These days whenever a community of interest wants to formulate solutions to a problem, they often form "working groups" to pool knowledge, opinion, and innovative approaches. I would like to put forth a working group of my own in this Chowhound forum, to address what I see as a very persistent problem - bad cupcake.
By "bad cupcakes", I don't just mean stores that sell bad-tasting cupcakes. I mean every aspect of bad cupcakes - the texture, the color, the flavor combinations, the price, etc.
I'm wondering if we can put aside the opinions about the businesses that make the cupcakes (because I know of none that do it perfectly) and concentrate on what constitutes a good...nay...a GREAT cupcake. I'm proposing that we discuss our opinions on the attributes that make a great cupcake, truly great. I know that there are a lot of talented foodies who much have great ideas. I want to hear them!
Yes, I know that this seems like a subject that is "an inch deep and a mile wide", but I'd like to see where it goes....so here it goes.
Opening Question: What constitutes good cake in a cupcake?
I'll offer my opinion here. Too many places try to capitalize on the concept of "made from scratch". My response is "So, what?!" Mixing raw ingredients doesn't necessarily make cake any fresher, tastier, or texturally better. One of the things that drives me crazy about places like CakeLove is the this type of claim. I've had many "scratch" cupcakes that were obviously over-mixed, resulting in gummy, glutinous, chewy cake.
My idea of good cake is a soft, delicate, fine-to-medium crumb. A cake that shows big bubbles shows the formation of gluten and can never achieve delicate crumb. For all of the flack that box mixes take, they are often formulated to produce this type of texture. (Taste is another issue.)
In my opinion, if a cupcake fails the texture test there is nothing that can salvage it.
OK, folks...let's see if this working group idea has legs! Pour forth!