A bunch of cakes, and a question of flavourings

Posted on August 30, 2011


Seems like the Westside has picked up on an interesting trend; the mingling of two different businesses together. From my experience, it’s usually the pairing of a cafe with some retail business, and there’s a few good examples of that around town. Now just across the road from breakfast royalty is the very girly, rather twee A bunch of cakes (86 Hudsons Road, Spotswood VIC). Funnily enough, A bunch of cakes doesn’t sound particularly quaint – well not until you get to understand their dual businesses; a florist and cupcake store. This is a shop where bunches of flowers collide with stands of cupcakes. Now the name doesn’t seem quite so boorish anymore does it? In fact, one could say that it’s a little clever.

The interior of the place is lovely. Being a florist, you’re greeted with an intoxicating waft of fragrance as you enter. Lighting wise, they’ve gone for the very contemporary look of exposed light bulbs dangling off a long electrical leads. Towards your right is a comfy looking lounge, presumably to seat prospective customers wishing to discuss floral arrangements or cake orders in length. Yes, they do weddings I believe. Melbourne brides must be clapping their hands with glee; flowers and cake managed through a single provider? There’s half your wedding plans done!

The counter is set at the back of the store; this is also where the cupcake stands can be found. And don’t they look ever so pretty. The display works a treat for their marketing. I know this because my friend walked out nearly buying one of each flavour on show.

I on the other hand, demonstrated far more restraint and just sampled 2: the chocolate salted caramel and the lemon cupcake. The cupcakes themselves were fine and quite moist, but I was rather disappointed with chocolate salted caramel one. It looked all too promising, there was plenty of sticky caramel concealed inside. The problem: it just wasn’t salty. If they had just called it chocolate caramel, I would have no problems. But if you’re going to call something salty, please make sure you hit it with enough salt so that people can taste it!

Which brings me to my more general gripe with the flavouring of things, not just in commercial retail stores, but even in recipes; there’s never enough flavour. Of course I’m talking the more exotic or strange flavour combinations, where usually the more common flavour will dominate. For example, I bought a ginger and chocolate fudge where I couldn’t taste the ginger. In my own baking, I routinely double (or even triple) the flavourings in recipes just so I would be able to taste it. Why are the flavourings of things so subtle? Is it because they want to keep a broad mainstream appeal so the ‘new’ flavours are kept as neutral as they can?

I have considered the possibility that my taste buds are over-stimulated on a day-to-day basis and as such may have lost some sensitivity. Or perhaps it’s just a problem with modern society anyway? The fact that we are overexposed to fat, sugar and salt, so we constantly need more and more flavour to get that taste sensation? And perhaps the recipes we’re following are too dated to take this into account? I’m interested to get other people’s thoughts on this matter. Am I being unfair or is there something else at play here?