August 20, 2010
Anytime you’re in New York City, you can always find delicious specialty cafes, eateries and bakeries lining the busy streets. From the delicious artisanal ice cream truck that’s parked along the curb, like that of Van Leeuwen, to the popular vegan bakery Babycakes, I either stumble upon these tasty finds luckily or I hear about them from magazines or by word of mouth.
During a recent trip to New York, I made sure that I didn’t leave without stopping by Babycakes NYC. I found out about this bakery when their cookbook of the same name, by founder Erin McKenna, with its cover photo of enticing chocolate cupcakes caught my eye in the bookstore. I’m fascinated by vegan baking, because that’s one of the biggest things that would keep me from going vegan – delicious, flaky, moist, buttery baked goods!
I mean, a flaky pie crust without butter? A cake without the flavorful soft moisture from milk and eggs? I could go on and on. Let’s face it, butter, milk, cream and eggs all play key pivotal roles in baking! But, those who’ve done away with animal-based products in their diet swear that vegan baking is oh, so delicious and healthier for you.
So, I experiment every now and then with vegan baking to see if it’s really possible to get great baked goods without dairy and eggs, but I’m still not completely sold. Some things lend themselves well to vegan conversions (quick breads, some cookies and cupcakes) and some things you should just leave ‘well enough alone’ (biscuits, piecrusts). However, I’ll admit that I can see why Babycakes has a large batch of fans, including loyal customers who reportedly eat everything under the sun, including dairy and eggs, but go to Babycakes simply for the flavor.
Settling into my seat in the corner of the small bakery with pink walls hung with pictures of Babycakes’ celebrity fans, I sunk my teeth into a vanilla cupcake with naturally colored pink frosting. It was truly delicious — the texture soft; the frosting creamy. The gluten-free chocolate on chocolate cupcake that I tried was also tasty, although, I wasn’t crazy about the dense texture.
Lastly, I indulged in one of their double chocolate chip cookies, which I had tried to make at home following the recipe from the cookbook. Mine didn’t turn out so well, but the ones from the bakery were good and just as the recipe described — crisp on the edges and soft in the center. I then realized that my problem when I made the cookies was just as Erin McKenna warned in the book, measure all ingredients exactly and melt the coconut oil (a butter substitute) completely before measuring. You can’t mess around with baking; it’s a science, especially with vegan baking.
Despite my reservations about vegan baking, I can attest that Babycakes NYC and the cookbook Babycakes are both worthy of your time, cash and taste buds.