“Everybody loves cupcakes, don’t they?”. This is the answer I usually give when asked why I was trying to make cupcakes in Russia, and this is what I was telling the group of reporters in front of me at that moment. After a few years cooking my way around the country, the question had become pretty regular.
“Let me get this straight”, one of them suggested, waving her (dessert) fork at me “you came ALL the way to Siberia just to make… cupcakes?”
(Despite the aggressive tone of her question, the look on her face was telling me “this banana cake salted caramel one IS pretty good, though”)
Well that wasn’t entirely true, of course, I was here to try and achieve much more than that, and cupcakes were just a part of my role as the travelling chef. At the same time, I was hoping to also tap into the cupcake craze that had been sweeping the world the past few years. It was even hitting places like Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, so why couldn’t it succeed in the largest country on the planet?
Like I said, everybody loves cupcakes. Think about it for a moment. It’s like you are able to take a whole cake, just for yourself, without the actual guilt of eating a whole cake by yourself. Some of those cupcakes can be so tiny that they you can even two or three and compare different flavours before you force yourself to stop!
Think about those big fluffy clouds of buttercream icing that you have to sink your teeth into just to get to the soft cake beneath – they can be as decadent or a simple as you like – there are so many combinations that you’re spoilt for choice. To say I was making red velvet in Russia was missing the point, this was much much bigger than that!
Also, it taps into the hidden child inside all of us, it’s like a little treat. These things are so simple to make and so much fun, too. Doesn’t take too much time or even specialist ingredients or equipment. You end up with flour on your nose and batter on the floor, but it’s real fun, just like baking at home should be. Basically, your mixing quantities of butter, sugar, eggs and flour to get a thick gloomy dough. Add some way of flavouring it and it’s a winner.
Cupcakes are definitely here to stay. The Americans have totally dominated the market, that’s for sure. you can even buy them on the street at any time of day from “mobile stations” – that’s what I really call sweet street! Get addicted to those and you could ‘refill’ in any city wherever you were.
I mean, even the French have them in Paris to compete with their dainty little macarons, and that’s definitely saying something!
I looked around, no one was really paying too much attention to what I was saying anymore. Too busy fighting for the last of the cupcakes on the tray… Like I thought when I first really started travelling, I think all around the world everybody loves cupcakes!