There is nothing better than a batch of homemade cupcakes, but a dozen or so from a favorite bakery can come in at a close second – and can actually take the first place spot for those who don’t bake. Cupcake shops are still more popular than ever (especially here in LA), but that doesn’t mean that you can find one as easily as you might find a Starbucks. The Wall Street Journal’s Cranky Consumer column, which rates mail-order products, took on the oh-so-difficult task of taste-testing a variety of mail order cupcakes that promise to deliver a gourmet bakery-quality cupcake to your door.
They compared cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake, Dean & Deluca and Godiva, all of which came via overnight shopping with cupcakes frozen for freshness, as well as cupcakes from Crumbs, a bakery which had a nearby NYC location and was able to deliver locally(although they ship overnight, as well). They compared these cakes to a batch of cupcakes made with a cake mix and looked for both flavor and freshness in the finished cake.
Dean & Deluca’s cupcakes were good, but a little on the dry side. Godiva’s cupcakes were rich and brownie-like, but were closer to being brownies than cupcakes. Their packaging was elaborate, while D&D’s had been simple. The Crumbs cupcakes were delivered fresh, unlike the others, but put some testers off by going way over the top with frosting and toppings. The Georgetown Cupcake cupcakes were the tastiest of the bunch, but still a little over-the-top with the icing-to-cake ratio. Georgetown won the taste test hands down, though, with cupcakes that looked and tasted good.
The biggest downside to ordering gourmet cupcakes is the price: the cheapest, from Georgetown Cupcake turned out to be $4.58 per cucpake and the most expensive, from Godiva, were $9.35 per cupcake! That really makes the cake mix, at $2.99 per box, or a batch of from-scratch cupcakes look like a good deal. What makes them an even better deal is that the taste testers said that the cake mix cupcakes might have won the taste test if they hadn’t been overbaked by the staff member who made them.
I can’t say that putting overbaked cake-mix cupcakes against gourmet bakery cakes is a very fair comparison, but since the cake mix cakes came out with good reviews (although some didn’t like the box flavor), I suppose that it worked out in the end. It is pretty clear that going out to a local bakery is the best way to get bakery-fresh cupcakes with only a slightly inflated price tag. This little test also demonstrates that it is a better idea – both in terms of price and freshness – to bake cupcakes yourself instead of having them delivered.