When you arrive upon this location it is a sweet little shop, literally. It almost looks like something that would appear in a child’s classic book about in your average fairy tale. One side is the actually bakery and the other side is the teaching kitchen where classes are held. There are fliers in the window advertising which courses are come up next. On the day of my visit that side is dark. The only light I see is coming from the bakery, which also happens to be providing the distinct sweet yet subtle aroma, that draws me in. That and it was on my agenda.
I had just come from Pommes Frites (see previous blog) and that one block I walked felt like an eternity. Although I was hot, tired, and full, I was still very much looking forward to this visit. To my delight there is a wooden bench outside of the shop. As I paused for a moments rest I also get revitalized for my new mission. I know that I am too full to eat any cupcakes right at this moment so I know I will be bringing them home with me.
Once I walked in, I am overwhelmed immediately. Again this too is a small space but it is so properly organized and decorated that it feels even bigger than it is. There is no one else in there but my group and again it is decision time. There are only three kinds of cake flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and banana. However, there are a variety of frostings choices. There were seasonal choices in addition to their usual selections. It was all so dizzying. I didn’t know where to begin. The only one I knew I had to get for sure was a banana cupcake with chocolate frosting. After hearing Ted Allen describe how he loved this cupcake in the episode, “The Classics” on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, he made me crave it. I had to know why out of all the places he could eat especially in N.Y.C. this was the best. Before I tell you why he loved it so, I think I should share my cupcake history.
As I am not a real sweet eater, I don’t normally eat many cupcakes or cakes of any kind very often. The part I like the least is the frosting. If the frosting is overly thick or sweet that really turns me off. My taste buds crave salt so biting into a chuck of sweet frosting is like a nightmare to me. Of all of the things I could eat, that is nowhere on my list. In order for me to eat a sweet it has to be special. It has to one of kind to even get me interested enough to want to try it. Over these last few years I feel like the cupcake has had a rebirth of sorts. There are numerous television shows with that name and concept of who can bake the best. People are at war at it for heavens sake.
As with most products I do not believe the hype. Especially in franchises, safe to say the most immediate exception that floats to my brain is Starbucks. But I have tried both Magnolia and Crumbs to be a good sport. I have to say I don’t get it.
Magnolia was the worst. There were way too thick and heavy and the flavors were not at all tempting. They are the kind of thing you would eat if they were in front of you at a party but not the kind of thing you would go out of your way for. I don’t know why people flock there.
As for Crumbs, this too is overrated in my view. Yes they have more original flavor choices and they are cute and look good in the plastic containers you buy. But that’s about it. Once again the frosting is too much and still feels like Duncan Hines would have done a better job for half the price.
Since I write about food and seek out what I find unique, my first real happy experience with cupcakes came from a visit in 2010 when I went to Georgetown Cupcakes. The rest as they say is history.
A pair of sisters started Georgetown Cupcakes in 2008 after they had fled their corporate jobs to pursue their passion. They recently had a show on TLC called “DC Cupcakes” (see I told you there were too many cupcakes shows on television). Their Washington D.C. location had become so popular they now also have a brand new shop in New York City, as well as several other locations. They ship around the nation which works out for me too. They make great gifts and were certainly worth the almost two hour wait when I visited. They were the first time I had a cupcake that was the right size, texture, and flavor. They have seasonal and special flavors daily and they are so incredibly good you can eat them a week later and they still taste fresh.
As far as Mr. Allen goes, he is a man I pay close attention to. So far all of his suggestions have been correct. The last one I tried was a hot dog stand in Chicago called “The Weiner’s Circle”. When I got there it didn’t look like much but boy oh boy is that man a genius. To this day it’s the best hot dog I have ever eaten. We will talk more about Chicago at another time.
Now that I know I can trust his recommendations and have had Butter Lane on the brain and on my to do list since 2011 (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012_04_01_archive.html) it was time to cross it off. So now I as I was standing in that precious little shop and had I ordered my banana and chocolate frosted cupcake, what is the next flavor to get?
I decide ultimately to get six cupcakes. Besides the aforementioned I purchased: vanilla with coconut frosting, vanilla with pistachio frosting, chocolate with peanut butter frosting, and two of the days specials which were chocolate with cookie dough piece’s inside and cookie dough frosting. I could not pass that special up! There are so many great combinations you can make and when we left my friends and I didn’t have two the same. Figures on the things we aren’t sharing that is when we go rogue.
My family seems to have lucked out the most from my food packed outing. Since I was bringing the cupcakes home there was some for everyone to try out. I usually try to share goodies with as many people as possible. This way I can get feedback as well as some self-control.
After many hours of this long day I was finally at home and ready to take my first bite. I closed my eyes and sunk my teeth in. I could hear Ted Allen’s words like he was an angel sitting on my shoulder. He words rang true. The cupcake was tender and sweet. I tried the vanilla and pistachio first. But it didn’t stop there. I started cutting up all of the cupcakes so that I could try a piece of each one to see what I liked best. This was the wisest decision of all.
My final verdict is this- Ted Allen and I share the exact same taste in hot dogs and cupcakes. He was right. The banana cupcake is not only something I have never seen in another bakery it was also the most moist, flavorful, delectable cupcake I have ever had. I could have eaten it without any frosting and been happy. It was like a smaller, better version of a banana muffin. I could have eaten of box of those. Don’t get me wrong the others were very tasty but that was the last one I tried and it took the cake. Well I guess the cupcake technically.
My only bakery left to try on my list is Sugar Sweet Sunshine. I have tried their pistachio cupcake once before and thought was in heaven and that was from a friend who had been there two days prior. I cannot even picture what it would be like on the same day.
Butter Lane was on my 2012 to do list for a reason and it should be on yours too.
For Butter Lane Bakery:
For More Cupcakes: