- a blog about food and value

Men and Cupcakes

avoca_smallI thought long and hard before writing about cupcakes. They’re just so dainty and feminine, eaten mostly by little girls and old ladies. It’s not that I’m particularly macho – or even slightly – but surely no self-respecting man should let one pass his lips, let alone ponder it, and then write about it.

But the other day, someone arrived at my house with a box of cupcakes from Avoca in Kilmacanogue. They cost €7.95 for 6, which is a reasonable enough price. When I ate them, I decided I wanted to write about them, ideally under Jean’s name. But she didn’t much care for my masculinity or reputation and wouldn’t let me. Boo!

The cupcakes weren’t very nice, like the first bun made by a small smiling child with no baking skills. They were quite floury, dry, and bland. The icing on all six seemed quite artificial and had a peculiar and not-so-enjoyable sweetness. Apart from the chocolate cupcake, it was hard to identify any particular flavours. Now, Miss Katy who runs the Tea Rooms in Blarney, Co. Cork: she knows how to make a cupcake.

Avoca’s cakes and breads are generally lovely, so this was a bit of a surprise. I recommend giving Avoca’s cupcakes a miss, and choosing another of their delicious sweet treats. Ok, I’m off to nurse my wounded pride and do some manly things, like climbing mountains, breaking things, and being drunk. Grrr!


  1. The cupcakes in the Powerscourt centre are fabulous, they’re just up the steps beside FCUK and to the right. Also there’s a stand selling them just inside the Georges St arcade, can’t remember what it’s called but the gingerbread one with the lime icing is PHENOMENAL!!!

  2. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that cupcakes are a bit overrated. I’m not surprised that they’re popular – they look so pretty, and as any girl who ever owned a doll’s house will know, small things are so much more entrancing than large things. However, when it’s just sponge and icing, both need to be really good, and very often you get dry sponge and oversweet icing.

    Don’t they look gorgeous though?

  3. Peyton & Byrne in London have the best cupcakes every – they are just amazing. I bring them home every time I go there – highly recommended! I’ve tasted nothing else that even came close to these or even anything else worth tasting for that matter.

  4. The thing about cupcakes is that no matter what they taste like, their appearance evokes afternoon teas, tiered cake-stands, and a world without work. Your best bet is to don a manly chef’s hat and make your own.

  5. I don’t think 7.95 for 6 cupcakes is reasonable. My very masculine husband makes delicious ones for about a euro a dozen. When did we stop calling them iced queen cakes?

  6. I think I might have to disagree with your perception of the Cupcake target audience… I’ve found that far more men have been buying my cupcakes at the market! Maybe it’s the run-up to Bikini Season or something, but the girls are definitely not as keen on the butter & sugar laden delights as the boys are!! 🙂

    There’s definitely something very disappointing about most bakeries’ cupcakes though. I may be biased but my favourites are still Laura’s (of fame!) 🙂

  7. …or just plain old buns?

  8. Does anybody know where can I buy gluten free cupcakes?

  9. The Hummingbird Bakery in London make such amazing cupcakes in a range of flavours! So Yummy!

  10. Very much agreed with Jill, cupcakes are an annoying Americanism that’s crept in, they’re iced queen cakes & have been so for years! 🙂

  11. I agree Peter. I took a lactase table to eat one of those little pretties and it was such a disappointment. I think I only ate half in the end because it tasted so weirdly sweet and that’s an unheard of show of restraint by me. Stick with the Avoca banana bread – no dairy for those with that particular intolerance and just plain lovely.

  12. @Babs Lolly & Cooks in George’s St Arcade does at least one gluten-free variety and will probably do more to order if you so wish….

  13. We always called them Fairy cakes. Regardless of the name you can’t beat home made.

  14. Buns, fairy cakes and queen cakes are tiny – cupcakes are BIG!

  15. The stall in George’s Street arcade sells gluten-free cupcakes and they are delicious.

  16. Cupcakes are American in origin – like muffins. Although I do think that it’s time for a fairy/queen cake revival with strawberry jam and cream fillings.

  17. Are cupcakes not totally different to fairy cakes in that there is more butter and vanilla in them? Of has my mother been a rubbish baker all these years!

  18. I have to say that cupcakes are totally different from fairy cakes and queen cakes… There is far more sugar & vanilla in the American Cupcakes, and there is a bit of skill in putting them together to avoid producing a dry, tough cake. Then of course there is the swirl of “frosting” buttercream icing on top that works so well with the light & fluffy cake.. Now of course I am already a fan of them, seeing as I bake them for a Farmer’s Market, but my customer’s keep coming back for more so I think they’d agree! 🙂

  19. I think avoca is overrated. The prices are high but i believe the qulaity is just ok, it seem to have a good reputation with the yummy mummies that is in my viewa result mainly of a herd instinct.

  20. I had one of their sausage rolls on Monday. It has reduced in size by at least a quarter for the same price.

  21. All Fairy cakes are totally lame and should go out of fashion the same way prawn cocktail, blue nun and black forest gateaux all did. And don’t even get me started on buttercream.

  22. Has anyone tried the new M&S cupcakes?

  23. Fallon & Byrnes do a fairly outstanding cup-cake-made-of -carrot-cake hybrid. Not that I’d be interested in such things, what with being a man and all.

  24. Yes, when I’m not busy being a man, I also like carrot cupcakes.

  25. after readin all the comments durin the week i was obliged to try lolly and cooks cup cakes today…..words cannot describe how delicious the gingerbread and lime one was!!!! totally sublime….they also had at least 2 gluten free varieties….i almost bought a box of 6 but reckoned if i had i would have scoffed them in the car on the long journey home!!!! have to agree with the avoca comments too….they are totally over rated and far too expensive! 🙂 great website by the way its now top of my favourites list!

  26. In case anyone is interested in actually baking their own (thus avoiding the hideously overpriced varieties out there), I’ve posted the recipe on my blog:
    I would apologise for the shameless self promotion but I’ve fully credited my baking mentor in this! 🙂

  27. I can make my own cupcakes, and they are good. But if you really want to treat yourself to something special, then go to Lolly and Cooks in George’s St Arcade, as they are something really different, and way beyond my own abilities as a baker. Also, you can get at least 12 different flavours a the one time, instead of a bun tin of a dozen all the same, straight from the oven. I wish I had the recipes for the icings, as they are unrepeatable!

  28. Thanks for all your recmondations on cupcakes. have literally tried tha lot now. did’nt think much of the ones from powerscort, very dry and synthetic, not mad about fallon and byrne either, but low and behold the LOLLY AND COOKS cupcakes are in a league of their own! my god they are good, far better than any i had in NY and that is where my cupcake fascination started.

  29. Hey Catherine. There must be telepathy between us! Both thinking of cupcakes at the same time!! I had breakfast in the Arcade, which prompted my message. How about you? Were you buying at the same time?

  30. Daisy Chain Cupcakes have without a doubt the best cupcakes in Ireland let alone Dublin! They have a huge selection of delicious hand made cupcakes,they use only the best ingrediants and you can taste it.I have tried all the other cupcakes around Dublin and nobody comes close to these guys!!! Watch out for them they are going to be very big! check out there website