City Desk

No Love for CakeLove

As I mentioned before, I'm brand new to the District. In fact, this is day 8 of my new life on the East Coast. With this new transition comes adjustments to weather (How ridiculous is this weather, people? I'll tell you. It's ridiculous!) and discoveries of fun things to do and great places to spend money on delicious eats. Which brings me to cupcakes.

I casually mentioned to one of my co-workers yesterday that I wished there was a great cupcake place nearby. To my surprise, she told me there were actually a couple bakeries devoted to cupcakes in the city; the closest shop to the office is a mere 15-minute hop over to U Street. After a lengthy discussion about our preferences regarding the tasty treats, I decided I'd try the first bakery this morning.

Enter CakeLove.

The less-than-humble "The CakeLove Story" section of Warren Brown's "About CakeLove" shrine to himself and the play-by-play of his creative "brilliance" was more than enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth, let alone the misspellings, punctuation errors and typos that littered his site. (Note to Mr. Brown: I would be thrilled to tidy up your site. I am a copy editor, after all.) I'm getting dizzy just trying to figure out whether the name of his creation is Cakelove, CakeLove or cakelove. Let's just pick a way to write it and stick with it, OK?

CakeLove seems to just be a glorified Safeway bakery. For one, I couldn't believe my eyes when the person behind the counter wrapped the first cupcake, a raspberry frosting on vanilla concoction, in wax paper. What happened to the idea of using tongs to delicately place a frosted treat into a cardboard box, preferably in little cupcake stands? The folks at this shop definitely have the right idea when it comes to the cute cardboard boxes, but Brown needs to hit up a couple other cupcakeries — yes, I'm making that word up — and see how the treats should be presented. Heck, he should use his Food Network show to pay for the trip!

First stop on the tour: Magnolia Bakery in New York City, made famous on an episode of Sex and the City. It was my first true cupcake experience, and boy was it glorious. I bought enough to take a couple home with me to Seattle, but they didn't even make it off the plane.

Trophy Cupcakes, in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, has great presentation, in addition to amazing frosting, though the cupcakes themselves are a bit hard to stomach. I don't know about you, but my ideal cupcake shouldn't make me feel like I just ate a brick. Those were some dense little cakes.

More recently, I visited Cupcake Royale, in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. Known for its "Legalize frostitution" bumper stickers and shirts, Cupcake Royale comes in a close second in quality to Magnolia Bakery. Its recipe of just-the-right-amount-of-fluff and frosting to (almost) swoon for makes it a top dessert stop on my 2008 Sweets Tour.

CakeLove, though? I'd say skip it. The frosting looks gross (especially at room temperature), the cake is a tad too dense for my palate, and just looking at the chocolate on chocolate treat on my desk makes me want to have a burger and a milkshake to wash down the nasty, cheap Safeway/Costco-like buttercream frosting taste lingering on my tongue.

I hope the next cupcake shop suggestion is far better than this.

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  • IMGoph

    amen....gah to cakelove.

  • Amanda Hess

    cupcake culture is the worst.

  • DcRat

    Cakelove, wanna give it the love, but not so good. This place gets by using marketing, cute name and a TV show, not by good baking.

  • sara.h

    comparing cakelove to Safeway/Costco is insulting... to Safeway and Costco. The cupcakes taste like Passover cakes and they cost like $4 a piece. I've stood at the window watching them make the cakes at 15th and U many times, and i'm always a little surprised to see how dry the cake is.

  • Amanda Hess

    they have a television show? who watches television?

  • Mike DeBonis

    Was it so long ago I wrote this story that no one remembers it?

  • Lisa M

    Try Georgetown Cupcake. It is to die for.

  • creative pandameat

    i have an opinion on cupcakes too.

  • elle

    wow, I'm surprised anyone even recommended CakeLove, you'd like to think your co-workers would know better....

  • annie

    Not everyone needs the wasteful presentation of a little 'cupcake stand' in order to enjoy the cupcake. This cupcake craze seems to be a favoirte topic for elitist write-ups. I hope they find a new subject to bash soon.

  • Leslie in Adams Morgan

    wow! CakeLove (cakelove, Cake Love) used to be good. Or at least the experience was good. Or maybe it was the story that was good ... but today when I went online to see about getting a blueberry cheesecake (I'm not a desert person), I was surprised to see how CakeLove the business has changed. I guess they lost the bakery in the process.

  • Lady in Silver Spring

    I don't know a nice way to put it...Cakelove (or CakeLove..cakelove..whatever!) is TOTALLY overrated! One of my co-workers mentioned this place to me, and made it seem like the greatest bakery in the world. After my visit, I was truly disappointed (and thirsty because the cake was dry). The "cakes from scratch" motto seemed to bother me also-I ALWAYS make my own from scratch. I'll have to find a new place, or just stick to my own, moist cupcakes!

  • Paula

    So glad to know that cupcakes are chic. But who gives a ?:$%^^& about where to buy them in NY or even more randomly, Seattle??? Before I knew just how chic they were, I bought some cupcakes at Cakelove for a party in May. They were admittedly so-so --- dry and slightly tasteless. But the cakes I have had from Cakelove are excellent --- buttery and moist. So I am afraid I cannot join in on the tag-team-trashup of Cakelove at this particular juncture.

  • mary

    I have not had the pleasure of going to the CakeLove Bakery so I have used his (Warren Brown's) recipe's from his CakeLove Cookbook to make my own. Most of his cakes I really love and they are made with the finest ingredients. My neighbors are in LOVE with the CakeLove cakes and can't wait for me to try the next one. I have made 10 different cakes so far. The Vanilla pound cake with all the background flavors of brandy is heavenly.

  • Nicole

    The BEST cupcakes are at Just Cakes in Bethesda. They not only look pretty but taste amazing. Actually all of their pastries taste fantastic.

  • uniongal

    I loved Cakelove, but that feels like ages ago, before they moved across the street. They were fluffier and although it was still butter cream frosting, it was also fluffier. And their cakes were just fabulous. But the last two times were disappointing. Because of the publicity and the show, people who come from out of town always want to try it. Next time, I'm taking them to sticky fingers in Columbia Heights. Their sweet treats are really yummy, especially the cinnamon rolls and those chocolate with Peanut butter, mmm, makes me want to go up there right now and get some.

  • deb schepleng

    omg....$41.34 for a dozen cupcakes pushed inside a cardboard box wrapped in wax paper..CakeLove we visited at Canton in Baltimore..we were the only people in the place 4:00pm on a Friday (should have got the hint) Who in the world pays this for a dozen CUPCAKES? My huspand had no idea and got sucked in....all I have to say is Warren Brown you also need to work on your help..the guy that waited on us was very rude...very disapointing

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