If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember my post about the bakery tour of Manhattan that my friend Laura does annually for her birthday. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can find it here!)
Considering Laura has been doing this for five years, I’m not sure what took me so long to come up with the idea to do my own version. However, I’m going to do it a little differently. Rather than having one day where a group of friends travel from bakery to bakery in one city, I’m going to visit as many bakeries as I can in the entire STATE! I have no idea how long that’s going to take, but anyone is welcome to join at any point!
Last week, I made my first two stops in a small town called Fuquay-Varina. I met up with fellow dessert-lover Ashley, who took me first to her favorite cupcake shop, CupCakeBite.
CupCakeBite is an adorable cafe-style bakery that gave us our cupcakes (literally) on a silver platter. I couldn’t decide between the Blondie and the flavor of the week, so I decided we had to split them both.
The Blondie was an awesome combination of cookie and cupcake. The texture was a lot like a traditional blondie with a bit more softness. I also associate walnuts with blondies, but this had only chocolate chips. And of course it had icing, as every worthy cupcake does.
There is a “sweet spot” (sorry for the pun) when it comes to icing. It needs to be a complement for the cake without overwhelming, which is not as easy as it sounds. So many cupcake shops fall into the twin traps of too much and too sweet. The Blondie does well on sweetness – the brown sugar buttercream is delicious and well-balanced. However, there could have been more of it. I think that a cupcake should have enough icing to get some in each bite, and the Blondie failed. The Blondie is the cupcake on the right, so you can see that there’s only a small dollop.
The flavor of the week cupcake, which was s’mores, fortunately did not have this problem. There was plenty of the marshmallow frosting to go with every bite, although I did think there was a lack of marshmallow flavor overall in the cupcake. An actual s’more, as every American knows, is composed of three parts – graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow. (Side note – I throw the “American” qualifier in there because over the summer, I witnessed adults from Hong Kong trying s’mores for the first time. They were not fans.)
In my opinion, the focal point of the s’more is the marshmallow, which ideally has been toasted to a beautiful golden color. So I thought that the s’mores cupcake was lacking when it came to the marshmallow aspect. It was a graham cracker and chocolate chip cake filled with chocolate ganache and topped with marshmallow buttercream, but perhaps a chocolate buttercream with marshmallow filling would have worked better. I’m going to have to try that…
When we were done stuffing our faces with cupcakes, we worked off some of the calories by walking the mile and a half to Stick Boy Bakery. After some deliberation, Ashley chose the St. Patrick’s Day themed Irish Cream Cheesecake and I decided on a walnut raisin sticky bun. I also got a quick lesson on the difference between a cinnamon bun and a sticky bun, since Stick Boy has both. Sticky buns are also on my list of things to bake!
I left the cheesecake to Ashley except for one bite, but it was a wonderful bite! When I told the husband about it later, he was sad that the Irish Cream cheesecake didn’t have booze in it (I don’t think), but I don’t think he would have been disappointed by the taste. “Cookies and Cream” would probably be a more accurate name, since it had a chocolate crust and bits of chocolate cookie inside, and the texture was wonderfully creamy, like a good cheesecake should be.
I should specify that a good New York-style cheesecake should be smooth and creamy. An Italian-style cheesecake has a totally different texture, and I think my dad would be disappointed if I didn’t mention that. (Hi Daddy!)
I only managed a few bites of the sticky bun before saving the rest for the next day’s breakfast, but it was difficult to put it down! My only critique is that I would have loved if there were walnuts inside the spirals of the bun in addition to stuck on the outside. Some of my nuts fell off my bun and I couldn’t eat them, which is a terrible waste. I would also replace the raisins with more nuts, but that’s obviously a personal preference.
To round out my bakery experience, I also brought home a ball of pizza dough, which I made for dinner the following night. It’s hard to do a review of this, since the outcome of my pizza had as much to do with me as it did the dough. I admit that I need more practice when it comes to pizza-making, but this was the best one I’ve made so far!
Doesn’t that look delicious? It was! It was four cheese – mozzarella with a blend of asiago, parmesan and fontina. I spread some cornmeal on my pizza stone and worked the dough into an approximate 10-inch circle. I pre-baked the dough for 7 minutes, although I think I could have left it a minute or two longer. The crust puffed up nicely, but the part under the sauce and cheese stayed relatively soft and chewy. That’s what makes me think I could have pre-baked longer, but we liked it anyway!
There it is – my first NC bakery tour! Where should I go next?