by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
It used to be that cupcakes were made by mom’s for class parties or mass-produced by the Hostess Company. Now, the cupcake has become a specialty niche, with shops specializing in the single-serving-size treats. This month, The Great Food Search has risked life and digestion to bring you samples of the Valley’s variety of micro-cakes.
Gourmet Goodies by Delilah 626 “O” St., Sanger—I’m starting out by cheating, a little bit, because GGBD doesn’t sell cupcakes…yet. They make cupcakes that look really yummy, and you can order cupcakes for catering, but cupcakes won’t officially be in the shop until September. Delilah’s does have handmade candy and treats…and Cake Pops.
Cake Pops—round, straw-topping bundles of fudge-wrapped, chocolate-cakey goodness! Oh, how delovely they are! Not many bites, but each one is scrumptious. Delilah has started the shop slowly, month-by-month adding goodies to the bill of fare…and it’s much better than fair! This is a place to watch.
Aimee’s Vanilla Bean Bakery, 1920 High Street, Selma—I am grateful to the Selma Arts Center for being across the street from AVBB, because reviewing shows at the Arts Center is how I discovered Aimee Wilson’s ability to make magic in a cupcake. This pastry chef makes 65 flavors of cupcakes…so far. She makes cakes, too. Some modern weddings have a two-or-three-tiered cake or two, and then display a variety of cupcakes.
Many AVBB cupcakes are like an old-time Cracker Jack box—there’s a surprise inside: lemon filling, strawberry jam, a baked-in peanut-butter cup. The cakes are moist and rich, and the frosting is spun of the clouds of angels. Everything is made from scratch. It’s one of the best reasons to go to Selma.
Cupcakes Bakery 7063 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno—Tucked into the northeast corner of Cedar and Herndon Avenues, CB is a narrow storefront that hits you with nostalgia: metal signs of the past, distressed steel lawn chairs, music that predates rock-and-roll. Then, you focus on the display cases and the wonders therein: ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls that have exploded out of cupcake tins in rococo glory, strawberry pizza, Fresno State ice cream, cheesecake, and they even have Dewar’s Chews imported from far-off Bakersfield.
My wife and I made this Food Search in one calorie-drenched afternoon. We were battling sugar rush crashdowns by the time we sampled Karen Cook’s wares, so we opted for a half-dozen mini-cupcakes: Red Velvet, German Chocolate, Carrot Cake, Orange, and mini cheesecakes of the Strawberry and the Sour Cream Frosting varieties. The German Chocolate was ‘wunderbar,’ the Red Velvet was sinfully good, the Carrot Cake was an underground movement in itself, the Orange was sunshine-packed, and the cheesecakes defied description. I’m going back to get the full-size versions, just to try the fillings.
Eddie’s Bakery Café 7089 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno—What do you say about a Fresno institution that’s been around since 1939? Hubba-hubba! You walk in the door and say, “Yeah. This is a bakery.” Breads, cookies, cakes…and a breakfast/lunch café, too! The place exudes doughy confidence, and the walls sport the awards that prove it.
This Strawberry Cupcake dwarfed anything we’d seen, yet it wasn’t dry. A dense, intense, super-muffin that capped a day of conspicuous consumption.
Alas!—That was as far as we got. We never made it to the Tower District, where everybody told us to get the Key Lime cupcake at The Frosted Cakery on Wishon. Some day, sigh.
Notes on a day of Cupcakemania—Today, cupcakes are big business, and some of these culinary creators are true artists. This may be a passing fad, but gourmet cupcakes are a fad you can sink your teeth into.