We finally made it to Gobble Cakes! That’s Blacksburg’s brand new cupcakery, and oh my god, y’all, it was all I could have hoped for. Cupcakes piled high with piped whipped frostings, elegant personal-sized confections on silver cake plates, ten flavors to choose from, and me standing there for fifteen minutes trying to decide between them.
The kids and I became huge fans of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars this summer. We watched bakers create and decorate cupcakes for Star Wars, Hotel Transylvania, Angry Birds, Tim Burton. We watched the show so often that the kids knew what the judges liked, which cake formulas would work, and when bakers were going down. Our eight year old son would say, “Oh, not an apple cake! Those never rise.” Or a novice who obviously hadn’t watched as many episodes as we have would feed the judges a traditional red velvet cake and our six year old daughter would say, “Uh oh. Florian’s not going to like that. He’s sick of red velvet.”
The show inspired us to make our own cupcakes, and we experimented with chocolate orange cakes and these peanut butter chocolate cupcakes (courtesy of The Nerd’s Wife) that make you groan when you eat them. They’re that good. But really, we’re amateurs, and we wanted more variety than we could make ourselves. I asked around on Twitter, and I kept hearing about this new place Gobble Cakes that was coming to town. I thought the name was adorable – Gobble Cakes! – it’s so fun to say and it just makes you want to gobble those cute little cakes up. It took me about six weeks to figure out the clever secondary (or maybe primary?) meaning of the name. Here in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech mascot is the Hokiebird. A turkey. Get it?! Gobble gobble?!! My son rolled his eyes when I made this discovery and then excitedly told them the genius second meaning of the name. He had figured it out weeks ago.
Anyway, the kids and I must have checked every week to try to figure out when Gobble Cakes was going to open, and we were finally rewarded this weekend when we made a family trek downtown for cupcakes. As we drove into town and saw the streets hopping, we wondered if we would ever find a parking spot at 7:30 pm on the Friday before Halloween. Luckily it wasn’t as hard as we anticipated, and we enjoyed the excited energy of college-town Halloween revelry on our walk to the bakery. We heard the deck party sounds of laughter and beer bottles clanking, and watched twenty-somethings in fairy costumes, and motorcycle chaps, and our kids’ favorite, Waldo (three young men together, all dressed in red and white striped shirts, all wearing Waldo’s signature hat with the red pom pom on top. I hope they were going to a big party with scads of people so that they’d get lost in the crowd for live games of Where’s Waldo?)
Gobble Cakes was hopping, too, and when we walked in I couldn’t wipe the stupid grin off my face. There was a steady stream of customers, for one thing, which always adds exciting vibrancy to an eatery. But I loved the boutique feel of it, too. The place is polished – not just the confectionery display of cakes on silver plates behind glass, but the simple color palette of fun, tastefully pink walls, white trim, elegant black and white photos of Blacksburg and the VT stadium – and my favorite details – awnings over the blackboard menu and the interior multi-paned window that looked in on the kitchen. The kids and I loved that window. We oohed and aahed over the baking racks, the industrial-sized floor mixers, the giant sacks of flour that were bigger than the kids. Our daughter particularly loved the googly eyes the pastry chef was wearing for Halloween.
When I finally decided on a cupcake, I chose their Breast Cancer Awareness special for October – a lemon cake with a lemon pastry cream filling and a honey frosting. And I tell you what, that was the best cupcake I’ve ever eaten. I usually go for the frosting – I’m a big frosting fan, especially if it’s cream cheese – but this lemon cake was so good I didn’t even need the frosting. The flavor was light and bright and subtly lemony, but what really blew me away was the texture. It was moist and spongy, with a tender crispness on the outside, not unlike the crisp texture of a perfectly cooked chocolate chip cookie, but way more delicate. And the quiet crust didn’t just contribute texture, it lent flavor, too, because it had that slightly toasted sweetness that you only want a little bit of, to contrast against the lightness of the cupcake’s interior. Wow. That was good stuff. I wish I could figure out how to bake cake like that.
The rest of the family loved their cupcakes, too, and when I asked if the cupcakes were good enough to go back to Gobble Cakes, the kids’ eyes got wide and they both nodded emphatically and shouted, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” Our daughter devoured an Apple Pie cake (it was light and moist – it had definitely risen) with cream cheese frosting, our son gobbled up a Drillfield Delight (chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting), and my husband savored his Hokie Love, red velvet with cream cheese frosting (sorry Florian – he said it was delicious). I agree that its worth a return visit. I can’t wait to go back and try the other cupcake I really wanted – the cinnamon cake with maple cream cheese frosting, topped with a crispy slice of candied bacon. My husband never jumped on the bacon and cake bandwagon, but I’m saving my pennies.