Baking outside the box: Cupcake Anarchy
On Facebook, the description of Cupcake Anarchy reads: "The cupcake rebel. Making, from-scratch, unconventional cupcakes and breaking all the rules in the cookbook."
And breaking rules appears to be what this newly hatched business is all about. Former blogger turned food entrepreneur Karen Cinpinski, owner of Cupcake Anarchy, says she cut her teeth competing in local cupcake competitions, where she found that the Milwaukee palate was ripe for something new and different when it comes to cupcakes.
Inspired by the work of Kenneth Pogson and Tres Shannon of Portland's infamous Voodoo Doughnut, Cinpinski focused her work on creating a cupcake business that could not only serve the needs of the traditionalist but also individuals looking for something outside the box.
"Voodoo Doughnut is known for their unconventional doughnuts and drawings of voodoo priests," she says. "I said it was a place where anarchists would go for doughnuts."
Following that logic, Cinpinski says, Cupcake Anarchy is "the bakery that anarchists should patronize" for uncommon cupcakes.
In keeping with her revolutionary theme, Cinpinski has come up with over 90 different flavor combinations for her cupcakes, from traditional offerings like red velvet, chocolate and vanilla to cupcakes like sweet chili, hot wings, whiskey maple bacon, Limoncello rosemary ricotta and cupcakes topped with bacon jam.
"Anarchist flavors" include root beer float and mango coconut curry as well as bold alternatives like jalapeno popper and BBQ pulled pork. Booze-infused cupcakes include champagne custard, margarita, rum and coke and seasonal recipes like apple pie, spiked eggnog and pączki.
"Some of the flavors I create are probably more a novelty while others are more nostalgic," she says. "Many are unconventional, even a little extreme. I continuously try to push the envelope when it comes to flavors and I'm even starting to dabble in molecular gastronomy."
Cinpinski is also willing to think outside the box to create custom cupcakes that fit the needs of just about any palate.
"You tell me what flavors you want and I'll make it into a cupcake," she explains. "So if you really must have a peanut butter and pickle cupcake, I'll make it for you. No judgment. I wouldn't advise picking that combo, though."
A self-taught baker, Cinpinski worked at a local lunch shop while she was attending college, baking and crafting sandwiches in between classes, an experience she credits for giving her a wealth of baking techniques from which she draws for her new business.
"I have always had a passion for baking, which was fueled by my mom and her amazing pies and delicious cakes," Cinpinski explains. "I love cupcakes because they are just so darn cute, and I feel like you can do a lot with them – there's plenty of ways to be creative."
And creative might just be the tip of the iceberg. By day, she works in digital marketing at a local advertising agency. By night, Cinpinski spends her time writing and focusing on her passion for cupcakes.
"To say I'm a wearer of many hats would be like saying that cupcakes are tasty," Cinpinski says, "… a colossal understatement."
Cinpinski continues to wear numerous hats while running her new business. From baking and delivering to marketing and promoting, she handles every aspect of her business, including making cupcakes that not only taste delicious but are also visually appealing. She calls them her "edible masterpieces."
When asked what cupcakes are among her favorites, Cinpinski pauses.
"This is a tough question," she admits. "I think I have some really great vegan cupcakes. I might be a little biased, but my vegan red velvet cupcakes are outstanding – they almost turned me vegan! I also like the flavors that blend sweet and savory… and, believe it or not, my spiced apple cupcake that's sprinkled with candied SPAM is surprisingly addicting. Not fun working with SPAM, but good eating it on top of a cupcake. Trust me. "
Of course, the Milwaukee landscape is filled with businesses that claim to have "the best" cupcakes around. So I asked Cinpinski how she knew there was a market for yet another cupcake enterprise, different as it might be.
"There are also a lot of great burger places in Milwaukee," she responds. "Everyone has a favorite and they get to really stake a claim to that favorite. The same goes for cupcakes. I think that's why a metropolitan area can sustain several cupcakeries – some people like one kind of cupcake, some like another."
Cupcake Anarchy offers regular and mini cupcakes by the dozen, with vegan and gluten-free options available. Customers can place their orders through Facebook or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Delivery and catering is available to most in the Greater Milwaukee area.
As for the future, Cinpinski anticipates that the demand for her cupcakes will increase, and she's preparing for success.
"I'm constantly developing new flavors and writing new recipes," she says. "I'm also looking to scale up my production. I've even tossed around the idea of taking my business mobile, peddling my cakes."
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