The Cupcake Craze Comes Home

Knoxville home bakers would never let a nifty craze like boutique-style cupcakes pass them by—not with all the Mamaws, home schoolers, PTO bake salers and church pot-luckers in our midst who tend to lead a cooking trend, or at least improve on it.

This one's a go, says Larry Clark, 20-year owner of Sugarbakers cake, candy, and wedding supply store. "It began last year, and now all flavored cupcakes are the big thing. I'm selling lots of strong, flavored food product oils, in very small bottles. Five drops will flavor a pound of any food, like frosting or batter."

Popular flavors include cotton candy, cran-raspberry, and coffee hazelnut, he says. "They're all more adult flavors."

People are also getting into breakfast-style cupcakes. "They're making danish cupcakes, coffee cake cupcakes, honey bun style..." says Clark.

He has also seen cupcakes becoming the sweet of choice for showers and teas and lunches... and then weddings. "The trend has been in the west a long time, and now it's reached here. At first I thought it was a little tacky. But now there are people from all walks of life, from those who work a regular 40-hour week to Knoxville's top political families doing cupcakes at weddings.

"They really can look elegant, with gold and silver cupcake papers," Clark says. "And with a traditional wedding cake, you can only have as many flavors as you have layers. With cupcakes, you can offer 10 flavors, or more."

It's economical, too. "Hotels are ordinarily charging to serve wedding cake, sometimes as much as $1 per slice," he says. "A cupcake tree is self-service."

To move with the trend, Clark says he now has glass cases of pre-made cake décor flowers, double rings, tuxedos and such that are cupcake-size and is selling—and renting—cupcake towers for big events. "Some hold 100 cupcakes and are six levels tall," he says.