I recently brought some cupcakes to a staff meeting. The cupcakes came from a sweet little bakery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side called Babycakes.
The cupcakes were devoured quickly, and with such enthusiasm, I started to get a mental image of cats rolling around in catnip. But when a couple of people asked me what was in the cupcakes, I responded with “Finish them first and then I’ll tell you.”
It wasn’t what was in cupcakes but, rather, what wasn’t in them. They weren’t loaded with sugar, butter and other goo. They were just great-tasting little cakes made with healthy, natural ingredients and topped with frosting sweetened with agave nectar.
“White sugar will never be found in our bakery,” writes founder Erin McKenna on her website, “nor will we ever use toxic chemical sweeteners.”
The Babycakes product offering includes all-natural, organic and delicious alternatives free from the common allergens: wheat, gluten, dairy, casein and eggs. Sometimes spelt, a distant relative of wheat, is used. Spelt has kind of a nutty taste, and it’s often preferred by health enthusiasts, because it has 15-20% more proteins, is higher in complex carbohydrates, is rich in magnesium, is lower in overall carbohydrates, has not been genetically altered, and contains enzymes that assist in glucose and insulin secretion.
Babycakes often uses Agave Nectar to sweeten; it is a natural, low-glycemic sweetener made from the cactus; sometimes unrefined evaporated cane juice is used. Other ingredients might include cold-pressed virgin coconut oil (which has been shown to have many health benefits), rice flour, a garbanzo/fava bean mix, potato starch, arrow root, etc. McKenna boasts that items are baked, never fried. That includes the donuts!
And did I mention how delicious the items are? So yummy, in fact, that the Babycakes donut won the coveted “Best of New York” in New York Magazine in 2010. Inc. Magazine also ran a feature a couple of years ago with a photo of Erin McKenna and Celebrity Chef and co-founder of the Gramercy Tavern Tom Colicchio.
It all started in 2005 when McKenna discovered she had food allergies. She couldn’t find a vegan bakery to satisfy her sweet tooth—so she decided to start her own bakery. Today, Babycakes is a thriving enterprise, with additional locations in Los Angeles and Downtown Disney. There’s also a Babycakes cookbook and, this summer, Babycakes had its own concession stand at Rockaway Beach.