These cupcakes challenge my notion of size and flavor.
I’m deeply suspicious of miniature pastries, “mini me’s” of their more massively sized counterparts. For me, the allure of the undersized is in fooling oneself about the quantity consumed; before you know it, the box’s contents have been decimated.
Which is why I’m hesitant when I call out for food purveyors during a recent MIYO Monday. Several DCF readers recommend Anita Li of Baked By Anita — their enthusiasm is such that it practically emanates from my monitor. I’ve seen these cupcakes at Mercato but it’s their size that makes me shy away. I listen to my readers, however, always have. And Anita herself gets in touch. Before I know it, a box of her cupcakes are staring up at me, like mini nemeses out to set me straight about size.
Set in specially-made sections for transport and display, these cupcakes are a jewel box of brown and ochre interspersed with punches of pink, and purple-juiced blueberries. Obviously these are – as Baked By Anita’s tagline goes – “Cupcakes with Attitude!” And as Anita herself states, “I wanted bold and unusual flavor combinations that made the palate think and dance. I have so many flavor combinations constantly going through my head and I want to make all of them.”
Reading through her list of cupcake flavors is akin to reciting a dessert tasting menu written lyrically and with intent. Consider the Mango Tamarind Cupcake with Tamarind Buttercream, twin tastes of sour-sweet, or the Bacon n’ Maple. Its ingredients read like a short list for autumn with sage and maple, browned butter, and the home bakers’ current “it-ingredient”: bacon. As with most bacon desserts I’ve tried however, the bacon here isn’t really discernible, since it operates more as a concept that titillates and suggests.
Still, these cupcakes demonstrate tremendous flavor impact for their size. I’m adventurous when it comes to flavor but I’ll ‘fess to my favorites. Peanut butter gets me every time, and the Peanut Butter Truffle does a good job of it. Clued in only by a distinguishing tophat of the nutty frosting, a bite lays bare its peanut buttery middle. Mmm.
I imagine that the as-if-from-a-dream Saffron n’ Black Salt would be a gutsy hobnobbing of two strong ingredients abetted by cardamom. Ditto also with the Sticky Date cupcake with its high-voltage-sounding elements of salted caramel buttercream and Himalayan pink salt. (Cue the “oohs…”) But I can’t really tell you what it is I try (apart from a distinctive few) since these cupcakes have no labels and I don’t like to pry on a first (dessert) date. I’m pleased with what I see and I take tiny tastes – since these cakes are, after all, tiny. Though Anita says she can make regular-sized cupcakes, these mini ones are her main gig.
I’m glad that Anita has expanded my notion of small tastes and big pleasures but there’s a caveat. Miniature cakes are relentlessly unpredictable when it comes to baking time. An off day or an oven that’s slightly off can spell the difference between a cake that’s baked just right or one that’s depressingly dry, which is what some of these cakes are. And rhapsodize about the delights of small bites, but these aren’t big enough to share. A bite is barely enough to relish these inspired pairings and it’s a burden to buy two of everything if I want to try them all.
Still, these cupcakes from Baked By Anita are worth the taste, if you haven’t already. This baker’s got a good understanding of balance between flavors and her combinations are the product of creative stimuli produced by paying attention.
Baked by Anita
“Cupcakes With Attitude”
0917 525 9740
(02) 736 2877