Buttercup Bake Shop -- Cupcake Seduction

Jun 5, 2001 (Updated Jan 23, 2003)

The Bottom Line The Buttercup Bake Shop is a cheerful little bakery serving old-fashioned treats that seduce and delight the senses. Located uptown on the East Side.

When you walk into the Buttercup Bake Shop, look to your right, cupcakes; and in a dozen varieties. Each $1.50, but don’t bother reaching, they are protected behind a pastry case. That is the first thing you should know, that there is no self-service here. This is not The Magnolia Bakery; this is the Buttercup Bake Shop, not affiliated with the former.

In case you were wondering, the Buttercup Bake Shop was founded by Jennifer Appel, one of original partners of the aforementioned bakery in the West Village (note 1). When I casually inquired about that place, there seemed to be a sour note in the reply. I didn’t say anything further.

It is obvious that the Buttercup Bake Shop has a style distancing itself from the more famous sister. It is a contemporary design that recycles the old into the new. The lemon pastel colored walls that are cheerful like Prozac, the shiny new pressed tin ceiling, air conditioning, and packets of Equal in the condiment bin. No fresh buttery cake smell here, all the baking and mystery is done behind closed doors in their ultra modern kitchen. Even the baking posters that hang on the walls are modern reproductions.

The only thing that is missing from Buttercup was the energy, and the ambience that came with eating old-fashioned treats. What I liked most about The Magnolia Bakery was here was this divey little place in a quiet corner of the Village where you go for fresh cakes. It is always crowded with people, and there is at least 7-8 people working behind the counter in a space less than half as small as the Buttercup Bake Shop. The Magnolia Bakery kept pace with demand as best as it could, and never sacrificed quality. The place always moved with energy. Not so with the Buttercup Bake Shop. It had a mere two employees, and a trickle of customers.

Even with a smaller crowd, the bakeshop makes its fair share of cupcakes. Each 2.5 inch golden, or chocolate cake is topped with a lot of bright pastel colored buttery vanilla icing that almost melts in your mouth like ice cream. The frosting was a bit stiff and a bit sugary but delicious nonetheless. Just a mere taste of one of these little cakes can induce a blissful state being so wonderfully good. See note 2 for recipe.

What is also good about these cupcakes is the sheer variety of them, over a dozen flavors. One of Buttercup’s specialties is Lady Baltimore complete with a cherry on top that will even convert traditionalists who usually stick with plain golden with vanilla buttercream frosting.

The cakes the bakeshop makes are just as good. Each is made from an old-fashioned recipe, and baked to perfection. They have many varieties ranging from Chocolate Buttermilk, to Lady Baltimore. There is even Icebox Cake and many others. Prices range from $18-20.00 for a 3-layer 6-inch cake, to $40.00 for a 3-layer 9-inch cake.

Should you find these treats too elegant, one can still retreat to old-fashioned Rice Crispy Treats ($2.50), and large bowls of Banana Nilla Pudding. Overall, the Buttercup Bake Shop is a great place to go when you are on the East Side, and with one thought on your mind, yummy cakes.

Buttercup Bake Shop
973 Second Avenue (51st and 52nd Street)
New York, NY. 10022
212 350 4144
Cash and credit cards.

Read a review of The Magnolia Bakery. Get info on the Buttercup Bakeshop Cookbook.

1) Recipe is located in my companion review, see note 1.

check out my other NYC food reviews here

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