November 25, 2010
Kosher Cupcake Wars [VIDEO]
Erica Tucker is no stranger to sugary battles. The baker has proven herself to be a valiant fighter on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” With the expansion of her delivery and catering baking operation into the Sweet E’s Mini-Bake Shop off the corner of Pico/Robertson—LA’s own Jewish quarter—her war has become a religious one.
The native-Texan has definitely made kosher way more hip and glamorous with her red carpet style opening on November 18. Pictures of her Tinsletown clients were served up as marketing frosting near the neat displays of the “mini-cakes” and other goodies.
But the LA branch of Magnolia Bakery has proven a stalwart kosher cupcake warrior. Founded in 1996 in the Jewish hood of all hoods—Manhattan—the New York favorite was bought by Steve Abrams in 2007. The good Jewish boy opened three new branches in New York and made them all kosher. The LA branch opened this past July on the corner of Third Street and Orlando, not far from the other Jewish quarter—Third/Fairfax—bringing back some kosher bakery glory to a hood overshadowed by the rise of Pico/Robertson.
I had the difficult job of throwing my waist in the ring to determine which kosher cupcakes were better. Since cupcakes are a matter of taste, Angelenos really have to bite the caloric intake and judge for themselves. But if I had to choose just one cupcake worth an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill, it would definitely be Magnolia’s “Snowcap”—a devil’s food cupcake with meringue icing.
Sweet E’s cupcakes are smaller, the icing and cake denser than Magnolia’s. Magnolia’s cakes are fluffy, buttery goodness. Like the design of its shop, the Sweet E’s cupcake is characterized by perfect grooming: the icing is meticulously swirled over perfectly round tops. At Magnolia, you can watch the bakers simply slab the icing and pat it down at the bakery’s open kitchen. I guess you could say Sweet E’s is the more refined, conservative cupcake; Magnolia the loose, liberal one.
But I could see this war becoming less about the batter-at-hand—the cupcake—and more about the turf, with the Jews of Pico/Robertson rallying behind their Hood and the Jews of Fairfax desperately clinging to their side of town as the local Jewish capital. Lucky for my waist, I live in Hollywood, far enough from them both. The last thing I need from a cupcake is a muffin-top.
Sweet E’s: 1417 S. Robertson Blvd; (323) 422-8885; www.sweetesbakeshop.com.