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Cake Love: Opinions?

About 3 weeks ago, I tried my first cupcake from Cake Love (in Silver Spring). I had heard and read about the owner and the cupcakes for years. I was expecting something really earthshaking. I must admit that I was very disappointed. A second trip to the place last week didn't change my mind.

The cupcakes that I had (one vanilla with chocolate buttercream frosting and a chocolate with a cream cheese frosting) were terrible. The cakes were dense, glutinous, and bland. My second cupcake was extremely dry. (So much so that I needed some water to swallow it.) I could tell that they were made from scratch, but this isn't a plus if the ingredients aren't prepared properly. These cupcakes had such a course, non-delicate crumb.

Both frostings were awful. They seemed watery and whipped up with air. It was also a bit sad to see the thin layer of frosting just slopped onto the cupcake with a spatula. (No attempt at piping.) This is the type of thing that I'm used to seeing at a community bake sale.

I can't understand how people would rave on about these cupcakes, especially when they cost $3.50 a pop.

Did I just catch these guys on a bad day (or two)?

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  1. Do a search. You will see it was not a bad day. Actually, I'm surprised that, as a user of this site, you would be expecting something earth shattering. Most reviews echo yours: dense, dry, etc. Sorry you were disappointed. :-( Always a bummer when something you were looking forward to doesn't pan out.

    2 Replies
    1. re: charmedgirl

      Thanks charmedgirl. You make a good point. I just joined this site yesterday. lol :)

      1. re: Sean D

        That would explain it then! Ha ha! Next time maybe consult the hounds first, at least to see what they have to say. No need to take it as gospel (I sure don't!) and you can always do your own thing, but that way you'll be going in more informed. And you know what GI Joe says .....

    2. No, that's pretty much standard at Cake Love. I prefer Red Velvet for cupcakes, though I usually just make 'em myself and get a couple dozen for the price of two or three retail.

      1. It's hard to find better than Georgetown Cupcake. My favorite is the choc cake with vanilla frosting.

        Avoid the peanut butter if you have arachibutyrophobia.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          Appalingly poor value. Cake love that is. I clicked the worng link. I'm not hating on gtown cupcake.

          1. re: Steve

            Georgetown Cupcake is an adorable experiece, and I've seen everyone from tweens to businessmen! I love their vanilla w/choc frosting, but their caramel sea salt seems a bit sweet but with no discernable flavor.

            Georgetown Cupcake
            1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

          2. I've experienced their cupcakes several times and they have uniformly been mediocre. Once the interior of the cupcake was still batter and undercooked. Not so nice for $3.50 a pop.

            I think the reason Cake Love received so much attention was not for the quality and uniformity of the cakes but rather because of the love story the media weaved about the owner forging a new business in the renaissance of U Street.

            1 Reply
            1. re: onocoffee

              Not only that, but the much ballyhooed detail that he gave up his law career for his dream to be a baker.

              There's a Cake Love located in Tysons Corner and I'm glad I've never bought anything from there. They don't even post prices for their stuff.

            2. Agree with everyone that CakeLove is terrible -- and also wanted to add that Georgetown Cupcakes is excellent!

              When I've gone to the CakeLove in Silver Spring, they gave me a refrigerated cupcake out of the display case and told me it wasn't meant to be eaten until it had come up to room temperature. Is this standard? Isn't that ridiculous?

              3 Replies
              1. re: slyc

                Thanks for writing about the refrigerated cupcake, Slyc. When I had my first CakeLove cupcake, it seemed cold in the middle. It also had a wetness that seemed a bit like built-up condensation. I had a hunch, but I wasn't sure.

                Also, on a surprising, pleasant note...I had a really nice cupcake at Starbucks! It was red velvet with cream cheese icing. I must say that for a mass-produced cupcake (which arrives refrigerated), it was really nice. The price was also remarkable - $1.85 - which is incredible for a place like Starbucks.

                1. re: slyc

                  Actually, it is not ridiculous. Buttercream is best when served at room temperature. Worked in a bakery for six months and always instructed customers to take the kid out of the frig for at least fifteen minutes before serving.

                  1. re: BEmama

                    From practical experience though, I've found that buttercream lasts perfectly well at a stable room temperature and that there is no real need for refrigerating the cupcake - unless you're planning on holding the cupcake for up to ten days.

                    But for $3.50 a cupcake, I would expect that they would bake them fresh everyday... wouldn't you?

                2. Cake love is one of those places you really want to love and support but the product makes that impossible.

                  2 Replies
                    1. The Baltimore Cake Love is equally awful, if not more so. Baltimore has plenty of chowish places for good cheap eats. I have to wonder how long they'll tolerate lousy $3.50 cupcakes.


                      1. I need a HUGE glass of milk. What a complete disappointment. These cupcakes are very expensive $19.99 for six small cupcakes....they are dry , bland and taste blah....the frosting is horrible and unattractive., runny and tasteless. I make an extremely good cupcake and expected these to top mine since I heard the raves about CakeLove. I will stick with making my own yummy, moist cupcakes with thick buttercreme frosting and at a value not to exceed 50 cents each - :-) Sorry CakeLove....don't open up any more retail locations....would be a waste of money if this is the quality people can expect.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: lmsarbach

                          A quick search could have saved you time and money:

                          I will say last month, I attended a wedding where the cake was from Cake Love and it was the first time I've ever had something mediocre from them -- before it was ranging from inedible to bad. Not sure if it was a fluke, but I can't be bothered to investigate considering mow much money and time I've spent on their various offerings, meticulously bringing the internal core temperature of their cupcakes down to 70 degrees or whatever.

                          I've notice friends and aquaintances from certain cultural backgrounds (e.g., Korean) prefer Cake Love because it's not as sweet. However, my sample size is relatively small. But that hasn't stopped me from extrapolating that this must be how Cake Love stays in business. ;)

                          1. re: bmorecupcake

                            In July I traveled from the west coast to visit my parents in Virginia and happened upon the CakeLove at National Harbor, MD. Looking for something to treat my three-year-old son while on vacation, I bought two vanilla cupcakes with strawberry icing and small plastic jug of milk from their refrigerated case. The milk turned out to be necessary because the exorbitantly priced cupcakes were hard to get down. The strawberry icing was very nice, actually, with a intense buttery strawberry flavor, but the vanilla cupcakes didn't come close to the ones I can whip up at home. I wish I had read these posts before I impulsively walked in there. I would have taken my son to Ben and Jerry's down the block instead.

                            1. re: mecr

                              CakeLove gets no love from me either. Really subpar cupcakes. More hype than anything else. Georgetown Cupcake is good, but most of the time I go to either Baked and Wired or Furin's for cupcakes. Furin's has even made cupcakes to order for me on the spot (icing and jimmies, etc.). I should mention that I like more classic flavors--vanilla or chocolate cake with milk chocolate or coconut icing.

                              1. re: Gigi007

                                A friend was recently (yesterday) telling me that Cakelove's own staff was telling them that they hold their cakes refrigerated for up to ten days.

                                I haven't had a Cakelove cupcake since they opened the Baltimore location nearly two years ago - and there's a reason for that. $3.50 for something that wasn't fully cooked. And I thought Magnolia was overrated.

                              2. re: mecr

                                Still annoyed at how overrated and overpriced they were. Does anyone know if they've improved?

                          2. I JUST went to CakeLove at Tysons Corner also after hearing about them
                            for years. I too was VERY disappointed. I couldn't believe the chocolate cake
                            in the cupcake was soooo dense and didn't even taste like chocolate.
                            I've been baking for 44 years and still believe mine are the best. I don't understand
                            all these new places opening up and sounding like they are the best around until
                            you try them. They had placed a HELP WANTED ad because they were opening a
                            new store in Fair Oaks mall. I got excited and sent in a resume just knowing I
                            would get a job with them. They called me back the next day but I missed the call.
                            So decided to go there today to see what they were about. I think I'll try opening my
                            own cucake shop WITH piped icing, at least. Everyone I know has been telling
                            me for the past 40 years that I should open one.

                            1. I just don't get how these guys and Ace of Cakes both don't taste good and build empires.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: chowsearch

                                Don't get me started with Ace of Cakes... I went to some sort of Seminar and they mentioned refreshments after it... (Corcoran) there was a line I went liend up and realized it was to ask for autographs or take pics with Duff, I was still in the Train back home wondering... "why didn't he bring cake..."

                                CakeLove... pretty name, bad cakes sorry =(

                                Georgetown Cupcakes depending on the day I can say their mint-choco and the White Choco-Peppermint are the only ones I care for... the Eggnog was pretty much nutmeg flavour on the frosting and still the combination with Choco Cake didn't work for me. The Gingerbread was ok, I would rather spend the same amount for a good piece of Whole Food's Gingerbread.

                                The Red Velvet I tried long time ago, for me the better I've tried from all these cupcake places (Red Velvet, Cake Love, Baked & Wired) But I haven;t try the Cupcake Curbside Truck yet.

                                Baked & Wired I just ask for Beestings, cupcakes are too heavy for me and frosting too oily without having too much flavour... (personal of course =)

                                1. re: helenahimm

                                  I haven't been to GTown cupcake since they expanded, but the cake was too dry for me when I last hand it. I love hello, cupcake...but maybe cuz I can walk there?

                                  But - you've never tried anything from Charm City Cakes? People here who have said their cake was very good. If it's the fame of Duff you don't like, that's one thing...but how does the cake taste if you've had it?

                                  (I don't begrudge people for making money or becoming famous - usually for food stuffs other than Sandra Lee, it's deserved)

                                  1. re: Jeserf

                                    The next time I go to Baltimore I will try the cake for sure, the day I visited they were closed. The thing is that I thought I was going to try his cake when he came to Corcoran sicne everyone was talking about it.. instead they gave us some type of Betty Crocker made Brownies and Veggie Platters.. (People don't know that Veggie Platters are dead, jeez, ha =) Forget about fame, that doesn't bother me... (though I did get nervous the day I met Eric Ripert, but that's another story lol).

                                    I left Baltimore sad the last time I went that's why I haven't tried that city again.. I always remember leaving Philadelphia happy so I just drive there....

                                    1. re: Jeserf

                                      Actually, a large number of people (myself included) who have tried Charm City Cakes have come away very disappointed. I think I've seen far more negative reviews than positive, when it comes to taste at least. (Most people do not dispute they are skilled artists/sculptors.) Can you point to some of the reviews where people said their cakes were good?

                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                        there was a thread here dedicated to whether they're good, but I get the feeling that those who ordered cakes from there a while back have a better opinion that recent orders. There were a couple of people, if I remember correctly, that had ordered.

                                        Veggie platters aren't dead - I love 'em. As a vegetarian, people often forget about us and a platter of veggies and dip will always please me in that category!

                                        1. re: Jeserf

                                          Let me correct myself lol, I mean from the 100% dinner parties I went in 2009 at least 90% would have a veggie platter, but I always found it boring, it's like people is not creative they would order it from the grocery store, etc so it is always the same, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, carrot sticks, ranch sauce or blue cheese dressing, hummus now, everyone loves hummus now, or raw broccoli.... and that's the type of platter I meant dear, sorry if i sounded anti-vegetarian =)

                                          I wished people would do cucumber sandwiches, or grilled tofu sticks with curry-coconut dips, I don't know new things... I guess I complain too much sorry lol

                                          1. re: helenahimm

                                            A valid complaint, Helen, we need more inventive vegomatic platter ideas, cucumber sandwiches sound fairly easy to put together quickly and healthily, what else would be good to make for a party?

                                            1. re: chowsearch

                                              it all depends on the crowd =)

                                              I think we should have a DC Chowhound Potluck Finger Food Creative activity... I am fairly new to this board, do people even actually do that? I know many don't cook, but love eating, but they could always contribute by bringing something that it is not a Harris Teeter Veggie Platter LOL ok ok you can bring it and i promise i won't make any comments haha. but don't expect me to dig in ranch dressing with baby carrot =P

                                              1. re: helenahimm

                                                I'll jump on the pile as well, and state that Cakelove is just not good. I've had their cupcakes, a slice of cake, and something they used to have called "crunchy feet," which arguably were the best out of the three. But out of 4 stars, cakelove gets 1 for product and price. Higher marks go to atmosphere and hype. Cakelove is overrated, overpriced, and just doesn't live up to the hype. But someone seems to like it because they're opening up all over the place. Where will cakelove be after the hype dies down in a few years?

                                                1. re: tbantug

                                                  They got rid of the crunchy feet? That was the only edible thing in there.

                                2. My husband and I were given a whole cake from Cakelove for our anniversary from one of his co-workers. It was a German Chocolate cake from the Shirlington location. I actually thought it was very good. Especially after so many other not good things I have had there in the past. The cake wasn't super spongy moist, but it wasn't dry and the German Chocolate filling, while not traditional was very good. Was it my Mom's homemade version, no, but was surprisingly good. I even kind of liked it straight out of the fridge the next day.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ktmoomau

                                    That's quite interesting. As I posted above, we went to a wedding last year where the Cakelove-delivered wedding cake wasn't bad. Since then, we have stopped by Cakelove again. Unfortunately, what we purchased from the store was the same old below average fare. I wonder if the cake orders are done by more experienced bakers...

                                  2. I was very turned off on my one visit to the Love Cafe a couple of years ago, when the cupcake I ordered was served to me refrigerator-cold. I hate that. I read that you are supposed to let them come to room temperature -- so why would they serve them ice cold in their own cafe? Setting that aside, I'm not a big fan of buttercream frosting -- especially when it's cold. On the plus side, the owner is totally hot.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                      Worked a catering event about 4 years they had ordered a cake from Cake Love and it was awesome. Cakes made to order was their core business model. I can't really comment on the cupcake thing I think people are crazy to wait in line to spend $4 on a little cake with frosting. My manager at the time did mention that the staff was a pain to work with