Friday, November 21, 2008

Not so Fancy "Cakes" by Leslie.

Fancy Cakes by Leslie over on Bethesda Row recently opened up, so around noon I bundled up in my down coat and braced the cold winter wind as I made my way over to the shop. I chose from a wide variety of cupcakes, and ended up picking out four flavors: Carrot Cake, Pumpkin, Red Velvet, and Brownie.

The first thing I noticed when I bit into the Carrot Cake was that the Cream Cheese frosting had a gooey/stringy consistency...what in the world? And not only was the texture weird, the taste was off too. Cream cheese frosting is very easy to do, so I'm not sure how they got this wrong. The cake didn’t even taste like carrot cake, it had this weird blandness to it that I can’t even pinpoint. The lady at the counter suggested this one to me when I had her pick out her favorite, and she was raving how it was all full of great spices like nutmeg. I don’t even taste any spices. This is probably one of the worst carrot cakes I’ve had.

The Pumpkin was better than the carrot cake, but that’s not saying much. The only thing that made it better was that you could actually taste a flavor to it – the pumpkin. Georgetown Cupcake’s and Hello Cupcake’s Pumpkin are both worlds better than this. Really it tasted like something I’d expect from an amateur baker, and seeing as to how Leslie is a very seasoned baker, there’s no excuse.

A slight improvement, the Red Velvet cupcake was decent. The cake was incredibly sweet though, sweeter than any Red Velvet I’ve had before. Like the Red Velvet cupcake I had from Starbucks last week, I can compare this to a sugar cookie. However if I had a choice between Starbucks Red Velvet and Leslie’s Red Velvet, I would 100% of the time go for Starbucks. This just came up short, not to mention it unfortunately used the same weird cream cheese frosting as the pumpkin and carrot cake.

Lastly, the Brownie Cupcake. What a disappointment. I’ve had better brownies out of a box from the grocery store. The kind of rich, gooey chocolateness you expect from a brownie was completely lacking, and it even bordered on dry. The chocolate frosting was very cocoa-ish and thick, and I think it could have used a little more sweetness to balance out the heavy cocoa flavor.

In summary: Leslie is an amazing decorater, one of the most talented I’ve seen. But where were those skills in decorating these cupcakes?? Not only were they not pretty, but they were sloppily made as they clearly baked out over the edge of the liner, which in turn made the edges hard. And while we’re talking about actual baking, I'd like to go out on a limb here and say that she has a lot to learn. The cakes are all lacking in flavor and creativity. Considering the gourmet price ($3.25/cupcake, the brownie one is $4), there is nothing gourmet about them. When I first bought the cupcakes and saw the minimal dollop of frosting, I was a little dismayed, but considering the taste of the cream cheese frosting, that was probably best. I can't help but wonder, is this what her expensive designer wedding cakes taste like??? I sure hope not, because you'd have to pay me to serve this at an event. I won’t be wasting a dime on any cupcakes from Fancy Cakes by Leslie ever again.


Sorina said...

Hi I am new to your blog and I just wanted to say how much I’m loving it

Anonymous said...

I bought some of these over the weekend. What was frightening to me is that she had a stack, and I mean a tall stack, of day-two day old cupcakes she was selling for $10 (for 6). But the ones I had were so vile I threw them out. The red velvet was by far the worse one. It was a florescent orange and had fake creamcheese frosting one top. It tasted like Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting.
I was horrified whe the lade behind the counter grabbed the cupcakes with hotdog tongs. She completely tore the cupcakes and still charged me $16 for the 6 of them. It's devasting that the only cupcakery in Bethesda has such vile cupcakes.

Danielle said...

Hahaha, "vile" is definitely a good word to describe it! But yea, in summary, Fancy Cakes by Leslie is awful. I did not know however that she sold old cupcakes - that's foul. Just so you know, Just Cakes over off Rugby Ave has cupcakes, but they're a hit or miss (sometimes dry - a lot too sweet). However, I'd take my chances any day with them over Fancy Cakes.

pink23 said...

i was so excited when i saw they had finally opened and went in and bought just a plain yellow cupcake with pink buttercream frosting. it was so bad, i dont even know why i finished it. i was tempted to pitch it as i passed a garbage can, but it is hard to throw a cupcake out. i was sooo disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Do we live on the same planet? I came across your blog and saw your comments about the cupcakes for sale at Fancy Cakes by Leslie. My experience there has only been fabulous. I have watched the shop through the window and tasted the new flavors and admired the new designs that are not rivaled by any other cupcake shop. Every time I go into Fancy Cakes by Leslie the case looks completely different and is filled with unusual cupcake designs. The flavors and decorations are constantly changing. I agree that when she first opened the cupcakes were not extraordinary but it appears she caught on quickly. In fact, one day I asked her about the cupcake flavors changing and she said she's created separate new recipes for cupcakes while keeping her successful cake recipes for her cakes. I give Leslie a lot of credit for listening to her customers and making adjustments. Its too bad you wrote you would never return because you are really missing out!

Anonymous said...

The last post looks like it was written by the owner or else written for the owner.

I have noticed that there is a big difference between how things look and how they taste. I think it is really hard for someone to be an expert at both. And things looking pretty in many ways is incompatible with them tasting good because the things that taste good are often made from ingredients that are difficult to work with in terms of aesthetics. Have you noticed on the show Ace of Cakes, they never ever show anybody eating the cakes. They must taste TERRIBLE.

Anonymous said...

I appreciated reading the comments about Leslie's cupcakes because my daughter and I had a similar experience when we went for a wedding cake "tasting". Fancy Cakes was so highly rated that we assumed we'd be in for a real treat -- we were given three different cupcakes to taste and each was worse than the one before. That would have been tolerable but Leslie was SO rude and kept us waiting over 30 minutes to talk with her and when she finally came over, she said that we had to "narrow down" our choice of cake designs before she would help us. That was why we were there! When we narrowed it down to our top 3, she told us that they were clearly too labor intensive and that we wouldn't be able to afford them. Actually we can, but given her rudeness and dismissive attitude, there's no way that I would buy a cupcake from her, much less a $2,500 wedding cake. We left saying the same thing Julia Roberts said to the snotty shop girls in "Pretty Woman" -- "Big Mistake, Leslie, Big Mistake"!

Danielle said...

Anonymous - that sounds like an absolutely terrible experience. I haven't met Leslie before, but sounds like she needs to remember a thing or two about customer service. That is awfully rude of her to tell YOU that you couldn't afford something when based on what you wrote, she clearly didn't know a thing about your budget. Definitely take your business to a bakery that will appreciate it!