Heather Hepler has come out with a book for all those artists who love to decorate with frosting on a 2” circular canvas made of cake. “The Cupcake Queen” tells the story of the new bakery Penny’s mom has opened, which is good news. The bakery is 300 miles from civilization as Penny knows it, which is bad news. Our main character, Penny Lane (yes, the Beatles were involved), is horrified that her parents are apart, that she is far from everything she knows, and all the adults are silent, which is definitely not good. Oh, and do add heaping mounds of embarrassment that she was at the ruined birthday part of evil-one-all-in-pink, named Charity.
Throughout this story, Penny is unique and tries to define her sense of self. She does so with the help of her friend Tally, who “gets” her, even when Penny doesn’t get herself, not to mention that Tally helps to exact a fun sense of revenge on Charity and her gang’s pranks. Then there’s Marcus, a boy who survives a tragedy and holds life together for himself and his dad. He has a fabulous theory on Jolly Ranchers, as well. As Marcus puts it, “The flavor you pick says a lot about a person” and he goes on to explain:
"Grape people are artistic and like to be alone a lot.
Cherry people are nice.
Raspberry people are adventurous. Risk takers.
Watermelon people are popular.
Apple people try too hard.
Lemon people are mean. You don’t want to get on the bad side of lemon person."
In the end, Penny finds her way with this new life with its good news and its bad news all jumbled together. It's a story filled with the sweetness of cupcakes, friendship, and love.
If you are looking to find some great cupcakeries in the San Francisco Bay Area, here are my suggestions:
- My Kitchen – Best not to do a web search for this term. I actually mean “my very own kitchen at home” and that’s an invite-only situation.
With regards to commercial establishments (no invite required), my favorites are
- Love at First Bite Bakery in Berkeley - Take the In the Kitchen Tour with Lisa if you want to get up close and personal with food in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto.
- Vanilla Moon Bakery in San Carlos - the chocolate peanut butter cupcake is fab!
- Sprinkles in Palo Alto - the pumpkin cupcake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting...mmmm!
One place in particular that I would like to try is
- That Takes the Cake in San Francisco - Check out the names of their cupcakes AND they state that they’ve got the “reddest” red velvet cake ever? THIS I have got to see because the reddest ones are in My Kitchen (remember, invite-only situation!)
Interested in learning more about cupcake-ology as a specialty or baking as a general science? Great blogs exist for exactly this reason.