“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
I can’t believe it’s been two years. Almost two years to the day, since I started the journey as a cupcake connoisseur.
In my naiveté, I thought it would be buttercream bliss. Of course, I’ve discovered some gems.
But I’ve also uncovered flavorless frostings, artificial ingredients, overpriced common cupcakes, and more.
I’ve tried to learn from disappointments, reminding myself to expect anything in the pursuit of honest cupcakes.
However, lessons from the past provided little solace for this week’s mission to Sweet Layers in Murrieta, CA.
I received a friendly greeting upon entering the bakery. With no product labels, I needed the associate to describe each cupcake in their display case.
After a moment of indecision, I selected two. At $3 each, it would have been easy to get three. Thankfully prudence prevailed.
For my first surprise came that night, disguised as a Mango Pineapple Cupcake. It’s a pineapple cake with mango coconut frosting.
At least, that’s what the associate at Sweet Layers told me.
I tasted only a moist yellow cake with mango frosting. Now, a pineapple cake usually means pineapple, even if it’s crushed and sugary. To find no sign of fruit was perplexing. If extract was used instead, there wasn’t enough to infuse the cake.
As for coconut in the frosting, real shredded coconut would’ve been the best touch. Again, if extract was used, it was too light.
The cupcake was pleasant enough to finish. Even so, I wasn’t mentally satisfied. With all the shortcuts, I didn’t get the flavor I paid for.
I looked at my other choice from Sweet Layers. Normally, this would be my time to break for the night. But if another surprise was coming, I wanted it done. Besides, their cupcakes were more like medium than regular size.
I drank some water and returned to the table with an Almond Champagne Cupcake. It was supposed to be an almond champagne cake with vanilla buttercream that’s topped in chocolate ganache.
I tasted a dry almond cake with vanilla buttercream similar to the standard buttercream found at your local grocery store. At least the mango buttercream was better quality and had random bits of mango.
As I suspected, I detected no hint of champagne and the ganache left no lasting impression.
I finished three-quarters of the cupcake and discarded the rest. Although closer to its description, I still felt cheated.
How does a bakery that’s a preferred vendor for wineries and resorts in the Temecula Valley make a dry cake? And how does a bakery that specializes in wedding and custom cakes use such generic buttercream?
I give Sweet Layers 3 out of 5 stars. I’ve relaxed my expectations, but they missed the mark on some bakery basics.
Such a review in 2013 would’ve reflected more outrage. At least experience has calmed my demeanor. Or perhaps, I’ve grown accustomed to letdowns.
Surely, the future holds more half-truths. However, I won’t dwell on this fact. I’ll focus on the honest cupcakes. That makes the journey worth it.