Best classic cupcake in Hamilton, Ontario (Part 2 of 2: Beyond the Batter Cupcakes)

As you know from Monday’s review, I recently returned from Ontario, Canada and of course sampled cupcakes from different bakeries while I was there. While I did not research cupcakeries in Toronto very thoroughly, I did plenty of research on cupcake shops in an area called Hamilton, located about 20 minutes from our Cottage by the Lake. I had already narrowed my options down to about four shops, when I saw “The great cupcake taste test” from the Hamilton Spectator. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to visit all four, I was more than happy to have this guide to go by and decided on my final two choices: Cupcakes of Westdale Village (voted best Chocolate/Chocolate) and Beyond the Batter Cupcakes (voted best Vanilla/Vanilla). Normally, I don’t tend to purchase the classic flavors. You could say I’m a risk taker when it comes to cupcakes. But, since they were voted the best in each category I knew I had to try each of them. I decided that I would also get a fun flavor of my choice when I was there, just to keep things interesting. In part one of this review, I shared my visit to Cupcakes of Westdale Village. Today, I will share my review from Beyond the Batter Cupcakes.

While Beyond the Batter is not actually located in Hamilton – it is located just outside of it in a town called, Stoney Creek – since they were reviewed by the Hamilton Spectator and voted as having the best Vanilla/Vanilla cupcake in Hamilton, I’ve left the “Hamilton” reference in the title.

Beyond the Batter was actually a little tricky to find. Their storefront is hard to see from the street, with a tree in front of it and nothing other than their store front window advertising “Cupcakes.” But after passing it, turning around, and coming back, I was finally there.

Once inside, I was pleasantly pleased by the understated simple decor. The walls are painted in the same pretty “Tiffany” blue that is used on their website, business cards, and cupcake boxes. I love their cupcake illustration for their logo that adorns their cards and boxes. It’s vibrant and whimsical, just like cupcakes.

Like Cupcakes of Westdale Village, Beyond the Batter displays their cupcakes in simple cake stands, however, their’s are made of glass and they have a variety of different ones. They also have charming hand-written signs for describing what flavors are contained. The combination of the two keeps with the playfulness seen in their logo.

Since Vanilla/Vanilla was voted the best cupcake, I knew I was getting that one. I had read and seen photos of their Nerd Alert cupcake, but unfortunately they didn’t have any that day. (Major bummer). I guess on my next trip to Ontario, I’ll have to give them a heads up that I’ll be there and see if they which days they will have this flavor available.

If you’ve already visited their website you may have seen that for the month of November, Beyond the Batter is donating $2 from one of their special cupcakes to families with sick children who are struggling financially. This cupcake is named Taya’s Cupcake after a four year old girl who passes away from a brain tumor. After reading this, I knew that was the second cupcake flavor I was going to get.

So, with all my cupcakes in tow, I made my way back to our cottage. The first I decided try was Taya’s Cupcake (chocolate cake with vanilla frosting).

This cupcake was vibrant with the bold frosting colors swirled together. I really wanted to love this cupcake, but unfortunately, did not. The chocolate cake was only okay compared to Cupcakes of Westdale Village’s chocolate cake, and the frosting, while fun, tasted strongly of food coloring. It hurts me to say that since this cupcake is for such a great cause, but I honestly can’t say that it was a good cupcake. However, if you are the person at birthday parties who claims the bright colored flowers on the birthday cake as your own, then this cupcake is made for you. But unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. That said, I wasn’t sorry I bough this cupcake since $2 went to such a great cause and I think that any child would love this cupcake with all it’s sugary wonderfulness. It just wasn’t for me.

So, on to the Vanilla/Vanilla.

I had BIG expectations from this cupcake since it was voted “best Vanilla/Vanilla” in Hamilton, but I really can’t claim to be an expert on this flavor since I very rarely order it. That said, this cupcake was heavenly. I think it may have been the best vanilla cupcake I’ve ever tried. Their Vanilla/Vanilla makes me want to try other cupcakeries vanilla, just to see how it compares. So, while Taya’s Cupcake may have missed the mark for me, this was right on target.

They also had a salted caramel on the menu. I’m still kicking myself for not getting that one too. At the time, I was proud that I stuck with my “2 cupcake rule,” but looking back, I really should have gotten it.

Overall my experience with Beyond the Batter and Cupcakes of Westdale Village were both really wonderful. I got out and explored Ontario a little more than I may have if it wasn’t for them, and I got to see first hand that Ontario has a great handle on the cupcake craze. I’m looking forward to going back and hope to stop by each of these locations again. Also, these visits made me appreciate the classic flavors more than I once did and I think from now on, I’ll be sure to order a classic mixed in with all the wild and crazy flavors I tend to purchase.

Thank you Ontario for providing me with wonderful cupcakes on my first “International Cupcake Adventure!”

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


Prairie Girl Bakery – Toronto, Ontario

The Cupcake Crusaders have gone international! Well, sort of… If you consider an eight hour drive to Canada international, then yes, we have gone international.

Last week my hubby and I returned from our anniversary trip to Ontario. We stayed in Beamsville, Ontario, at Cottage by the Lake and had such an amazing time. Since we were about an hour away from Toronto, and had our five month old puppy with us, we were only able to visit Toronto for a few hours. We visited the CN Tower, St. Lawrence Market, Steam Whistle Brewery, and of course, a cupcake shop. Since all our points of interest that day were in walking distance, I selected Prairie Girl Bakery. It’s just a few blocks from St. Lawrence Market so was conveniently located on our walk back to the CN Tower.

(I am loving their logo, and they have it plastered on everything! I was grateful for the excellent signage otherwise I probably would have missed their location at 18 King Street East. It’s not right off of King Street, but actually down a street connected to King Street.)

I didn’t have a lot of time to research cupcake places in Toronto, and knew since we wouldn’t be there for long I couldn’t be too picky, so since this was the closest place I went with it. The only thing I knew from their website was that they had both full size and mini cupcakes in each flavor. I was pretty excited about that since mini cupcakes mean you can try more flavors without feeling guilty.

When I got there I discovered that they have a very structured menu. Basically, you’ve got your vanilla cake options, your chocolate cake options, your specialty cake options (red velvet, carrot cake, and banana cake), and then a “Treat of the Week.” The vanilla cake options are topped with either: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, lemon or vanilla with toasted coconut frosting. The chocolate follow a similar pattern and are topped with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, peanut butter or peppermint frosting.

I decided to get a 1/2 dozen of the mini cupcakes since I knew I would be hopefully making other cupcake stops later that week. I first asked my hubby what flavors he would like and told him he could pick three (I figured I should share since I dragged him in there) but he only wanted two: Chocolate/Chocolate, and Chocolate/Peanut Butter. So for my final four I selected: Chocolate/Peanut Butter (I wanted one of my own), Banana/Peanut Butter, Banana/Chocolate and their Treat of the Week: Cookies and Creme. I didn’t really want the Cookies and Creme, what I really wanted was Carrot Cake, but they were out of it. I really love Carrot Cake and the cream cheese frosting that usually accompanies it, so I was pretty bummed out. Looking back, I just should have gotten the Red Velvet so I could have at least tried the cream cheese frosting.

Once we got back to our cute cottage situated directly off of Lake Ontario, it was time for some tasting (and a quick “photoshoot’)!

(I’m super impressed by this bag. Most bakeries use a sticker of their logo (if anything), or even just a one color imprint. Prairie Girl Bakery has gone all out with a 3 color imprint. It makes this bag vibrant and fun. They definitely have their design and marketing down.)

(More of their 3 color logo on what looks like a custom die-cut box. I’m super impressed by all their marketing materials. This bakery makes the design nerd and cupcake lover in me so very happy.)

(Cupcake starting at the top left and working clockwise: Chocolate/Peanut Butter, Banana/Chocolate, Banana/Peanut Butter, another Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies and Cream and Chocolate/Chocolate.)

For the purposes of this review, I’m going to start with our least favorite so you leave you dreaming about our most favorites.

Least Favorite – Cookies and Cream

Unfortunately this “Treat of the Week” wasn’t much of a treat for me. While the frosting appeared to have cookie bits in it, all it tasted like was confectioners sugar. I was really disappointed, especially since this was my replacement to the carrot cake that I really wanted. I was so unhappy with it that I couldn’t even finish the frosting on this cupcake, even though it was a mini one (so glad I didn’t have a full size one!).

Banana with Peanut Butter Frosting

I love the combination of peanut butter and banana’s together so I was really excited about this cupcake. The banana cake was really amazing. It was moist with chunks of fresh banana. Unfortunately the peanut butter frosting wasn’t what I was expecting. For me, it was way too sweet and lacking the saltiness that I typically love when you get a peanut butter frosting. Otherwise, it was nice and creamy and I did finish the whole thing despite the frosting being on the sweet side for me.

Chocolate with Peanut Butter Frosting

Since I had already had the Banana with Peanut Butter frosting, I knew what I was getting from this. I would say that it was a tie between this one and the banana one. I really loved the rich, moist chocolate cake, but the frosting again just wasn’t working for me. I still ate the whole cupcake though (so it was good, just not GREAT).

Chocolate with Chocolate Frosting

This was my hubby’s selection and he couldn’t have been more pleased with it. I think he wished that he had a full size cupcake instead of the mini one (sorry hubby!). Of the trip, this was his favorite cupcake. He didn’t try all the ones I had gotten, since he only likes certain flavors, but if we are fortunate enough to make it back to Toronto one day, I have a feeling we will be stopping into their bakery for this cupcake.

Banana with Chocolate Frosting

This was definitely my favorite of the five flavors we choose from Prairie Girl Bakery. The amazing banana cake paired with their luscious and smooth chocolate frosting where the perfect combination. I would have to say that this ranks up there with my other favorite banana chocolate combo from Fancy Cakes by Leslie.

Overall, while I wasn’t “wow’ed” by some of their flavors, their cake is really wonderful, and their chocolate frosting is superb. They now have two locations in Toronto (the 2nd location just opened today!), both not far from each other or Union Station, so if you are ever in the area, you can quickly pop in for an morning, afternoon, or evening treat. But take my recommendation, stick with the chocolate frosting, you’ll be very happy that you did.

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