Teacake Cupcakes

Teacake Bake Shop cupcakes. Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with dulce de leche frosting in foreground.

As with politics, when you have two opposing viewpoints, you listen intently, weighing both sides to form your own opinion.

Call this then the politics of cupcakes.

When my sis-in-law Jennifer urged me to try the cupcakes at Teacake Bake Shop, I was eager to do so, especially when she heard my teeth were practically disintegrating from all those achingly sweet frosting bombs at so many other bakeries.

But when Single Guy Chef got wind of that recommendation, he cautioned me that he had found Teacake’s cupcakes just so-so.

Hmmmm, hmmm, I thought.

So what was a Food Gal to do except try some for herself, right? So recently, my hubby and I made our way to the Emeryville location (Teacake also has branches in Corte Madera and Lafayette). Each day, about nine or so different cupcakes are available.

We toted home a Pink Velvet with cream cheese frosting, a Chocolate Sour Cream with dulce de leche buttercream, and a Peanut Butter with peanut butter buttercream.

The cupcakes ($3 each) are pretty, decorated simply with a clean, modern sensibility. I took a bite of the Pink Velvet. My sis-in-law was correct that the frosting was not overly sweet, and actually had a nice tang from the cream cheese. The cake itself was not super strong in cocoa-flavor, and the texture a little dry.

Pink Velvet.

The chocolate cupcake was fudgy tasting, and the frosting was thick, creamy, and tasted dreamily of caramel. But again, the cake was a little on the dry side.

The peanut butter buttercream on the last cupcake tasted like peanut butter, whipped almost straight from the jar. I liked how it tasted of nuts, rather than sugar. But — you guessed it — the cake was a tad dry once again.

Mind you, we did buy the cupcakes toward the end of the day, around 4 p.m. And the bakery stores the cupcakes on baking sheets on open-air shelves, rather than in an enclosed case. Could this be the reason why the cakes tasted tired, and not nearly as moist as they should have been?

In any event, this was definitely a case where I actually liked the frostings better than the cakes, themselves.

So, in this debate — sorry, Jennifer — I’m going to have to give this win to Single Guy Chef.

Peanut Butter.

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  • Beautiful cupcakes! We just read that in the hotel we’ll be staying at in London (going in April) they serve really scrumptious cupcakes with their afternoon tea – I hope they will look as good as these.

  • It’s cup cakes like these that make me love tea parties so much.

  • Sounds like you’re torn. Is further tasting required?

  • LOL, see Food Gal, who knows his cupcakes? 😉 Actually, I don’t mind Teacakes, but I just feel cupcakes that are filled helps deal with the dry cake issue and since Kara’s is the only one I know who has filled cupcakes, then I tend to go there.

    As for just plain ole good cupcakes, I have to say the mini cupcakes at DeLessio Bakery near Zuni Cafe is worth checking out, as well as the mini cupcakes at Bittersweet Cafe (I have to find out who makes them). But when I think of cupcakes that I’ve really enjoyed, I think back to Cupcake Couture. Problem is, they’re in Honolulu! I guess you have to book your ticket now!

  • When the cupcake craze it, it became too difficult to find a good good. They do exist, but you have to weed through all the spots. A dry cake can ruin the entire experience!

  • Argh! Need to get my Red Velvet Cupcake fix from Sugar, Butter, Flour again! Oh, and they also have filled cupcakes. Yum!

  • Great post! Teacake cupcakes are very cute and pretty…. I really like the cupcakes at Ritual Cafe in SF…I’m not sure who makes them or if they are even still there but they were to die for! Pistachio cupcake with rosewater and cardamom buttercream. MMmmm.

  • Those photos are lovely! What kind of camera are you using? Mine is woefully inadequate for taking food photos. What’s your secret?

  • These cupcakes are lovely – too bad that the cakes themselves were not quite up to par. But then again, as far as I’m concerned, it’s always been about the frosting!

  • I have also found their cupcakes to be just so-so. But I think their cookies are excellent and worth the trip. I can’t believe you didn’t try any while there. I used to work close by and was a frequent visitor for the cookies and now that I am farther away, I miss them. I was particularly fond of the pecan praline.

  • Janet: I confess I had tunnel vision at Teacake Bake Shop. I was on a mission to try the cupcakes, so that’s all I tried. Good to know that the cookies are worth a return visit.

    Single Guy Chef: You will be the death of me yet. More cupcake places that you’re recommending now? OK, the Hawaii one will definitely have to wait until I’m more fully employed. Hah!

    Lisa: You had me at cardamom buttercream. Oh my!!

  • Carolyn, The cupcakes are beautiful. It must be that fantastic photographer you keep on retainer. LOL! Hmm. I left my cupcakes out over night on the stove top after being cooled and then frosted. The next couple of days, people were still commenting about how moist they were. So I’m thinking perhaps they were just a tad over baked?

  • I have been to both the Emeryville and the Lafayette locations, and definitely think the cookies are better than the cupcakes. But to be honest, I like the cupcakes’ texture. They have a dry crispness to them, almost like the top of a brownie. The frosting flavors are delish on top of the chocolate sour cream, my favorite. I thought the red velvet lacked flavor.

    PS – love your blog!

  • We had a cupcake boom out here a few years ago and there’s one in particular that got featured in a show I won’t name, but it gets a line coming out the door during tourist season. Honestly I don’t get it. The best cupcakes I’ve ever had were made at home, and to pay $3 for a cupcake (no matter how good) just seems wrong…

  • Cupcakes are all about the frosting anyway, isn’t it? I’m liking how that dulce de leche buttercream sounds.

  • I found your site through an old post about Penzey’s and cannot wait to follow it further. That is too bad about the cupcakes. I am a cake, not frosting person, so a dry crumb would disapoint.

  • Just an update: You guys are right about Teacake’s cookies. Finally got to try a peanut butter one and a coffee-toffee one. Awesome! I would definitely go back again for the cookies.

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