Tuesday, April 3, 2012


It's much easier to get your 10,000 steps a day when you know that about 5,000 of them will land you at the door to a bakery. I don't consider this a foolish negation of the benefits of daily exercise; I consider it the ideal motivation. I've come to realize that it's my genetic destiny to eat dessert (a small one — and only one — these days), so it's only to the good if I have to walk five or six miles to get it.

Let me digress for a moment by recommending this excellent article on why vigorous exercise probably won't help you lose weight.  It seems that people don't lose weight when they wear ourselves out on cardio machines because it just makes them hungrier. A few periods of vigorous exercise every week is good for the heart, brain, and spirit, but not for the waistline, it seems. For weight loss, it's better to eat sensibly and be moderately active as much as possible. Sitting around and eating cupcakes for the rest of the day after you wrecked yourself on the elliptical machine is a typical behavior: We tend to overeat to compensate for exhausting exercise. But it appears that slow and steady exercise — and lots of it — helps keep weight off even if it won't make you skinny. Only the right diet can do that. So, it seems to me that walking a long distance to get a cupcake is a decent tradeoff. Especially if you're gonna eat that thing anyway. And stop at one.

In my eternal quest for steps and delicious cake and frosting, last week I walked to Crumbs Bake Shop, over by South Station. (I got lost in the business district's winding streets, which meant hundreds of extra steps. Even getting lost gets a positive spin when you carry a pedometer.)

Crumbs is owned by Mia and Jason Bauer, who seem quite nice from everything I read on their website. They are both alums of local colleges (Brandeis, BU), although they live in Manhattan and opened their first store there. They now have a large chain of cupcake stores on both coasts. More power to them.

But as you know, I wouldn't care if the store was owned by serial killers as long as the cupcakes were tasty and they weren't baking them along the lines of Mrs. Lovett's meat pies in Sweeney Todd.  What a disgusting film that was... but I digress again.

In the photo below, you can see some of the flavors; they had an impressive variety, even at the end of the day: Red Velvet, Carrot Cake, Chocolate or Vanilla with Coconut Frosting, Coffee Toffee, Caramel Apple, M&M, the Imitation Hostess® Squiggle, etc. They also sell all kinds of coffee drinks as well as a few layer cakes.

All the special flavors are $3.95 each. Their basic or "signature" cupcake is $2.95 – chocolate or vanilla cake with your choice of contrasting or matching frosting, plus a border of rainbow sprinkles. I was most interested in those. They were out of the chocolate-cake ones, so I contented myself with vanilla and was not disappointed:

Before you take a bite, the cupcake appears to have a big, exciting mound of frosting on top. But in reality, the cake rises up so you aren't getting nearly as much frosting as you expected. What you do get is very good overall — strongly reminiscent of the best of the classic birthday cupcakes that mothers would bake from scratch when you were in grade school. So often, cupcakes from local shops (I mean you, KickA**) taste dry and bland, like plain muffins or biscuits tarted up with frosting. These are cake: moist, sweet, and dense. The chocolate frosting is sweet without being greasy, gritty, or too rich and cloying. (Vanilla frosting should be almost painfully sweet; I just prefer milk chocolate. My husband loved his vanilla.)

I don't find "Crumbs" an appealing name, since it sounds like their cupcakes might be so dry that they fall apart and make a crumby mess.* They do not. They were equally tasty the next day.... I ordered four, you see. They gave them to me in a protective, clear-plastic six-pack box and I may have gotten a volume discount, too (money was no object at the time, so I never checked my credit-card receipt). I carried them home in a big, shiny plastic shopping bag with such a prominent logo that I felt like a walking ad for the place. But it was worth it. I'll certainly be doing it again.

*I have the same problem with names like "The Water CafĂ©." All they serve is water? Who's hungry for that?  "Flour Bakery" also sounds very dry and dusty to me, too. I'd rather go to the "Butter" or "Sugar" bakery.  And what about "Clear Flour"? See-through bread? Seriously? With even more holes than my Iggy's Francese? 

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