The search for Ottawa’s perfect cupcake: Part II – The Flour Shoppe
Hilary Duff (blog/Twitter) is a quirky 20-year-old who loves multimedia journalism, cycling, food blogging, and churning massive amounts of baked goods out of her cramped student kitchen. When she’s not living the chaotically busy life of a Carleton journalism student, she also enjoys winter jogging and exploring the ins and outs of her Ottawa neighbourhood.
She is currently writing an LTOttawa series on her hunt for Ottawa’s perfect cupcake.
Since I’ve been talking about my cupcake challenge non-stop with my five roommates, they couldn’t resist the opportunity to accompany me for a review. As a result, five of us piled into my roommate’s small hatchback and, surrounded by her arsenal of cross-country skiing equipment, drove down to The Flour Shoppe at the edge of the Glebe.
Unlike many of the other cupcakes that I’ll be reviewing, I’d tried The Flour Shoppe cupcakes before.
Like many restaurants and bakeries in Ottawa, The Flour Shoppe has a great online presence. An example of their social media savvy is how on slow days they sometimes use Twitter to post neat little challenges in order to rally people into coming to their shop. One challenge I responded to was “the next ten people to come in and say ‘tweet, tweet’ get a free cupcake.” When I see these messages pop up on my Twitter homepage I have absolutely no choice but to somehow get down to the shop and claim what is rightfully mine. On occasion I have been in class for these announcements, and have promptly texted my roommates telling them to get down there and grab their share of the glory.
My obsession with free cupcakes has brought me to the shop in snowstorms and mini-typhoons. What can I say? I’m hooked.
But on to the review…
Distracted as I may be by the setting of the shop, it is impossible to miss the cupcake display. Behind a glass pane are the objects of my affection: small cupcakes sitting upon white pedestals.
As I inch my nose closer to the glass I feel as though I’m a small child intently examining some sort of museum display.
Behind the counter stand two steel racks, holding identically cloned versions of the cupcakes on display. To further emphasize this artful showcase, track lights line the ceiling, directing light towards the main dessert attractions.
As for flavour diversity, I’d like to send a major kudos to The Flour Shoppe for their wide variety. If you go online you can see the shop’s flavour schedule for the week, featuring everything from an Earl Gray flavour (another of my favourite hot drinks in cupcake form, I see a trend!) to s’mores, maple brown sugar to toasted coconut lime. Since I’ve decided that I’m either going to ask an employee for their cupcake recommendation or try a shop’s featured flavour, I settled on Sunday’s feature: a toffee almond cupcake with chocolate ganache.
Sitting down to eat my cupcake, I made a few preliminary notes. I immediately notice that The Flour Shoppe focused way more on icing than Thimble Cakes, with each cupcake donning a perfectly-piped frosting chapeau.
Carefully peeling down my cupcake liner, I take my first bite.
To tell you the truth, it was a little underwhelming. The icing was delicious and rich with a nice crunch of almonds, but was contrasted by a cake that I thought to be a tad dry and crumbly. This may be just a personal thing, but I love a moist cupcake, and this one just didn’t cut it for me. By the end of my cupcake, I had a large pile of crumbs surrounding me on the table. Although I quickly blotted the tiny morsels up and popped them in my mouth, it meant that almost as much time was dedicated to eating crumbs as it was to enjoying my cupcake as a whole.
I will, however, say that this cake issue may just be with a few flavours; I tried a bite of my roommate’s carrot cupcake and was met by the most wonderful and moist ginger zing.
While my roommates and I were eating our cupcakes, the shop maintained a steady Sunday buzz, with a young family sitting next to us and several people coming in as we were leaving. Although The Flour Shoppe may not have the same cozy “I’ll stay here for hours” feel as Thimble Cakes, the shop is a nice place to drop by for an afternoon treat. Heck, with four tables, you might as well bring the whole family.
Final verdict? You should probably go and try the flavours for yourself, since the icing/cake probably varies greatly for each. With all the variety available, there is sure to be a unique flavour to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
Cupcake personality: ***½
Cupcake overall: ***
Store atmosphere: ***
Want to check out The Flour Shoppe? It is located at 617 Bank Street (at Strathcona). Do you know a cupcake shop that Hilary should try? Leave a comment below.