The Quest for Cupcakes in Madrid

From SU Madrid student Caitlin Dewey’s blog.


In the Caitlin school of culinary arts, which I suppose only I subscribe to, cupcakes are the great accomplishment of American cuisine. Forget hot dogs or hamburgers or quesadillas – all three of which, interestingly, you will find on the menus of Madrid’s “American restaurants” – cupcakes are America’s great gift to the world. They are delicious. They are adorable.

And as soon as I realized they’re not available in Spain, I desperately wanted one.

I began by describing my quandary to the ever-wise Luisa, hoping she would chime in with the name of a nearby pastelería known for its frosting-topped treats.

“Es un pastel pequeño,” I explained, making a gesture with my hands. “Como así.” (It’s a small cake – like this).

“Chocolate? Vainilla?” She replied.

I could tell that this was going nowhere.

Later, I tried to find the word for “cupcake” in a Spanish dictionary. Such a search is pretty fruitless: after checking two Web sites and an iPhone app, you will be left with the unsavory choice between “bizcocho moldeado en forma de taza” and “tortita individual” (“sponge cake molded in the shape of a cup” and “little individual cake,” respectively).

You will also find this hilarious Word Reference thread, in which Spanish speakers debate the differences between muffins and cupcakes. Highly recommended.

Anyway, in my desperation, I turned to Google for help and typed a lame “cupcakes Madrid” into the search. Lo and behold! Some on-trend, SEO-savvy baker decided to open up a place called “Cupcake Madrid” just 20 minutes from my school.

Considering this a small miracle and a sight to be seen at once, I persuaded a few friends to make the trek to Calle Velazquez during lunch yesterday. We all crammed into this tiny shop and huddled around the counter in amazement, seemingly bewildered by the limited selection of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon cupcakes.

After making our choices, we sat and ate them on a bench outside, watching as literally every person who walked down the street stopped outside the bakery window to wrinkle their noses at the display case.

 Incidentally, the cupcakes looked slightly better than they tasted. I had double chocolate, which was half good: the cake was pretty solid, the frosting pretty grainy (full disclosure: I’m not a buttercream frosting fan). As for price, we each dished out 2.50€, which translates to roughly $4 USD.

 All in all well worth it, but not quite like home.

 This leaves me little choice but to try the goods at Pan de Azúcar, the gourmet cupcake outfit in Madrid. I will rationalize the absurd price tag with this glowing write-up from Esquire Spain. Also, the fact that they have green tea, wasabi and pumpkin-flavored cupcakes (!!).

 Could I persuade my friends to split a 30€ box of cupcakes? Do I even like cupcakes that much?

 What am I saying! Of course I do.


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