Party-ready cake and cupcake stands, sweet-as-can-be cupcake tags and decorations, and fresh flowers in water at every table – The Wedding Cake Shoppe is a bright and fresh wedding cake and cupcake emporium with enough whimsy and happiness to brighten even the cloudiest of days. The Wedding Cake Shoppe, as a wedding cake decorating company, has been in operation for 7 years, while the retail storefront located on College Street just west of Ossington Ave., is celebrating its 3rd in Toronto later on this month. Sisters Cindy and Sarah Coelho are the pastry chefs, artists, and brains behind the business and I was lucky enough to chat with Cindy during my time at the shop where we talked about cupcakes (surprise, surprise!), our passions and work, and swiss meringue buttercream!
Although the shop is known for its beautiful, larger-than-life wedding cakes, cupcakes happily share some of that limelight. Awash in pastels, cute polka dots, and swiss dots, the shop has over 20 different rotating flavours of cupcake cake and frosting to satisfy every kind of sweet tooth. Chocoholic? Check. Fruity tooty? Check. Coffee drink addict? Check, check, and check. What sets The Wedding Cake Shoppe’s cupcakes apart from many other bakeries in the city is its use of different buttercreams and frostings. While many shops and businesses mainly stick to one or two types of frosting, Cindy and Sarah use a mix of cream cheese frosting, chocolate ganache, and swiss meringue buttercream to frost their cupcakes, making their cupcakes more fluffy, whipped, and airy as opposed to thick and sickly sweet.
In a nutshell, swiss meringue buttercream is a frosting that requires more time, technical skill, and careful observation to prepare than American buttercream (icing sugar + butter) because of its use of egg whites. Egg whites are whisked into a bowl of granulated white sugar (notice the absence of icing or confectioners sugar; big difference!) set over a simmering pot of water. The sugar and egg white mixture is then whisked in a mixer to create a meringue base. This meringue base is then mixed with butter and flavouring (fruit, extracts, whatever your heart desires) to form a smooth, velvety, swiss meringue buttercream.
The reason why it requires it little more technique and observation is because 1) the sugar and egg white mixture has to reach a specific temperature before it can be whisked into a meringue, which would require you to have a candy thermometer on hand if you were make it on your own, 2) all equipment must be clean as a whistle and completely and utterly devoid of any oil or grease because even a dot of oil will make a meringue deflate and run flat (I learned this important nugget of information from watching Michael Smith’s Chef at Home on the Food Network! I feel proud), and 3) meringue needs to be whisked for a good chunk of time before it can get to its desired consistency.
In addition, swiss meringue buttercream must be served at room temperature. Even the slightest chill will cause the meringue buttercream to harden and you end up with this unsavoury consistency that does nothing for the cupcake. While other frostings will taste good after being defrosted, swiss meringue buttercream won’t. It just won’t go back to its previous state the same way, which is why it can be fickle at times as well. Even with the extra effort though, the result is worth it because you get this beautiful, fluffy frosting that’s so airy and light and really malleable to work with in terms of piping and frosting.
On this particular day, there was a selection of red velvet with cream cheese frosting, mint chocolate, toasted coconut, cappuccino, chocolate truffle, vanilla bean, peanut butter, and sweet summer strawberry. Cupcakes are $2.65 a pop and the best part is that you can enjoy your cupcake(s) right inside the shop with a dainty little plate and fork! I love the shop because it’s gorgeous, yes, but what makes my heart flutter is its welcoming, airy atmosphere and cheerfulness. There’s a certain air of tranquility and quiet beauty about the shop that just opens up your heart and makes you feel at home. It’s a big, beautiful space with shiny hard-wood floors, bright white tables with wood-finished chairs, and gorgeous glittery chandeliers and lanterns hanging from the ceiling. With its huge front window and roomy tables and chairs, it’s the best place to sit back with a cupcake and that’s exactly what I did.
I had myself a Summer Strawberry cupcake and it was beautiful inside and out. It had the prettiest ballet tutu pink swiss meringue with Easter pastel sprinkles on top. So pretty, so ME! If you prefer a more natural tasting cupcake that isn’t so sweet, the swiss meringue buttercream on The Wedding Cake Shoppe’s vanilla cake is the way to go. My parents would absolutely ADORE these cupcakes because the flavouring, texture, and taste of the frosting is much more mellow in a sense, and something you’d actually be able to stomach and eat in constract to other frostings that are too overwhelming. I have friends who will actually scrape off a lot of the frosting when they eat a cupcake because it’s either too sweet for them or too overwhelming. Those same friends would not have that problem with Wedding Cake Shoppe’s cupcakes, at all.
If I could describe how the strawberry frosting tasted, I’d say it taste like an actual strawberry (not strawberry ice cream, pocky, mousse, juice, or anything else), but with the tartness volume dial turned waaaaay down. When I ate it, I thought, “Ooo, this would be great for a summer picnic!” , the kind of thing you’d envision yourself eating on one of those lazy, summer days. It has a very mellow flavour to it, so if you like in-your-face, over-the-top punchy, this one probably won’t be for you, but I know many who would appreciate it. I was especially over the moon about the vanilla cake. This is by far, one of the BEST vanilla cakes I have ever had. Top 2, definitely. You can actually see the little black vanilla bean flecks in the cake when you eat. It’s amazing and I love it to death.
There’s another reason why The Wedding Cake Shoppe has struck such a chord with me and it has to do with the documentation of memory. It’s something I’m really excited to flush out and talk about, but I’m going to save that discussion for our next Wedding Cake Shoppe visit. There’s much more this story that I want to explore and discuss so for now, we’ll save the dialogue for the next time and daydream about spring pastels and petal pink cupcakes in the meantime.
The Wedding Cake Shoppe is located at 859 College Street, just west of Ossington Ave. They are open 6 days a week (closed on Tuesdays) and their weekday hours are from 11am-7pm, weekend hours from 11am-5pm. You can check out their official website here, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. A special thank you to Cindy let me go crazy with the photos and who took the time to talk to me, thank you!