Cupcakes rise to the occasion in Cairns
Who knew demand for an innocent little cake piled high with a rich and creamy topping could get so out of control.
The cupcake, which became food du jour a couple of years ago, is still going strong. And no macaroon, whoopee pie or cake pop has had the sugary power to knock the humble little cake off its podium.
A small army of cooks are marching out literally hundreds of the little cakes each week to meet the voracious cupcake appetites of the Far Northern public.
One thing is certain, business is booming in the world of cupcakes.
"Cupcakes take you back to your childhood and you don't feel as guilty when you are having just one," Lyndsey Crossland of Cupcake Creations on Sheridan St says.
"They are just so versatile and you can do so much with them. When you buy a cake you are getting the one cake but when you buy a box (of cupcakes) you can get variety.
"I think they are still going strong. If you have a really good product that's really consistent then you are going to stick around."
'Going strong' is an understatement.
Lyndsey pumps out 150 cupcakes each day for her shop cabinet. Throw in orders, which mostly come in for the weekend, and she can be creating up to 600 cupcakes in one day – the batter, icing and intricate topping decorations made completely from scratch.
"I'm like a mad mouse on a treadmill," she says. "I could probably hire staff but I'm also very conscious not to get too big too quickly. People are constantly asking me 'when are you opening a franchise'."
Before cupcakes, Lyndsey was a preschool teacher working overseas. She missed home and wanted a change, so returned and worked in retail for two years. A love of baking was the seed of her cupcake business, which grew into home baking for friends and flourished into the purchase of her Sheridan St shop in 2010.
She says opening during the Global Financial Crisis was daunting but business has been steadily booming since she launched.
Lyndsey's red velvet with cream cheese frosting cupcake is her biggest seller. Otherwise, her cabinet is full of 11 other tried and tested flavours.
She has noticed a growing demand for wedding cupcake towers, something Aidan Farnsworth of Sweet Serenity agrees with.
"People are wanting more than traditional wedding cakes these days," Aidan says.
"People are also willing to try different flavours. I am working on a pumpkin and choc chip cupcake and experimenting with sweet potato at the moment."
Aidan is digitalising the world of cupcakes.
He has just signed up to the txt4coffee phone app which allows users to order his cupcakes while he operates from Rusty's on weekends.
An avid Facebook promoter, part of Aidan's grand plan is to introduce his own app which will allow users to order direct from him and follow his movements as he visits markets throughout the region.
He prepares up to 350 cupcakes each weekend and, like the other cupcake creators "fell into the trade" by chance. Also like the other cupcake creators, he prides himself on making everything from scratch, and incorporating local ingredients wherever he can.
"There are 36 different flavours on my list and I am always coming up with different flavours," he says.
Daintree vanilla salt is used for his salted caramel cupcake while cherries are boiled down to create his cherry ripe cupcake. His most popular sellers are triple devil and red velvet with a white chocolate cheesecake frosting.
"It's a lot of hard work. I am constantly training myself and to move on to the next big thing. I've done a lot of training days in social media. Ninety per cent of my business would come through Facebook."
Excitingly, Aidan will launch Plan B Cafe, a kids playground and cafe, early next month in Edmonton with co-owner Leigh Dall'Osto, a direction that fellow cupcake creator Stacy Copelin of Seven Stars Cupcakery is also heading in.
Stacy, who aside from orders, sells cupcakes from Rusty's on Fridays, will open her Seven Stars Cupcakery milk bar on Shields St next to Bellocale and Kanpai by her business’s second birthday in October.
Baking for family and friends was the beginning of a long-term plan for Stacy to turn her hobby into a profession. After 14 years in the dental industry, Stacy soon realised it wasn't enough, so she began to search for her passion.
In October, 2010, she launched Seven Stars Cupcakery and has loved it ever since.
"From the start my whole thing was about having so many different flavours," she says. "I've got all my regular customers and they get excited every week to see my flavours. I always have chocolate and vanilla and I try to introduce one new flavour a week. I had chocolate liquorice today which was well received.
"Cupcakes are just so easy to eat and they are so delicious. You can do so much with a cupcake."
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Top job: From cupcakes to renovations, Stacy Copelin of Seven Stars Cupcakery is preparing to launch her milk bar in the city soon. photo // anna rogers