The Wife surprised me with a box of cupcakes from Flaircakes on her way home from badminton the other day. Given how sweet cupcakes tend to be, they’re an occasional indulgence, similar to original glazed Krispy Kremes (mmm… donuts…).
We usually get our cupcakes from Plain Vanilla, but she noticed a new shop in Upper Thomson offering six frosted cupcakes for only $9.90 on Shopback. Which is frankly a ridiculously low price, but these are really difficult times for F&B outlets and they need all the customers they can get.
It’s not easy to make good cupcakes. We like ours with a moist cake base and a flavourful, but not overly sweet, frosting. Bonus points if it’s filled with some sort of matching jam or chocolate, like raspberry-filled Krispy Kremes (mmm… filled donuts…). Ok, that’s my last donut comparison.
The first cupcake we tried was their signature Strawberry Champagne, followed by the equally pretty Lychee Rose.
Here’s how they’re described on their website:
Strawberry Champagne – Soft sponge brushed with champagne syrup filled with home made strawberry champagne jam, and finished off with a champagne cream cheese frosting. Contains alcohol.
Lychee Rose – Buttercake base lightly scented with rose water and filled with lychee puree, finished off with our rosewater infused buttercream rose.
After taking a bite, I understood why the Strawberry Champagne is their signature flavour. The description was spot on, from the moist cake to the fruity filling to the yummy frosting. For something so decadent, it tasted deceptively light. The only thing that could have made it better was if they used strawberry champagne from Japan, but that would probably be overkill.
The Lychee Rose looked similar but tasted totally different. The rose frosting didn’t have the overpowering sweetness of generic rose syrup, but it was unmistakably rose-scented in a dreamy and delicate way. The lychee filling was chunky and paired well with the rest of the ingredients. Of all the cupcakes we had that day, this was easily my favourite.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Chocolate Ganache and Chocolate Salted Caramel were rich and robust.
Chocolate Ganache – Chocolate cupcake filled with chocolate cremeux and frosted with chocolate ganache.
Chocolate Salted Caramel – The classic combination of chocolate and caramel. Deep dark chocolate cake, filled with layers of sticky chewy salted caramel, encased in a layer of fudgy chocolate caramel ganache.
Both were good, but between the two, I preferred the Chocolate Ganache, just because it had a pleasant bitterness that cut through the three layers of chocolate-ception.
Rounding out our first half-dozen were the Coffee Caramel and Chocolate Strawberry.
Coffee Caramel – Fluffy cake base with an intense coffee flavour, paired with a gooey caramel centre and topped off with coffee buttercream.
Chocolate Strawberry – Strawberry chocolate decorated with a buttercream daisy.
These final two cupcakes were also very good, and of consistently high quality as the others. The thought that came to mind as I took my last bite was how time-consuming it must have been to pipe all those buttercream daisies.
We had dinner with The Old Folks the following week and decided to pick up another box along the way. While the store is technically in the famous Upper Thomson area, home to many good restaurants and cafes, its physical location is relatively remote.
It’s on Soo Chow Walk, facing the residential area behind the stretch where UOB Bank, Chicken House (famous for their kampong chicken) and Dino’s Cake House & Cafe are located.
It’s a small little shop manned by Rachel, the owner/baker, and sometimes an additional part-time staff . We had a nice chat with her as we were picking up our box and heard first-hand how challenging business was, especially since she hardly gets any foot traffic during the weekdays.
The nearby Upper Thomson MRT station on the new Thomson-East Coast Line was anticipated to bring more business, but the scheduled opening last year was delayed because of you-know-what. Marketing on platforms like Shopback helped to draw in people, but at the expense of margins.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, as it seems she’s been able to get the word out, including a customer who drove all the way from the Far East (i.e. Bedok) just to buy her cupcakes.
Even in these challenging times, Rachel is still coming up with new flavours and despite the higher cost, she’s still sticking with using premium ingredients.
Case-in-point: the rose flavouring uses rose-infused milk and not diluted rose syrup that you’d use for bandung. I have nothing against bandung, and it’s actually one of my favourite drinks, but rose syrup would have overwhelmed the delicate balance of her cupcakes.
We chose two Lychee Roses, one Chocolate Strawberry and three other flavours we hadn’t tried yet — Red Velvet, Earl Grey Lavender and Vanilla. We really wanted to try her Lemon Meringue and Yam cupcakes, but those two weren’t available that day. So, before you head down to Flaircakes (and you really should), call ahead to see what’s available that day to avoid disappointment.
To help brighten her day just a little bit, we shared that her cupcakes are now our favourites and that we prefer them over those at Twelve Cupcakes and Plain Vanilla. In case you’re wondering, this is not a sponsored post. We just really like her cupcakes, and hope that she stays in business for a long time.
We fed The Old Folks cupcakes for dessert that night, and they really enjoyed them too, especially the Lychee Rose and Chocolate Strawberry. They kept mentioning how good they tasted and how interesting the flavours were.
Which, as you know, is basically old people code for: “Please bring us more next time.”