Monday, March 05, 2012

Cupcake Wars: Vegan Bake Off

Did you happen to catch last night's new episode of Cupcake Wars? Well just in case, let me recap for you!

Last night's episode of Cupcake Wars was the first all vegan episode! The bakeries were competing for the opportunity to serve their delicious and animal friendly treats at the Inaugural L.A. Green Festival.

The competitor's for this episode were:

New Cascadia Traditional from Portland, OR

Michy's Foods from Los Angeles, CA

Bliss Cakes by Stephanie Sparkles from Venice, CA

Two Birds Baking Co. from Huntington Beach, CA

This round challenged the bakers with locally grown fruits and vegetables, including but not limited to: clementines, sage, lemongrass, fennel, red peppers, coconut, avocados, etc.

NCT: Chocolate cake with sweet pepper lemongrass filling, avocado icing, vegan ganache and edible sprinkles. Also, this cupcake was gluten free. The judges were unanimously underwhelmed.

MF: Fennel cake, clementine buttercream with a candied sage leaf on top. All the judges loved the bright and fresh clementine flavor of the buttercream and creative nature of the fennel cake but were not too thrilled with the sage merely being a piece of decor.

BC: Corn cake, speckled with sweet red pepper, topped with creamy sage frosting, topped with parsley to lighten up the flavor and sweet red peppers. Judges loved the surprise of the cupcake being sweet over savory but again cautioned the use of the required third ingredient as a garnish.

TBBC: Clementine fennel cupcake, vegan vanilla buttercream frosting, with balsamic glazed figs on top. The balsamic reduction overpowered all the other flavors in the cupcake.

Eliminated: Two Birds Baking Co.

This round challenged the bakers on showcasing "living green" through their cupcakes. As we all know in this round judging is based on 50% taste and 50% presentation.

NCT: Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Orange Frosting and topped with chopped hazelnuts
Molasses Spice Cupcake filled with Apple Butter topped with Cinnamon Molasses Icing
Zucchini Raisin Cupcake with Ginger Nutmeg Cream Cheese Icing.
Judges: Delicate decorations but not WOW for the second round. Overall taste was delicious.

MF: Apple Cinnamon Cupcake filled with caramel, topped with Cinnamon Buttercream, Caramel Drizzle and crushed peanuts.
Gingerbread Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting topped with crushed gingerbread cookies
S'mores Cupcake filled with a marshmallow with Chocolate Ganache, toasted marshmallow and crushed graham crackers.
Judges: Mixed review on the decor. Mixed reviews on the technical aspects of cupcakes (cook times).

BC: Matcha Vanilla Raspberry Cupcake with Matcha Green Tea Frosting topped with a raspberry and mint leaf
Mayan Spice Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing
Tangerine Poppyseed with Lavender Frosting, Coconut Cream filling and fresh tangerines and lavender flowers on top.
Judges: Decorations = LOVED. Cupcakes were a bit over baked, too much going on in the Lavender cupcake, suggested removal of the coconut cream.

Eliminated: Michy's Foods

Create a 1000 cupcake display for the event.

NCT: Display was tree-like cupcake tiers made up of reclaimed wood done in an upwards manner making the display 360 degrees

BC: Display was imagined off of a vertical cupcake garden. Made up of recycled wood, bamboo, fresh herb garden below, the piece can be reused after the event as a real vertical garden.

WINNER: Bliss Cakes by Stephanie Sparkles

This was a more interesting episode of Cupcake Wars. As bakers and foodies, we're always learning new methods of cooking and new things to try. This episode definitely showcased the intricacies of vegan baking and really opened me up to trying out some vegan recipes for myself!