Woodlea Surprise in Bel Air!

A few weekends ago, Crusader Stacy and I met a couple of girlfriends for brunch and stumbled upon Woodlea Bakery in Bel Air. We were headed to Open Door Cafe for brunch (which was fantastic) and noticed the bakery was in the same shopping center. Stacy and I have both seen the original Woodlea Bakery on Bel Air Road in Baltimore city, but have not had a chance to go there, so this was a pleasant coincidence we had to take advantage of!

Rarely do you find true old-school bakeries anymore, with fresh baked bread, donuts, cakes, and cookies, so it’s a treat to stumble upon one. While their baked goods selection was amazing, their cupcake selection lacked variety. But still, I was able to find two mini cupcakes and a couple of full-sized cupcakes to choose from. Here are my selections and reviews:

Red Velvet

This was the only full-size cupcake I brought home. While Red Velvet is a flavor I order often, it is not always a cupcake I finish eating – because it, in my opinion, is rarely done correctly. With that said, this red velvet was not bad. The cake alone had good flavor to it, mild but sweet, just as a red velvet should be, but that could not save it from being DRY, very dry. The icing was creamy and a great consistency, but sweeter than I like my cream cheese icing. Had the cake been more moist, I could have forgiven the overly sweet icing. This is a cupcake I would order again though, just to see if the moisture of the cake was better.

Carrot Cake Mini

Spicy and sweet, this little cupcake packed a punch. The cake was too dry for my liking, and the cream cheese icing was the same as on the red velvet above, so for me, a little too sweet. Overall, being a carrot cake fan, this wasn’t my favorite and wouldn’t be one I would order again. It just seemed like it was missing something. Was it nutmeg? Was it allspice? Was it carrot pieces? Sadly, I just can’t put my finger on that missing ingredient.

German Chocolate Mini

This little morsel of chocolate and coconut goodness was the best of the three cupcakes I tried. I love German chocolate cake and if this was a glimpse of what a full size German chocolate cake would taste like, I might have found my next birthday cake! The cake was on the dry side, but the coconut topping added enough moisture to eliminate that issue. like the Red Velvet, I would definitely order this cupcake again, and would love to get a full-size version if possible, to see if the cake wasn’t quite as dry.

The next time I am in that area, perhaps I will stop by and pick up some other baked goodies to try. Especially after reading the reviews online of the donuts! Do you live by a true old-school bakery? What’s your favorite thing to get (and does it happen to be a cupcake)?

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


Starry Night Bakery: A Shining Star for Cupcakes?

My experience with Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse began over a year ago. I was in search of a cupcake place in Westminster. There are plenty in Baltimore City, but living outside of the city I was curious about what local cupcake bakeries my town had to offer. I stumbled upon Starry Night Bakery and Coffeehouse and the reviews seemed good, but considering my cupcake experiences I was skeptical. Their website, while very creative, didn’t give me any details about flavors or even store hours. So one day, on my way home from work, I stopped in.  I was very please with the selection, made a few choices, and brought the cupcakes home. I had mixed feelings about the cupcakes, mainly because one of the flavors had a raspberry filling, but it was way too much filling. I recall that particular cupcake being too sweet between the jam filling and the icing.

Fast-forward to today…I heard about Starry Night’s seasonal selection and was very excited about their Salted Caramel Apple. I’d just tasted Happy Cakes’ and thought if I could get something similar locally, that would be great. I also learned that since my last experience with Starry Night, they were on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars! Now I was REALLY excited!

I went in and ended up leaving with four cupcakes: Two of the Salted Caramel Apple (one for hubby and one for me) and two of their “Quirky” Cupcakes; a Banana & Chocolate (called Monkey Biznass – or something like that) and their Salty Caramel. I later went back and decided that before reviewing these cupcakes I really should try the other two seasonal flavors, which also sounded delicious, and their Cupcake Wars cupcake, which seemed intriguing.  For the sake of the review, instead of going in chronological order I am going to start with seasonal, quirky, and then end with their Cupcake Wars cupcake.

The Salted Caramel Apple is an apple cake with a salted caramel buttercream.

While this cupcake was delicious, I do think that it could have used more caramel flavor. I’m not a big caramel person, but I do feel like caramel lovers would find it lacking and think that a caramel drizzle could be the solution. Not only would it add flavor, but it would also bump of the decoration and get customers really excited about their seasonal selection. However, the salty with the sweet was worked out perfectly and the apple cake was very good, so all-in-all, a very good cupcake.

The Orange Cranberry is an orange cake with dried cranberries and a buttercream frosting.

The aroma of this cupcake let me know that it was going to be good. I could smell the orange and cranberry and the taste was no different! Again, perfect level of sweetness with the bite of the citrus and cranberries. After tasting this cupcake, I thought it would be my favorite!

Lastly, the Pumpkin Maple is a pumpkin cake with maple buttercream. Yum!

I’m a sucker for maple buttercream, so I was really excited about this. Just like the Orange Cranberry, this cupcake did not lack on delicious aroma or flavor. Everything was balanced perfectly and I even picked up a hint of spice in the cake, maybe cinnamon. I appreciated the creative combination of pumpkin with maple versus the standard creamcheese frosting or plain buttercream typically used on a spice cake. As a seasonal flavor, this one ended up “taking the cake!”

“Quirky” Cupcakes
The Banana & Chocolate is a banana cake with banana filling and chocolate buttercream frosting.

After tasting the banana cream separately I was a little worried that the banana flavor was too artificial, however altogether the flavors really worked to create a perfectly balanced cupcake with all of the banana and chocolate taste you’d expect. The banana cake was excellent!

The Salty Caramel is a chocolate cake with caramel filling and salty caramel buttercream.

I was a little confused by the filling and originally thought it was a chocolate ganche filling. I think this is due to the caramel absorbing into the chocolate cake. As with the Salted Caramel Apple, I think the caramel flavor could have been bumped up a notch, but the salt with the chocolate still really worked and made this cupcake very enjoyable.

It looks like the “Quirky” Cupcake flavors are rotated, but they have some amazing looking combinations. I’m excited to try one that has chocolate and espresso. They also have their standard flavors, but who can even look at those with all the other interesting selections?

Cupcake Wars
As mentioned earlier, I found out that Starry Night was a competitor on Cupcake Wars. I thought this was so cool and wished that I had caught that episode, but sadly I did not and can’t find it online anywhere. While they did not win the competition, they did make it to the final challenge and according to Candance Nelson’s blog, it was a close battle. On my second trip there this week, I decided that it was mandatory to taste their Energy Drink cupcake, that they had created on the show. This cupcake is Ginger Poppyseed with a Quava buttercream. Sounds good to me!

And, it was! While all might not appreciate the floral note to the guava buttercream, I do. It wasn’t overpowering in my opinion and I loved the uniqueness to it. I couldn’t pick up the ginger in the cake, but the poppyseed flavor was delicious and the guava really complimented it well.

I believe that Starry Night has come a long way in a year and that they are a shinny star in the cupcake industry. While there’s room for improvement in terms of bringing some of the flavors out fully, they make a perfectly balanced cupcake with moist cake that will have me coming back for more!

Side Note: Starry Night also has a great coffeehouse selection and they really know how to make a good cup of joe with flavor combinations equal to their cupcakes!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)