My goal while abroad is to visit at least one cupcake store in each city. The cupcake craze started in the United States and is fairly new in Europe. Not only are cupcakes an unfamiliar baked good compared to the less achingly sweet pastry-and-coffee culture over here, but the fetishization/branding of one select item seems to be a change from simple, homey bakeries with lots of selection. However, as I read in Copenhagen, bringing cupcake stores to Europe has resulted in success- they have almost no competition, so they can completely dominate the market share early on, and Europeans are learning to love the trend of a pretty (and pricey) little cake.
I’m currently in Barcelona, so I decided to visit Cup & Cake Barcelona, which opened in 2010. It is located in the trendy, upscale neighborhood of Eixample, near the Diagonal metro stop.
Cup & Cake is located down a smaller street containing a leafy green park, lots of children, and benches. The benches are key, as unfortunately Cup & Cake (like many cupcake stores, I’m looking at you Georgetown Cupcake) does not have a lot of indoor seating. While this may be familiar in the U.S. because people are used to taking the cupcakes in nice boxes “to go”, I was struck by this because of the Spanish tradition of sitting and enjoying a coffee, pastry, and conversation. Cafes are always sure to provide ample seating, inside and out.
Once inside, Cup & Cake is a beautiful store, with a rustic look and pastel color scheme. The menus are printed in brown paper surrounded by rope, they have traditional cake platters for serving, and the store maintains an air of daintiness even though when I visited it was packed with customers. The woman and man working at the front looked a little overwhelmed, but were very nice.
I had done some research online before I visited Cup & Cake, and am happy to report that in terms of flavors, the in-store offerings vary greatly from the online “menu.” This is probably just a product of the growth that any bakery experiences in their early years, but it also meant it was exciting for me to see so many new flavors. Besides the standard vanilla and chocolate, on the day that I visited, Cup & Cake boasted red velvet, apple cinnamon, carrot cake, banana + pumpkin, chocolate cheesecake, brownie, and chocolate coconut. I decided on a classic (red velvet) as well as an apple cinnamon. They were 2.50 Euro each.
Apple Cinnamon: The apple cinnamon cupcake had a moist, spiced cake studded with pieces of apple, and yet wasn’t overly dense. It was topped with a cream cheese frosting and a candied walnut. The frosting was a good consistency and didn’t seem too cream-cheesy–that being said, the cupcake (both, actually) could have done with a little less frosting. I am a frosting person, but I found myself trying to save some cake to avoid being stuck with just frosting at the end.
Red Velvet: After I took a bite, I realized that Cup & Cake’s version of red velvet is actually either strawberry and white chocolate or red velvet cake with a buttercream frosting. I’m not sure which, I assumed red velvet cake but the label said “fresa”, which means strawberry. Either way, it was really good, and the slight confusion shouldn’t deter you unless you are a red velvet purist. I really liked the frosting, the cake was very dense in the middle, almost brownie-like. Very sweet- perfect with a cup of coffee.
My only recommendation for Cup & Cake, besides reducing the frosting, is that they upgrade their take-away situation. Given that there is a lack of seating and people love to take cupcakes to go, it is essential to have proper packaging. Cup & Cake won’t give you a box if you order under 6, so the cupcakes are packaged in brown bags with a divider inside and a sticker on the outside. This resulted in frosting smears and bags with butter stains seeping through–not how a cupcake should be transported. Invest in some boxes! I was also disappointed to find out they don’t give forks and knives, which is arguably more eco-friendly, yet at the same time I really enjoy taking my time with a fork when I eat something as sweet as a cupcake. Cup & Cake hasn’t even been open for two years, so hopefully these are tweaks that will be made eventually as time goes on. But overall, I would recommend Cup & Cake to anyone in Barcelona. Their flavors are inventive, the staff is friendly, and the cupcakes are high quality.
Cup & Cake is located at:
Enric Granados, 145 (Barcelona), Spain//Metro: Diagonal