Sweet Scenes from the Ybor Saturday Market Annual Cupcake Festival

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CakeSpy Note: this is a delicious dispatch from Cake Gumshoe Aditi, who blogs at Follow the Red Velvet Road. Do follow her sweet adventures, starting with this one:

Ybor Saturday Market Annual Cupcake Festival 

Saturday, October 18th, 10:00am – 3:00pm

Since I moved to Tampa, I have been looking forward to this day. As a cupcake enthusiast, I have been searching for a festival that honors the glory that is the cupcake. After returning to the U.S. from Uganda, I did a great deal of research, looking for festivals or special days for cupcakes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very successful…until I looked in Tampa.

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Every Saturday, the city of Ybor hosts a Saturday market. Most Saturdays it a market where individuals promote their small businesses by selling items. There is also a fresh produce market and various food stalls. Once a year, in the fall, there is a special themed Saturday Market especially devoted to cupcakes. On this day, cupcake bakeries from all over the Tampa Bay area are welcome to show off their best and most delicious treats.

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This year amateur bakeries were also encouraged to join in the festivities, including a cupcake competition. Bakers were judged on presentation as well as taste.

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At the event this year, there were 17 local bakers competing. The bakers ranged from professional pastry chefs to at home bakers. Most had store-fronts or online order shops, but there were a few who did bake for fun, not necessarily for money.

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The competition was solid this year. The local bakers as well as the home-based first timers were really bringing their A game. Traditional cupcake flavors like red velvet and chocolate peanut butter were present along with some really unique tastes, like chocolate Reese’s cupcakes and a Guinness stout cupcake. Follow the Red Velvet Guest blog postI believe the judges had a hard time this year, but one baker came out on top. “A Piece of Cake” bakery, located on West Hillsborough Avenue, took the first prize for taste. They concocted a Guinness stout chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting garnished with pretzels, caramel, and chocolate drizzle.

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Compared to the other cupcakes, this one was moist, light, and the flavor combinations were delicious. Some of the other hit cupcakes were the Reese’s cupcake from the “Cupcake Mama” bakery located on West Euclid Avenue...

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as well as the Tres Leches cupcake made by “Chocolate Therapy by Jack” which is an online based bakery.


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Overall the experience was great. I got more than my fill of cupcakes and got a taste for the cupcake bakery scene here in Tampa. I look forward to re-visiting the places I enjoyed or missed. There were only a couple that weren’t to my taste, but where there are cupcakes there will be customers!

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Now I anxiously await the 2015 Ybor City cupcake festival.

All photos credits go to Siva Beharry

Read more of Aditi's adventures at The Red Velvet Road, as well as on her tasty instagram feed!

Looking Good: Sweet Treats from Look Cupcake in Seattle

A surprise package from Look Cupcake
Last week, something magical happened: upon returning home to the Cakespy Headquarters after running some errands, we found the most gorgeous box of cupcakes on our porch. Magic!

The parcel was from Seattle's newest custom-order cupcake business, Look Cupcake. Based out of a commercial kitchen on Lower Queen Anne, owner Rhienn Davis takes a unique slant on the cupcake trend by looking inwardly--literally--by specializing in gourmet, filled cupcakes.

Look Cupcake
Our assortment included three flavors: the Feather Boa (coconut cream cake, mojito cheesecake filling, vanilla buttercream, coconut garnish); the La Nina de Chocolate Diablo (spiced mexican chocolate cake with kahlua especial swiss meringue buttercream); and the A Formal Affair (vanilla cake, bittersweet ganache filling and whipped truffle frosting).

These cupcakes were--to put it mildly--crazy delicious. But even more than the fillings, what impressed us was the frosting. Silky, buttery and absolutely luxurious, it seemed different a lot of other cupcake-frostings we've tried. What gives? 

Sweet Surprise from Look Cupcake!Sweet Surprise from Look Cupcake!
Turns out, they were topped with what is known as Swiss Meringue Buttercream (and in the case of the chocolate frosting, ganache whipped in, which only added to that luxurious texture).
So what is Swiss Meringue Buttercream? Happily, Rhienn (aka the "Cliff Clavin of buttercream") was able to explain:


The difference between meringue buttercreams (there are several - Italian, Swiss, French - every European country thinks they know best, apparently,) and regular "American style" buttercream (what we think of as a more "crunchy" frosting) is as follows:


  • American buttercream is just butter (sometimes a little cream cheese) and TONS of powdered sugar mixed together. The result is that intense, super sweet, sometimes a little gritty, frosting. I make a great one with fresh ginger grated into it. Mmmm!
  • (Pick your European country) Meringue buttercream is made by dissolving a relatively small amount of granulated sugar into egg whites, whipping it into a meringue and then adding the butter. They're smoother, creamier and less over the top sweet. They also stand up better in heat, which is awesome for those of us that do seven million weddings in the dog days of summer.
So there you go--unexpected free cupcakes, and an unexpected lesson on various different types of frosting: we'd call that a sweet treat, indeed.
For more information, visit lookcupcake.com.