Big Cakes, Easy Frosting

Photo from Frontiers LA - Big Man Bakes - Choc Banana WalnutHow much frosting do you like on your cupcakes?

I have no precise formula for my frosting to cake ratio. Rather it’s an acceptable range. However, I do prefer more to less.

So what happens when a cupcake recon brings a professed Frosting Fanatic to a top baker who believes that less frosting is more?

Well, I purchased the cupcakes. Then, I proceed to tell the following story…

I went to Big Man Bakes in Downtown Los Angeles, California. The Big Man behind the shop is William “Chip” Brown. With a 6-foot 5-inch physique, he would be pretty hard to miss in the streets of LA, let alone a bakery.

When I entered the shop, at first I didn’t see the Big Man. I saw a female associate and dozens of cupcakes, XL and minis.

Then, a towering figure emerged from a curtain dividing the storefront and the back. It was Chip.

He greeted me with a hello, put on gloves and walked me through the day’s flavors. As my focus was on the XL size, we didn’t even discuss the minis. He explained that the frosting was meant to complement the cake.

Photo from Yelp - Big Man Bakes - StrawberryI didn’t pay much attention to the frosting statement at the moment. However, it would become relevant later.

I started my review with Big Man Bakes Strawberry Cupcake. It’s a strawberry cake made with pureed strawberries, topped with buttercream frosting and a slice of fresh strawberry.

This Strawberry Cupcake did something none has ever done before. It reminded me of my mom’s Strawberry Jell-O Cake recipe. I smiled after the first bite and with each bite thereafter.

It was moist, flavorful and delicious. It didn’t have as much frosting as I usually prefer and with the cake’s generous size, I found myself rationing to make it last. However, the cake could stand alone, so I accepted the frosting’s role. It was there to enhance, not overwhelm.

Next, I tried their Chocolate Banana Walnut. It’s a banana cake topped with Ghirardelli chocolate frosting and chopped walnuts.

Like the strawberry, the Big Man Bakes banana walnut cake had a homemade quality. It was reminiscent of banana bread, moist and with a similar density. The Ghirardelli frosting was smooth and satisfying, the perfect complement.

Photo from - Big Man Bakes - Carrot CakeI continued sampling with a slight twist on my classic combination, Old School. It’s a white cake infused with almond extract and topped with Ghirardelli chocolate frosting.

The almond essence was prevalent from the first bite. I enjoyed its flavor. The cake itself wasn’t as moist as the others. Thus, I would’ve appreciated more of the indulgent chocolate buttercream.

Nevertheless, according to LA Weekly, Chip doesn’t believe in top-heavy cupcakes, so I rationed the frosting once more with the XL cake.

Normally, I would give my rating after two or three cupcakes. However, in speaking with Chip at his shop, I mentioned that I was vetting LA Weekly’s list. He insisted I try Big Man Bakes Carrot Cake. He makes it with organic carrots and tops it with their signature cream cheese frosting.

This was one of the best Carrot Cakes I’ve had outside of a family gathering. It was nothing fancy, just the carrots and appropriate spices – not even any nuts. But it was so moist and exquisite. The cream cheese frosting was the perfect finish. My only comment? You got it; I wanted more frosting.

I give Big Man Bakes 4 out of 5 stars. For once, I’m finally on par with LA Weekly! I believe they deserve a spot on the 10 Best Cupcake Shops in Los Angeles list and I will return.

Still, as a Frosting Fanatic, I cannot give a higher rating. Just as Chip bakes according to his standards, I rate according to mine.


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