Apple, Maple, Pumpkin, Spice – The Flavors of Fall

This time of year we can’t seem to resist anything with a fall seasonal flavor, which means we have tried many random cupcakes from several locations that we want to share with you. What better way to do that then one big post?! The cupcakes below are from: AngelCakes in Frederick, MD; Sweet Sin Bakery and Cafe in Baltimore, MD; Caffe Latte’da in Baltimore, MD; Crumbs Bake Shop in Clarendon, VA; Georgetown Cupcake in Bethesda, MD; Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse in Westminster, MD; and Snickerdoodles Bakery in Coffee House in Hampstead, MD.

AngelCakes – Frederick, MD
Pumpkin Spice Cupcake

Last time I reviewed AngelCakes it was a bit of a mixed review. I tried two cupakes, but only really enjoyed one. Well, this Pumpkin Spice cupcake work out in my favor with its super moist cake and great pumpkin spice flavor. The frosting was sweet, but not overly so. This cupcake actually reminded me a lot of a Dunkin Donut’s pumpkin doughnut, which isn’t a bad thing (I could eat those doughnuts all day, every day if my waistline would let me).

Sweet Sin Bakery and Cafe (AKA: Sweet 27 – Gluten Free) – Baltimore, MD
Pumpkin Spice and Pumpkin Apple Caramel Cupcakes

Sweet Sin can often be a hit or miss, but their Chocolate Raspberry cupcake is completely decadent and just that alone has me thinking about their cupcakes often—its close proximity to my day job doesn’t hurt either. Plus, they are gluten free, so kind of healthy too, right? (Don’t burst my bubble on this…) Recently, I found myself with a fierce cupcake craving, so decided to stop in and see what fall cupcakes were on the menu. They actually had about four seasonal flavors that day, so I selected Pumpkin Spice and Pumpkin Apple Caramel. Unfortunately only one really worked for me. The Pumpkin Apple Caramel had large chunks of baked apples, but also contained a weird spice flavor that just didn’t win me over. Luckily the Pumpkin Spice saved the day and ended up having a great flavor and smooth frosting. The cake on both was a bit dense and the texture wasn’t totally like “normal” cake, but since I convince myself that I was eating a healthy cupcake I decided to overlook that.

Cafe Latte’da – Baltimore, MD
Pumpkin Cupcake

This cupcake is a bit like a muffin pretending to be a cupcake. The cake’s texture screams, “I’m a muffin!” but, the flavor of the “cake” is really nice and the cream cheese frosting on top is smooth with just the right amount of sweetness. This cupcake is also HUGE which means you can share it or eat half immediately and save the rest for later (or just eat the whole thing in one sitting, we won’t judge).

Crumbs Bakery – Clarendon, VA

Pumpkin

Pumpkin… sadly this cupcake did not live up to its namesake. The cake was moist and delicious, but didn’t taste like pumpkin at all, the icing was the same…both had a lovely vanilla flavor—which after a bit of searching on their website I discovered that Crumbs has two cupcakes that reference pumpkin: one that is just vanilla and one that is actually pumpkin flavored. As a Vanilla cupcake, this cupcake did NOT disappoint. Simple in flavor, but decorated for the season!

Apple Cobbler

Streusel Crumbs = Heaven. Filled with apple pie preserves, covered in delicious vanilla buttercream and topped with streusel crumbs, this cupcake flavor is amazing and complex. It didn’t just taste like apple cobbler, it embodied and elevated the flavors of its namesake dessert.

Georgetown Cupcake – Bethesda, MD
Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple Cupcakes

For November Georgetown Cupcake has some fantastic fall flavor offerings; including the two pictured above: Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple. The Pumpkin Spice cupcake was just as I remembered it from our 2011 Cupcake Tour—a little dense, but the flavors were amazing. The cake was full of spices while the cream cheese icing had a subtle maple flavor. Caramel Apple, whoa! The apple cake was moist and the dolce de leche filling adds a whole new level of flavor to this cupcake. Both cupcakes are fall-tastic!

Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse – Westminster, MD
Amaretto Chai Spice Cupcake

Starry Night released this new flavor after I went in this year to pick their other 2012 Fall Seasonal cupcakes. Luckily they had them on my most recent visit! This cupcake was moist and light, full of flavor. It seemed more like a spice cake to me, but I’m not a big chai tea drinker (unlike Crusader Elisa). The chai buttercream was smooth and I think I picked up notes of cinnamon. Another winning cupcake from Starry Night!

Snickerdoodles Bakery and Coffee House – Hampstead, MD
Apple Cinnamon Cupcake

This Apple Cinnamon cupcake was amazing, to say the least. Snickerdoodles tends to always fill their large gourmet cupcakes, even if just with a whipped frosting, but this cupcake was filled with an apple cinnamon compote and topped with cinnamon buttercream. The crumb around the edge added a nice texture and gave it the feeling of an apple crisp.

We hope that you were able to get out this fall and taste some seasonal cupcakes. Fall flavors are some of our favorites, but now with Thanksgiving bringing the season to a close, we are ready for the cupcakes that winter has to offer!

– Reviews by the Cupcake Crusaders

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Battle of the Cupcakeries: Sweet Angela’s and AngelCakes in Frederick, MD

I’ve only found myself in Frederick, MD a few times in my life (I can literally count the amount of times on one hand), but it’s a great little city, with a fabulous Downtown/Main Street area that is quaint and stylish at the same time. I haven’t had a lot of time to fully enjoy the shops and restaurants, but if you are looking for a short day trip from Baltimore or DC, it’s a good choice, with plenty to keep you entertained (including a short drive to Linganore Winecellars).

On a recent work related visit, I decided to check out their “cupcake scene.” After doing some Google research, I was shocked to see that there were actually several options. I selected two shops that appeared to be fairly close together: Sweet Angela’s Cupcakery and AngelCakes.

The cinder-block exterior of AngeCakeswas a little less than welcoming (and very different than the norm in Frederick), but they did their best by painting it a bright white and adding nice touches like the awning, sign, and light fixtures. After seeing this, I wasn’t sure what to expect on the inside but was pleasantly surprised by the trendy, modern appearance and cool blue and gray tones. I was immediate greeted and quickly placed my order (Key Lime and Salted Caramel) as the selection wasn’t overwhelmingly large.

Crossing the street to place the cupcakes in my car, I was stunned to see my next cupcake stop visible just about a block away. I knew they were close, but not that close! Happy that I wouldn’t have to walk far, I practically skipped down the sidewalk to my next destination.

If you think that AngelCakes signage is enough to catch your eye, there is no way you can miss Sweet Angela’s Cupcakery. In appearance, Sweet Angela’s is the exact opposite of AngelCakes. While AngelCakes is blue and trendy, Sweet Angela’s is very pink and cutesy, complete with cupcake illustrations on the walls. Despite the differences in decor, their flavor selection was actually quite similar. So similar in fact, that I ended up getting a Key Lime at Sweet Angela’s and thought a Key Lime Challenge would be in order. They didn’t have Salted Caramel though, so I stuck with a classic: Vanilla.

As soon as I got home the Key Lime Challenge was on. Visually, each had aspects I liked: Sweet Angela’s had a nice light colored cake, while AngelCakes’ was dark and looked to be a bit over-baked. Then, AngelCakes’ Key Lime cupcake had fresh lime zest on top, but Sweet Angela’s just had a gummy candy I knew I wouldn’t eat. But the true test would be the first bite.

Sweet Angela’s Key Lime:
The description stated that this cupcake was a fresh key lime cake with fresh squeezed lime juice, topped with buttercream frosting with a hint of lime and garnished with lime zest, but my cupcake was obviously not garnished with lime zest.

I could feel how soft and moist the cake was when pulling back the cupcake liner. It was also dense and a little sticky too, almost like a combination between pound cake and angel food cake. There was only a slight tartness with the cake, but the frosting was very tart; however, it was more of a generic tartness (not specifically key lime) and was artificial tasting.

AngelCakes’ Key Lime:

At first I thought this cupcake might be dry after seeing that the top of the cake was a dark brown, but it wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t as moist as Sweet Angela’s but it definitely was not overly dry either. Although you can see the fresh lime zest in the cake (unlike Sweet Angela’s), you couldn’t taste it, which was a bit disappointing. Even the frosting, while light and fluffy, only had just a hint of lime. Overall the key lime flavor just wasn’t present enough in either cupcake, but AngelCakes tasted a bit more authentic and more like a homemade cupcake, so wins my vote in the Key Lime Challenge.

After the Key Lime challenge it was on to the other cupcakes.

Sweet Angela’s Classic Vanilla:

I’ve come to really enjoy vanilla cupcakes, but this was a letdown for me because the vanilla flavor was really not present at all. The cake lacked flavor of any kind and the frosting tasted like a straight buttercream with maybe a touch of inexpensive vanilla extract.

AngelCakes’ Salted Caramel:

My initial reaction was, “This is a good cupcake!” I only planned on eating half (and saving the other half for later), but after my first bite I knew that wouldn’t happen. The cake was  more moist than their Key Lime cupcake (even the next day) and it had a really nice caramel flavor. The frosting also had a great caramel flavor and the saltiness was well represented.

Even though Sweet Angela’s cupcakes were a bit cheaper than AngelCakes’ ($2.50 versus $2.75), I don’t think I would go back there, especially with AngelCakes just a block away. AngelCakes doesn’t make my favorites lists, but there was something nice about their homemade quality.

If you are ever in the Downtown Frederick area, maybe you could visit both shops and have a little “Battle of the Cupcakeries” too?

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)