cupcake cake-off: Linda’s Bakery vs. Oh What a Cake! Tuesday, Sep 25 2012 

K and I had a cupcake tree at our wedding reception (featuring Cakelove cupcakes), and ever since then, we’ve marked our anniversary by eating cupcakes. We got together with some friends at the dim sum happy hour at Red Pearl, and I decided to surprise people with cupcakes from Linda’s Bakery. One of our friends also surprised us… with cupcakes from Oh What a Cake! on Dobbin. After saving two for later, that still came to twelve cupcakes for five people. We were undeterred. The cupcake cake-off was on!

overhead view of cupcakes

Our selection actually overlapped beautifully, which made us very excited for the cupcake cake-off. From Linda’s Bakery (on the left), we have carrot, red velvet, chocolate with chocolate buttercream, coconut, lemon with raspberry buttercream, and chocolate with raspberry buttercream. There’s also a little box with another red velvet cupcake and an almond cupcake. (We saved a red velvet and the chocolate/raspberry for later.)

From Oh What a Cake!, we have lemon, coconut, almond, carrot, chocolate, and red velvet.

We painstakingly divided each cupcake into five equal slices (I was getting really good at it by the end) and did a flavor-to-flavor comparison. The cupcakes from Oh What a Cake! were unanimously deemed more fluffy and moist, whereas the crumb of Linda’s cupcakes was more on the dry side. (The exception was the carrot cupcakes, which were closer in texture.) More tasters preferred the buttercream of Linda’s cupcakes to the flavored icing on the Oh What a Cake! cupcakes, although this was not unanimous. We joked that in an ideal world, most of us would order nude cupcakes from Oh What a Cake!, and then take them over to Linda’s to get decorated with buttercream frosting.

The flavors were very good. Both bakers seemed to use real carrot for the carrot cakes, but when it came to the almond and coconut cupcakes, the cupcakes from Linda’s had more genuine almond and coconut flavors, whereas the ones from Oh What a Cake! tasted of artificial syrups. Linda’s cupcakes were also much more lavishly decorated, whereas Oh What a Cake! went for a very plain look, sometimes adding a single colored candy on top.

closeup view of cupcakes

In general, the cupcakes were pretty fantastic all around, and we were all very full afterward. It’s great to live in a place where fancy, delicious cupcakes are available at a moment’s notice.

summer CSA, weeks 14-16 Friday, Sep 21 2012 

It’s three CSA updates in one! Observant viewers will note the increasing preponderance of apples in the CSA pickups. Apple season is in full swing, which combined with the cooling temperatures makes me very happy. Apples are great by themselves, but most of the best ways to have apples involve turning on the oven.

Week 14: corn, zucchini, tomatoes, green peppers, Gala and Cortland apples, mushrooms, spinach, eggs, and bread (Breezy Willow challah).

summer CSA, week 14

I thought the presentation of the apples at the CSA pickup site was adorable.

apples at the pickup site

Also, it was a gorgeous day (one of a string of gorgeous days! Isn’t it lovely to be outside this time of year?) and one of their llamas was out lounging in the sun.

lounging llama

(with bonus chicken!)

On to week 15: green beans, tomatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, Jonathan and Gala apples, kale, corn, garlic, eggs, and bread (Great Harvest sourdough).

summer CSA, week 15

This week’s pickup was particularly notable in that I’d specifically gone to the farmer’s market the week prior, to pick up sweet potatoes, which I wanted to mash for the kid. If only I’d waited a week to introduce sweet potato, I would have had plenty. Oh well, there are worse problems in the world than “too many sweet potatoes”.

Week 16 (this week): spinach, corn, eggplant, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious apples, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs, and bread (Great Harvest parmesan sourdough).

summer CSA, week 16

We are now absolutely swimming in corn as I still haven’t gotten around to using up the corn from last week. I’m going to blanch it, cut the kernels off, and freeze them for use in the winter. I love the sweet taste of summer corn during the cold winter months.

summer CSA, weeks 12 and 13 Thursday, Sep 6 2012 

Peach season is drawing to a close, and apple season is starting up. In a typical fit of end-of-season overindulgence, I bought a giant batch of peaches from the Oakland Mills farmer’s market on Sunday. I’m planning peach crumble, peach chutney for pork chops, and pureed stewed peaches for the kid. Mmm, peaches.

Anyway, back to the CSA. Week 12 marks the halfway point in the program, and I feel fortunate that although the weather has not exactly been ideal, the harvest is still bountiful. We got corn, mushrooms, apples, plums, peppers, tomatoes, bread (sourdough), and yogurt instead of eggs. I traded beets for kale. Frankly, I’m kind of tired of beets, and besides, I had a hankering for colcannon.

summer CSA, week 12

Week 13 brought us corn, green beans, onions, apples, tomatoes, garlic, eggs, and bread (lavender foccaccia). I traded even more beets for extra potatoes (colcannon again!). There’s so much corn now that I’m cutting it off the cob and freezing it for the winter.

summer CSA, week 13

The bread was ok, but I probably won’t get it again. I’m not sure about the taste of lavender in my food; to me, it’s more of a perfume ingredient. Breezy Willow is touting their new honey lavender ice cream. I’m kind of dubious about that as well.

With the recent glut of apples, I’ve been making applesauce for the kid. He loves it. Who wouldn’t? Making applesauce is so easy it’s almost easier than buying it in stores — simply peel and core the apples, cut them into chunks, and put them in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until they get soft and mushy. That’s it. No need to add water, sugar, or cinnamon (unless you want to). I give it a little extra mashing for the kid, since he doesn’t
have teeth yet, but adults can just eat as is. Makes the house smell amazing, too. I even forgot about it and took a nap, leaving it simmering gently on the stove for an hour or two, and all it did was get an even sweeter, deeper flavor. You can’t lose with applesauce.