It is quite clear, that I’m willing to go to great lengths in the search for a perfect cupcake, a simply well-made cupcake can be a much more satisfying dessert than so many overwrought sweets out there.
Which brings us to the Seattle area, we now feature three main contenders for cupcake supremacy that I’ve tried, four if you include Tacoma. And so below, I rank them with notes.
1. Trophy Cupcakes – Wallingford/University Village, Seattle
Previously the new kid on the block, their attention to detail shows in the complexity of their flavors and consistent quality. I want a cupcake that is better than I can readily produce myself and Trophy delivers every time.
2. hello, cupcake – Tacoma
I’ve only had one of their cupcakes (red velvet), so it is perhaps unfair that they’ve ended up at #2, but the cake I did have lacked the problems I have with both Royale and Yellow Leaf. So they win by not sucking? As a red velvet cake it was appropriately shockingly red, it had the right hint of chocolate, and a light but flavorful cream cheese frosting.
3. Cupcake Royale – West Seattle/Ballard/Madrona/Capitol Hill, Seattle
I’ve had my best luck with Royale when ordering their special cakes. Otherwise they’re known universally all over town for being dry. Recent promotions suggest they’re making a “moister” cake, I’ll have to check it out when their Cap Hill store opens this month. Also, most of their flavors seem to be variations of their chocolate or vanilla cakes with different frostings. Minus on the creativity there.
4. Yellow Leaf Cupcake – Belltown, Seattle
Every single one of the six cakes I tried here showed the classic signs of over-beaten batter, tunneling. They all featured a really coarse crumb that made me think they’re not using cake flour. And none of the flavors were as refined as I’ve found at either Trophy or Royale, following them on Twitter gives me the (hopefully incorrect impression) that the owners wake up in the morning and go, “What kind of cupcake do I want to make today?” rather than refining and perfecting their flavors. They do have more of that semi-homemade feel to them, but I want a little more sophistication in my cupcakes.