The Cupcake Caper created by Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Aldens are going to their favorite cupcake shop where they know the owner, Mama Tova. Her cupcakes are a secret. Other cupcake companies want to buy her out. She refuses, but then they challenge her to a cupcake making contest.
Someone gets into the cupcake shop though and the Aldens decide to leave a trap to figure out who is trying to steal Mama Tova’s cupcake recipe. They make a fake recipe, which is spicy. At the cupcake contest, Benny goes around tasting all of the cupcakes, secretly, in order to find out which person tried to steal the secret recipe. They find the spicy cupcakes alright, but it appears that someone unexpected took the recipe. Also, spicy cupcakes weren’t actually that bad.
What I liked
I used to bake a lot, so any time I read a story about baking, I do find it interesting. There’s a lot of science and chemistry that goes into creating new recipes. Baking can get technical. You have to make sure your ingredients don’t, or do, inhibit each other, whichever you desire. If you wanted your cupcake batter to rise, you wouldn’t put something in it that inhibited the rising process. That’s some of the science of baking.
What I didn’t like
Recipes aren’t really anything special. Sure, you can have a secret recipe, but what’s really so secret about it? It’s not like you invented a new ingredient? It’s true that in some cases, a special ingredient can change the way something tastes, or the texture of that item. For example, you can put baking powder on chicken wings and bake them in the over to get crispy chicken wings. It’s not exactly a common preparation technique, most people like to fry their wings, but it’s not like baking powder is a secret. It’s been around a long time. In many instances the reason one person’s food may taste good while another person’s food does not, is the preparation method.
I would find this story more plausible if Mama Tova baked her cupcakes a certain way that the competition did not. Like maybe she puts her cupcake tins in a water bath or something. I don’t know; it’s just a suggestion. If you have enough money and enough science, you can figure out a secret recipe.
Despite all of this, I do think that family recipes are a great thing. I think it’s a fun tradition and if that cake that tastes so good which Me-maw makes has 7-up in it, don’t let other people know who aren’t family. Why spoil the fun?
This week on Cupcake Wars…
What do you think about the idea of secret recipes?
Does your family have a family recipe? If so, what is it? I’m joking, you don’t have to tell me the recipe.