Dirty Blonde or Strawberry Lovealicious only enhance the buying experience for our customers. I love cupcakes because it was one of the first things I learned to bake. For many of us, they remind us of our childhood because it is a treat we have all grown up with or baked with our moms.

They are less expensive and less indulgent than a whole cake and buying a variety of cupcakes allows everyone to choose their favourite flavours. They are convenient to eat and easy to transport.

Cupcakes are an old fashioned treat that generations of kids have enjoyed, but they’re not just for kids anymore. Our customers range in age and are both men and women. People celebrate all year long so unlike ice cream, they are non-seasonal, which is a great benefit as a business owner. They really are timeless because they can be designed to suite any occasion people want to celebrate. 


3. What is your favourite type of chocolate and why?

My favourite type of chocolate is definitely dark chocolate. I have always found it to have a deeper, richer chocolate flavour than milk chocolate, especially when we use it in our chocolate ganache. When we dip our cupcakes in dark chocolate, the flavour stands out much more than with milk and provides a deep, dark, shiny coating, which makes the cupcakes look fantastic!  I find it easier to work with as well.


4. What will be the next trend in cupcake flavours?

Cupcakes are definitely trendy and I’ve seen more savoury flavours appear over the years, although they are not my personal preference. Sweet and salty has been growing in popularity, with flavours like Salted Caramel. Our Guinness Beer and Bacon is always a favourite when we bring it back each Father’s Day.  

Spicy is also trendy with flavours like Frank’s Red Hot or Mexican Chili Chocolate, which have yet to hit the menu at Omg! I also think buttercream is back! Yay! Fondant topped cupcakes were trendy and very pretty, but also extremely time consuming and therefore expensive. Cupcakes should taste as good as they look and fondant toppers rarely get eaten. In my opinion, it is primarily about the quality and taste, and buttercream is just better!


5. Why should your cupcake win the Bakers Journal Great Chocolate Cupcake contest?

Our cupcake should win because, for many reasons, it really is a special cupcake. It not only looks fantastic, but more importantly, it tastes fantastic and has a history for me, like many great recipes do! It was a family favourite recipe growing up and so has much sentimental value. To this day we still all bake it and continue to call it Laraine’s chocolate cake, which was my mom’s best friend’s recipe.  It’s one of those recipe cards you have that you can barely read because it’s covered in chocolate and grease because it’s been used so many times. It was the first cupcake I just knew, I had to have on the Omg! menu, and one that I am very proud to have entered and shared in the competition. 

The chocolate cake itself is extremely moist and after being hand dipped in a silky smooth, dark chocolate ganache, it is like the moisture is sealed in. The ganache coating gives the cupcake a beautiful shine and provides a wonderful base for the buttercream frosting without making it too sweet, but at the same time adding an intense chocolate flavour.

Our buttercream frosting that tops this cupcake really is the best! It’s made with the best ingredients. Real butter and heavy cream! We whip it, and whip it good, so the buttercream is light and fluffy and melts in your mouth. 

This cupcake is our signature flavour and top selling cupcake since opening three years ago. It is a water-based cake which is affordable, and the recipe is very straight forward and simple to make using basic ingredients we all have in our kitchen.


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