As part of my job as The Cake Critic, I get to experience and critique bakeries around the country. This week I stopped by CupCakeBite, owned by former graphic designer, Gina Pettaris. Located on Broad Street in “downtown” Fuquay Varina, NC, CupcakeBite brings to mind a malt shoppe from the 1950s–very quaint and lovely with dark hardwood floors, lively green and pink walls, and a counter full of deliciousness. One can readily see the time it took Pettaris to decorate her business perfectly. From the outside, CupCakeBite is very inviting–lots of windows including a decorative display window. This month the window has a Twilight theme: a red apple, the book series, and cupcakes named after some of the main characters, Bella, Jacob, and of course, Edward. Her window “eye candy” changes every month.
Once inside, guests are happy enough to sit down and enjoy cupcakes, coffee, and other goodies at the quaint shabby chic style white tables and chairs. Pettaris made sure to create a warm, comfortable atmosphere for her guests, and did not forget to include the children. There are two small white tables and chairs for kids to sit, color, read, and eat, as well as an observation window looking into the kitchen. Kids may stand up on a bench to watch them make cupcakes. It’s a great place for socializing. If I lived closer, I could totally see my friends and I gathering there for girl time, and having a cupcake with girlfriends is something every woman should do. Frequently. Of course, that’s my opinion–I love cake, and as you will see, I particularly love the cake at CupCakeBite. And did I mention these cakes are made with all natural ingredients and are baked fresh daily? Yes, that’s right!
When I arrived, one of the tables had a silver platter filled with beautifully decorated cupcakes, a cake pop, and a cookie. The cookie threw me, as I don’t normally do critiques on cookies, but after tasting the “White Chocolate Snickerdoodle,” I think I might have to extend my critiques to cookies, as well. Cookie lovers beware–this cookie is addicting!
The platter contained a “Not So Red Velvet” cupcake–classic cocoa cake but without the bright red dye, and cream cheese frosting; a “Blondie” brownie style cupcake–brown sugar cake with chocolate chunks and brown sugar buttercream; “Lemon Meringue” cupcake–lemon cake with lemon curd inside and lemon glaze; and my favorite, the “Fresh Banana” cupcake, which I will describe in full detail later. There was one cake pop, a delicious chocolate peanut butter ball on a stick. As you may have already guessed, my taste buds were embarking on a heavenly trip, and my bags were packed.
All of these confections were delicious–there is no doubt about that. I will highlight my personal favorites since there were so many on the platter, starting with the Blondie, one of their best selling cupcakes. The Blondie is heavy feeling when picked up–a very dense cupcake that is filling. One bite of this cupcake and you are hooked on it, making it hard to stop eating it. The texture is very chewy, which is very enjoyable. The chocolate chunks are large and blend well with the chewiness of the cake. This one is very rich and the brown sugar is noticeable, giving it an added benefit. All of these flavors work beautifully well together and with the brown sugar buttercream, it is perfection in a paper cup. Paired with milk, this cupcake works in any situation but is definitely comfort food.
The Lemon Meringue cupcake is lighter in texture, with a soft sweet lemon flavored cake–so light and delicious it seriously reminds me of a bright sunny day or a bridal shower treat. There is just a taste of lemon curd inside, which is nice because so many bakers overdo the fillings. Not CupCakeBite–there’s a tease of lemon curd, which just adds that zing to the palate, but not enough to be overwhelming. The cupcake has a smooth lemon glaze on top, which I must say is the epitome of perfection. This cupcake does not need a pile of frosting on top. The cake itself is the treat, and the icing and lemon curd are added benefits. This cupcake is absolutely beautiful in all ways to the eyes and the palate.
Last but definitely not least is my favorite cupcake, probably of all time, and that’s saying a lot coming from me. For one, I am not overly fond of bananas at all. I will eat them on rare occasions but have no love for them. I will also occasionally try banana bread, but if given the choice of zucchini bread or banana bread, the zucchini bread wins every time. Having said that, let me again say that this “Fresh Banana” cupcake is one of my favorite cupcakes of all time.
My first inner thought was “Oh my gosh I can’t believe how good this is…” followed by another bite to confirm my first thought. The banana cake is perfect–extremely moist and light, not overly sweet or dense, and the texture blended well with the icing–which should have a review of its own. The icing…I don’t know how she makes it, but I believe it would win awards. Pettaris should guard this one–it’s a cash cow!
The icing is light, incredibly smooth and just sweet enough. Combined with this beautiful banana cake and white chocolate sprinkles on top, my mouth didn’t know what to do besides practically inhale the cake whole. Of course, I had to refrain, but the thought was definitely there. I wish I could perfectly describe the entire sensation of biting into this cupcake–the moistness of the cupcake on your bottom teeth, the crunchiness of the sprinkles on the upper teeth while the extreme fluffiness of the frosting cushions the two. Enough said, you have got to try this one out yourself if in that area.
CupCakeBite was featured on the November/December issue of Cary Magazine along with a wonderful recipe for Gingerbread Spice cupcakes and received The Best Bakery Award from The Cake Critic. Their recognition is very well deserved.