It was bound to happen. In the kitchen, as with everywhere else, what goes up must come down. That doesn't just apply to soufflés. The vanilla-gilded aura that has been beaming out from the cupcake for some time now has, inevitably, begun to flicker.
When once our be-sprinkled friends could do no wrong, there are now those who mock, who jeer their admittedly absurd shoot to fame. Food blogger Sophie Jordan sneeringly dismisses them as, “the most infantile baked goods imaginable”. Even those on the opposite side of the foodie fence cant help but wonder how these souped-up little sponges found themselves, bewildered and Bambi-eyed, in centre stage. Paper cased and showcased, iced to the nines- like daughters playing gaudy dress-up in mummy’s jewellery and make-up.
Entire shops are devoted to these twee-ly glitzy calorie bombs, droves of yummy mummies, lunch-breaking nine-to-fivers, hard workers, shirkers, assistants, maids and managers can all be found frothing at the counters, as if they housed some hybrid of hyper-cute puppies, bred for ultra-adorability, crossed with syrup-dipped Chippendales.
Some cakes are verging on snacks in drag, in sickly yellows, pinks and blues, on the brink of diabetic, glitter-spewing, bright-fright meltdown.
So what’s the fuss? They’re hardly the gastronomic grail. We all see them for what they are, surely? They’re what almost every last one of us used to avidly bodge together as children, whether we were spilling the self-raising onto cracked lino kitchen surface, lurid Ikea wipe-down mats, or lacquered stretches of pine worktop, while the au-pair wiped up frantically as you went.
The only difference is, now, fully grown strangers process them in factory sterility, and demand a fiver a pop for the privilege. These little sugar-nests- they’re our own childhoods gone cooperate, siphoned straight from our fond memories and regurgitated for us in pristine Cath Kidson uniformity. And up till now, we couldn’t snaffle the things down fast enough. And I don’t think, despite the growing bake-hating, doggedly Scrooge-esque blogs such as “cupcakesareshit.tumblr.com” (yes, really), that we’re going to stop any time soon. Even if we do admit the whole phenomenon is a bit daft, actually, and any self-respecting primate, given half a dozen ingredients, bowl, spoon and oven, could whip up a batch blindfold, I’ve got a hunch that we’ll carry on investing in this sweet stuff for a little while yet.
The truth is, they’re not deemed glutinous, but just one packs more punch than necking the sugar bowl. They’re marketed as flirty and feminine, but I challenge you to find a butcher onslaught of carbs that we can chicly, smirkingly, tuck into at our desks. They float like a butterfly cake, and sting like a syringe of glucose shot straight into the veins. They’re what we craved for every time we opened our lunch boxes, and found an apple there instead.
We’re grown-up’s now, right? So we’ll have our sickly sweet, party-bag playground treat anytime we like, thanks very much.