Have you noticed all of the cupcakes stores, workshops and books out there? It seems everywhere you look there is a cupcake in a shop window, a new published book on how to make the best cupcakes or fancy molds and utensils for sale to help you make them! Is this a cupcake revolution, a trend or is it here to stay?
Time will tell, but for the moment a cupcake madness is certainly installed.
While some of you may be more familiar with muffins, cupcakes, which are also baked in muffin pans, always bake flat and are covered with cream cheese or buttercream toppings. Cupcakes (names fairy cakes in the UK and patty cakes in Australia) are not new at all! The first entry in a cookbook was in 1796!
But you may wonder why it was called cupcake? It took its name from the cup in which it was baked in.
The trend really started in the 1990’s in the United States and even more in 2000 thanks to the HBO episode of “Sex in the City” when Carrie Bradshaw and Miranda started eating cupcakes in front of the Magnolia Bakery in New York City. For those who remember it, it was during the 5th episode of the third season.
Since numerous cupcakeries opened in the United States like Crumbs Bake Shop (started in 2003 in New York) and Georgetown Cupcake, which is known to have sold 5000 in a day when it opened in 2005!
On the other side of the Atlantic in Paris you can eat delicious cupcakes at Sugar Daze and in London at the Hummingbird bakery.
More and more fascinated by these cute little cakes, I met with two young ladies in Zurich, Switzerland, who are in the cupcake business. They are Melanie Jones from Cupcake Affair and Michelle Burke from Michelles Cupcakes. Both are motivated with a deep wish to succeed with their cupcakes.
While the two both fell in love with cupcakes in the 2000’s during visits to London and eating cupcakes,neither of them had a passion for baking until the interest in cupcakes started.
How is the cupcake business in Switzerland doing? Melanie Jones told me “it is new, but full into it”. She is not worried about the future, but stays in the moment and is ready to take the challenge if the trend changes.
Since her trip to London in 2007 she only had one thing in mind to open her own shop, selling cupcakes, cakes, she describes as “the elegant sister of the muffins!” In 2011 with a degree in Hotel Management, Melanie opened a shop in Zurich. Since this year she also has cupcakes in the Maags shop in Bern.
Today Mrs Jones works very hard in her Zurich shop with her full time employee Nicole and once a week she travels to Bern. When the shop opened there on February 14th it is known to have sold 1500 cupcakes in just a few hours. People lined up all day for 2 months straight to buy her cupcakes!
“But today it is more manageable,” she shared with a bit of a relief!
Melanie prepares her cupcakes only with cream cheese topping because buttercream gets hard she said. I highly recommend the Caramel Fleur de Sel made with chai tea and Marylin Monroe, a chocolate cupcake with raspberry. Delicious!
When walking into her shop or visiting her webpage, you will notice the romantic names she picked for her creations, like Romeo & Juliette, Passionata, Red Velvet and Dark Passion. She revealed that some names were suggested by her Facebook fans. For parties she can make various themes like Angry Bird, Hello Kitty, Spiderman cupcakes and many more.
She created all of the basis recipes of her cupcakes, which are baked daily not far from her shop in Zurich. She offers mini and big cupcakes. She has 6 mini flavours with 1 weekly change and 6 flavours for the big ones with 1 change daily.
Her wish is to expand to other locations in the German part of Switzerland and to stay focus on the cupcakes. “If you always have high quality product, you don’t have too worry too much,” she said.
Come back tomorrow for our second part….