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Cupcake Face-Off Semifinals: Tiffane’s vs. Walnut Creek Baking Company

Who will face off against Kara's in the finals?


Photos by LeeAnne Jones

The past few weeks have been excruciating for the editors at Diablo, as we’ve stepped through the breech, taking up the task of tasting some of the East Bay’s best cupcakes. This week, we pitted two indie powerhouse bakeshops against one another in the last semifinal round before the championship. There was no time to hit up the gym or worry about healthy eating: We had to decide Kara’s Cupcakes' challenger for the final round.

As we did in the previous semi, we wanted to get each cupcakery to give us their best shot, asking them to recommend their most popular style. You couldn't ask for more different results: while Tiffane's of Livermore (winner of round three) gave us one of their patented massive cupcakes with lemon cake filled with meyer lemon curd and topped with a lemon buttercream frosting, Walnut Creek Baking Company (winner of round four) suggested their petite chocolate cupcake with a chocolate ganache topping.

Would it be the lemon cupcake from Tiffane’s or the Hostess doppleganger (filled with even more chocolate) from Walnut Creek Baking Company? We're not gonna lie: This was the toughest contest yet. Read on to see who came out on top...

Ethan Fletcher, Associate Editor

Notes: Ethan started off the competition by noting the overall look of the lemon cupcake: “It looks like something the Care Bears would eat.” So if you ever wondered what a Care Bear ate, you finally have your answer: a lemon cupcake "bomb" from Tiffane’s. The tart and oozing lemon center had Ethan hooked, as well as the frosting and cake. The Hostess twin had a compact taste that wasn’t full of flavor, but it still had a delicious and dark chocolate jolt to it. A California Cuisine approach to Hostess, perhaps? In the end, however, he had to go with the lemon.

Winner: Tiffane’s.

Roger Gurbani, Art Director

Notes: Our harshest critic immediately gave his opinion on the lemon treat: “I didn’t like it. That’s all I’m going to say.” Roger was kinder to the tiny chocolate cupcake, citing its frosting and cake as above average. This decision wasn't close... and that's all we're going to say.

Winner: Walnut Creek Baking Company.

LeeAnne Jones, Managing Editor

Notes: A self-proclaimed chocolate lover, LeeAnne was shocked to find herself giving the lemon an early edge. Despite the oozing center that she was not a fan of, the frosting was a huge hit, and dreamed longingly of that same frosting on a vanilla cupcake. She appreciated the ganache topping on the chocolate competitor, but in the end it wasn’t enough, giving the win to the lemon. “It was a shock,” she admitted.

Winner: Tiffane’s.

Serena Renner, Associate Editor

Notes: Serena stumbled upon a common theme with the lemon filling: very intense. Maybe too intense? She said the frosting worked well, but the filling was just a bit overpowering, spilling out of the cupcake and making it hard to eat. “It’s weird to scoop out the cupcake.” Serena had some quibbles with Walnut Creek Baking Company’s offering, noting that it had a grocery store look. Despite that, she enjoyed the overall texture and flavor enough to give the nod to the chocolate.

Winner: Walnut Creek Baking Company.

Susan Dowdney Safipour, Editor in Chief

Notes: We’re pretty sure Susan was in love with the sour lemon, complimenting everything about the cupcake, from the taste to its messy texture. Noting she likes messy food in general and the overpowering center filling, it’s no surprise she called it a lemon bomb.

Winner: Tiffane’s.

Jon Roisman, Editorial Intern

Notes: Still amazed that eating cupcakes and analyzing them for half an hour is a part of his job, Jon couldn’t help but appreciate the originality of the overpowering lemon. However, it was just that: overpowering. The sour taste destroyed the remnants of other flavors in the cupcake, while the chocolate filling complemented the basic design of the compact but delicious all-chocolate cake of the competition. Despite citing it as rather boring, Jon went with one of his many loves in life: chocolate. “It doesn’t jump out at you like the lemon, but I can’t say no to chocolate.”

Winner: Walnut Creek Baking Company.

Barney Fonzi, Publisher

Having reached the first-ever deadlock in the history of the edit team's food battles, we had to call in a ringer...  Diablo publisher Barney Fonzi. Stating he loves chocolate and lemon, we knew this was going to come down to the wire. After devouring the chocolate, nodding his head and saying “I’m liking this one a lot,” Barney stepped right up to tackle the lemon. He enjoyed the overall taste and strength of the lemon, and noted they were both very good. But he knew he was called in for a reason: too make the tough calls. The editorial staff looked up and waited for the call... Walnut Creek Baking Company. “I’m enjoying every bit of it.”

Winner, and moving on to the finals: Walnut Creek Baking Company!

Overall Results

Tiffane’s may not have won, but they certainly took the competition down to the wire. Congratulations to Walnut Creek Baking Company for earning a spot in next week’s championship round. Please sound-off in the comments section on who your favorite is.


Happy Hour Bar & Bites at
The Cooperage

Monday through Friday
3pm – 5:30pm


This isn’t your typical happy hour. This quintessential neighborhood spot offers high-quality craft cocktails on tap and tasty bites. Menu features: $10 cocktails on tap, $5 select beer & wine, $1 oysters, $7 bacon cheeseburger sliders, $7 crispy beer battered shrimp sliders, $9 sashimi-grade ahi tuna tartare. 

32 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette
​Reservations: www.thecooperagelafayette.com or 925.298.5915

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