by Angela Dougherty
In the mood for a sweet treat? Who isn’t? As with any food, it is best to eat in moderation. We can all remember a Halloween night we ate too much candy as a child. However, swing by to 723 Washington Street, a short walk from campus, right next to the cinema, to try one of the best cupcakes you will ever have. A small, privately owned cake and candy company opened in 2012, Sweethearts Confectionery will leave your sweet tooth satisfied and wanting more.
Why are these cupcakes so good? Well for starters, they are made fresh daily and from scratch; no boxed cake ingredients here. The bonus of this is you will never return and have a cupcake that tastes quite the same. From ordinary to exotic flavors, everyone is sure to find a type they like, with or without icing. To complement your cupcake, why not grab a bag of candy? When I have gone, I have not tried the candy, but my cupcake was gone before I walked out the door. It was vanilla cake and icing with cherries inside and on top, a little bite of heaven.
I think the store could really benefit by incorporating some tables to the interior or exterior during warmer months. The presence of a bar with stools could be a chic and space-saving option for restaurant seating. While customers are waiting on a cake pickup, they might want to sit down. With the sugary theme the confectionery incorporates, colorful chairs scattered about might add to a fun, small social space feel. That is the only thing this space is lacking.
Sweethearts Confectionery is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except for on Sundays. Though there is no eat-in area, the workers, decoration and atmosphere are on point. They also incorporate a cake decorating aspect to their business, offering specialty made cakes for celebrations. If you or someone you know is having a birthday, why not swing by and order a personalized cake or batch of cupcakes? Cake is now extremely accessible, however in earlier times, this was not the case.
Cake originated in ancient Egypt as a form of leavened bread, round and flat, produced on a hot stone. They were the first peoples to master the art of using natural yeast. Moving some time forward into the Middle Ages, cake was a specialty afforded solely by the wealthy. Commoners did not have the heating technology of wood-stoves to bake with. They were stuck eating the dry, stale bread while the wealthy ate fine-floured melt-in-your-mouth bread. Give us this day our daily bread, huh!
Middle-Aged cakes were generally ten to twenty pounds in weight, a bit larger than what we are used to. I hope they shared with the poor, because that size of anything could feed an army. Cakes were not topped with icing or sprinkles back then. Only in Europe with the discovery of the new world were these fancy additions thought of. At this time during the Industrial Revolution, baking became more accessible to the average family.
During this time, recipes were also better recorded. At the end of the 17th century, pastries were made popular in the UK by a baking school in London. The eighteenth century was the height of cake baking. It was then that baking became a popular and necessary skill for professional cooks and housewives.
In 1769, Elizabeth Raffeld is credited with inventing the first icing recipe. However, many years passed until it finally hit the shelves in 1915. From 1899 to the early 1900s, cake recipes were documented consistently, leading to the first appearance of the brownie. Basically chocolate bread, it makes sense that the brownie was thought up between the invention of the regular cake and icing. From 1910 to 1920, packaged cookies were more popular in stores. Chocolate chip cookies were very popular in the ‘30s to ‘40s. If any students have not visited Hershey, Pa., I suggest you go. The best chocolate in the world, besides Swiss, is under a two-hour drive from Juniata or a short trip from the Harrisburg train stop.
As for contemporary cakes, we now have the cake pop. In 2008, Angie Dudley experimented with ingredients at her Bakerella store in Georgia. Southern, sweet and charming, the dessert even has its own bake pans. She originated as a baker with a blog who posted pictures of her cupcake pops. Four months after her initial post, she received a call from Martha Stewart asking her to be on her show.
Since appearing on the show, she has written a book that has been published internationally. She has also been on the covers of countless magazines, including Betty Crocker, People and Family Circle. In addition, she has baked cake pops for Disney’s website. Talk about popular! I wonder what the Egyptians would think of cake pops and sprinkles. Our society has certainly come a long way since leavened bread.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 5 A&E