By Alexandra Scarber
I’m an avid baker with an extreme love for jumbo cupcakes decorated only to the tens. Avoiding salty foods is no struggle for me, but if it’s a dessert, no questions asked; I’m going to be eating whatever it is with no regrets, at least while I’m eating it. While running or swimming off the calories, I may sing a different tune. Reviewing restaurants is all fun and games, but bakeries is a whole new level of fun.
To start the cupcake adventure, my dad who was home for the weekend (he has been living in Washington, D.C. since February for his job, so yay) drove us to Louisville, where Annie Mays Sweet Cafe is located. The mini “parking lot” has three spots, but that’s sufficient, and the restaurant is easily wheelchair accessible. Annie May’s is a nut and gluten free bakery that also offers vegan and dairy free desserts. I wanted to try vegan cupcakes and compare them to regular cupcakes, so this was a great place because there are many vegan options. The bakery has light pink walls with checkered black and white tile floors. The table and chairs are old fashioned with a retro diner like style. The walls are decorated with black and white shots of desserts being baked except for one image of a completed light pink cake that is in full color and slightly larger than all of the other shots.
The decision was very tough, but I eventually decided on my two cupcakes, one a vanilla cake and strawberry buttercream (with no cream) frosting, and a carrot cake with vanilla buttercream (with no cream) frosting. The total cost was $6.01 and if you are thinking to yourself right now that if I paid that much for two cupcakes, I’m crazy, don’t worry. I’m not. Annie May’s is gluten free, which means they can’t use white flour because it contains gluten. Instead, they have to use bran flour, which is very expensive, and in place of butter, they use coconut oil, which is also extremely expensive compared to its non-vegan counterpart. A 48-ounce container of regular canola oil costs $3.14 from Target and 48 ounces of coconut oil from Amazon costs $29.50, which used on an everyday basis to replace butter can quickly add up, so Annie May’s has to charge more for vegan desserts that contain the coconut oil.
If a food is vegan, it means there are no animal products, including any animal byproducts as well. This makes baking especially difficult because butter is a main component in most types of frosting, and eggs are a main component in both the frosting, if it is a meringue, and the cake itself because it binds all of the wet and dry ingredients together. Two items you wouldn’t think about, but are on the no-no list are honey, which comes from bees, and gelatin aka animal bone marrow, and it’s used as a thickener in gummy candies, marshmallows, and is the main ingredient in Jell-O. To say the least, going vegan is difficult, which is why places like Annie May’s are a great option for all the vegans in the world.
Although not all of the food is vegan, it is all nut and gluten free, but they do have a large selection that is vegan. The desserts available at Annie May’s include homemade pop tarts, cupcakes, brownies, blondies, ice cream, cakes, massive donuts, ginormous muffins, cookies filled with buttercream frosting and dipped in chocolate, and what they are most known for, their homemade oatmeal cream pies. There is also a small food menu that includes soups and sandwiches as well, but the focus is on the sweets and treats.
After I picked out the cupcakes at Annie May’s, I plugged the address into my dad’s GPS on his phone to the Adrienne and Co. that is located in New Albany. The bakery is across the street from the Grand and is easily accessible for wheelchairs, although the parking job is a bit difficult as the slots are slanted. Adrienne and Co. has three locations, one in New Albany, Jeffersonville, and Floyds Knobs. New Albany location has the best dessert selection, Floyds Knobs has the best donut selection, and the Jeffersonville location has the best food variety. I chose the New Albany location because they have the best cupcake selection.
The bakery has a rustic; yet; cute feel. There are twinkle lights hanging throughout, and the rough wood floors have darker color tones throughout. The bakery has a small food menu, but the emphasis is clearly on the desserts. The first thing my eyes landed on when I walked through the doors was a glorious display of all the desserts. From massive cupcakes, humongous blondie bars, brownies drowning with fudge frosting, cheesecakes, cannolis, donuts, sticky buns, and massive cookies, the decisions are endless.
I was going to order the jumbo carrot cupcake and the jumbo vanilla cupcakes which are $4.99 each, but soon realized that with my $5 coupon I received from purchasing so much (my family and I really do frequent the shops too much) that it would be smarter to buy a six pack of regular sized cupcakes instead. For those of you who are thinking to yourselves holy cow that is ridiculous to pay that much for a cupcake, you have to remember that each cupcake is frosted, filled, and decorated with only the finest ingredients. They use almond extract for their frosting, which is expensive ringing in at a whopping $12.32 for a 4-ounce bottle. I chose to review the regular sized vanilla and the regular sized carrot cake because that is what I had already bought from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe. I let my family eat the rest of the six pack which included strawberry, red velvet, banana walnut, and chocolate because I was already eating four cupcakes at once and even for a cupcake lover like me, that’s quite a lot of sugar in one sitting.
When I got home, the first thing I did was weigh each cupcake because there was a very noticeable difference in the weight of the regular vs vegan cupcakes. I weighed in grams and the vegan carrot weighed 2.4, the vegan vanilla weighed 2.5, the regular carrot weighed 1.6, and the regular vanilla weighed 1.2. The vegan cupcakes most likely weighed more because they were much more dense because they were baked with the bran flour, and the regular cupcake weighed much less because they were baked with regular flour which makes for a much lighter, airier cake. The difference in grams between the two vegan ones was most likely the very slight difference in the amount of frosting, and the difference between the regular carrot and vanilla can be accredited to the fact that the carrot had raisin, pineapple, and pecan chunks and the vanilla had nothing besides the light whipped cream, which the carrot had as well.
Review of cupcakes taste and appearance:
Vegan vanilla: This cake was much less dense than the vegan carrot and had large bubbles from the cupcake rising during baking. The cake was chewy with a bran flavor and a slight pokey texture. I picked up on a slight hint of vanilla from either vanilla extract or actual vanilla bean. The cake had spilled over the cupcake pan a little on the left when baked, which caused it to appear a bit lopsided, but it did not affect the taste. The frosting was very thick with a creamy texture, very sweet, and had a light and refreshing strawberry taste. The little rainbow sprinkle beads were meant to be cute and contributed little to no taste. The frosting was put on with, if they use Wilton frosting tips, a #31. The frosting was neat and professional with no visible mistakes.
Vegan carrot: This cake very dense and had very little bubbles from the cupcakes rising during baking. The cake had a subtle carrot taste with a hint of cinnamon. This cake was less grainy than the vanilla, but was a little dry. The flavor bran was there from the flour in the cake. The frosting was very thick, sweet, creamy, and tasted of vanilla. Cinnamon was sprinkled on top and finished the cupcake off quite nicely. The frosting was put on with, if they use Wilton frosting tips, a #31. The frosting was neat and professional with no visible mistakes.
Regular vanilla: This cake was very fluffy and light, but it could have done with a minute or two less in the oven because the top and bottom of the cupcakes was a little too browned for my taste. The texture reminded me of angel food cake, and I didn’t pick up on any flavor except for vanilla, which is expected. The filing was whipped cream, and it put in the center of the cake with the correct depth. The frosting knocked me over with the strong flavor of almond extract, which I enjoyed. The taste of almond extract is very distinctive, so some people do not like it, but I find it a unique twist from the regular butter-creams. If you do not like the taste of almond extract, I advise you to either ask the cashier if the cupcake you want has almond extract or to order something other than cupcakes. This is because the majority of their cupcakes have almond extract in them. The cupcake was frosted with, if they use Wilton frosting tips, a #109. The sprinkles were a cute finish that contributed no real taste to a delicious cupcake.
Regular carrot: This cake was very moist and bubbled from baking. The cake tasted strongly of carrots, but Adrienne modified the original carrot cake by adding in raisins, pineapple chunks, and chopped pecans. I found this twist delicious, but I believe they should have this posted on an allergens warning board because if someone were to have a pineapple or raisin allergy, they would most likely not expect to find pineapple chunks or raisins in a carrot cake cupcake. The filling tasted as it should, light and creamy, but was filled entirely off center. The cream cheese frosting was creamy, milky, and sweet with a chopped up pecan and a perfectly piped miniature carrot to finish off the cake. The cupcake was frosted with, if they use Wilton, a #12. They most likely used a #7 for the miniature carrot.
Adrienne & Co.
Location: 133 E. Market Street New Albany, IN 47150
Accessible by: SHANE@CAKESTODAY.COM or (812) 949-2334
This bakery is accessible to wheelchairs.
Hours: Closed-Monday, Tuesday through Friday 7a.m. to 2p.m., and Saturday & Sunday 8a.m. to 2p.m.
Grade: Decoration A+, frosting A, filling A, and cake A
Annie May’s Sweet Cafe
Location: 3110 Frankfort Avenue Louisville KY 4026.
Accessible by: firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 384-2667
This bakery is accessible to wheelchairs.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 9a.m. to 6p.m. Saturday: 9a.m. to 3p.m. Sunday – Monday: Closed
Grade: Decoration A, frosting A+, and cake B