Gorilla cupcake?

Posted on February 20, 2011


What is it about cupcakes that has people going ga-ga?

cupcakes galore

Everywhere I look there are recipes in magazines; books and blogs dedicated to the art of making them; coffee shops filled with ladies-who-lunch chowing down on them; there’s an episode in Sex in The City where Carrie and Miranda dissect their love lives over sponge and buttercream and I’ve been to several weddings, where the happy couple have posed in front of a pile, tiered to a staggering height.

The cupcake phenomenon has whipped up such a sickly frenzy, that not to like them would just make you look like the anti-christ. Well, that’s me and The Northerner stuffed then.

This weekend a friend from Milton Keynes told me she was coming to London specifically for a hen-party centred around the sugar-coated blighters. That’s quite a distance to travel just for cake! But it seems there are no lengths that people aren’t willing to go to, even conservationists are benefiting in some small way from this tooth-jarringly sweet craze.

Gorilla cupcake sculpture

A life-size gorilla sculpture, made from hundreds of cupcakes was presented to Washington’s Smithsonian National Zoo in America, to celebrate the birthdays of the western lowland gorilla brothers Kojo and Kwame, turning nine and 11, respectively. The calorific-sculpture was filmed as part of a reality TV series on “DC Cupcakes” due to be aired next week. The programme features two bakers, who are sisters and own the company Georgetown Cupcake.

They’ve also created honey-banana cupcakes named “Gone Bananas” which they’re selling in their shops until March 4th. All the proceeds are being dedicated to the zoo’s conservation programs. During the episode next week, there’s an opportunity to see the primates at the zoo tucking into edible “gorilla cupcakes” made from bananas, primate biscuits, unflavoured gelatin, and water. Hmmmmmm sounds delicious.

The sisters have built their emporium out of love, sweat and large dollop of sugary endorsement from one of the world’s most influential women. You got it…….Oprah! If their cupcakes are good enough for her, pah…..then the primates…they got nothing to worry about. This duo say they baked 20 thousand cupcakes over Valentine’s weekend – now that’s bananas!

Smell of Sweet Success - Katherine Kallanis (right) and Sophie LaMontagne with Oprah

Click on this link to see them with Oprah. This clip is guaranteed to not only make The Northerner groan and cringe but possibly heave. I know some of you reading this however, will be scribbling down the recipe faster than I can say gas marked 5.

So what exactly is a cupcake? According to The Northerner there’s very little difference between this American creation and our humble British fairy cake.

As you know, he’s a chef. For his sins, he worked in the Big Apple for a few years as the executive head chef of one of the city’s exclusive members’ clubs. When the bite-sized explosion happened he was flabbergasted: “I don’t understand the fascination. Why do people feel the need to stand in a queue for hours, that goes around the block in Greenwich Village, for a fairy cake? It’s beyond me, maybe they like to have fat arses?!” That’s just his bitter-sweet charm. It grows on you after a while.

There’s much debate about the difference between a cupcake and a fairy cake, some “cake experts” say it’s the shape of the top – cupcakes apparently, being flat and fairy cakes domed. Bakers, on the other hand, say the difference between the two is really about size and topping: a classic cupcake, slathered in buttercream, is about twice the size of a fairy cake, which has a modest coating of fondant. And let’s not forget the 70/80’s inspired garnish of hundreds-and-thousands or those little silver-balls that went everywhere. I can still hear my mother’s voice ringing in my ears as she swept the kitchen floor.

The humble fairy cake

I can do cake, although at a push you’ll always find me ordering cheese over pudding. There’s no doubt the primates enjoyed their treat, but let’s face it, I doubt they gave a monkeys what shape it was in.