Torontoist's Birthday Cupcake Bake-Off: The Winners!
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Torontoist’s Birthday Cupcake Bake-Off: The Winners!

The beginnings of what would one day be Torontoist’s Birthday Cupcake Bake-Off grand prize winner. Just you wait.

After two weeks, two dozen spectacular contestants, and too many prizes to count from some of our favourite local businesses, Torontoist is pleased to announce the winners of our great birthday cupcake bake-off, a contest that the Globe and Mail called “the cutest contest ever” (for real!).
Created to help celebrate Toronto’s 175th birthday, the contest asked for “a cupcake that says ‘Toronto,'” one that “channel[ed] the essence, or an aspect of, ‘Toronto.'” Winners were chosen by Torontoist’s staff, voted for based on the cupcakes being original, aesthetically pleasing (or at least aesthetically intriguing), and, of course, as Toronto-y as possible. Picking our winners was no easy task for anyone, but we managed to narrow down the field to a few of our favourites, which you probably want us to stop talking about so that you can actually see them and hear about them from their creators.

Grand Prize Winner

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“Toronto cannot be expressed in just one cupcake; it is such a colorful multi-cultural city, lots to see, do and eat, accessible, fun and interesting. Here is a counter clockwise tour of my rainbow cupcakes starting from the top left: The Airport: an international airport where everyplace is accessible; High Park: a huge park right in the middle of the city; Music and drinks all across town; Rogers Centre and the CN Tower; Cabs everywhere: you never have to call them!; The TTC streetcar: easy to get around; The Beaches in the east end: volleyball and blue flag beaches; The 401 highway takes you to Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, and many more!; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; City Hall; Chinatown: always good dim sum!; and bicycles everywhere in the city.”
Winner of $50 cash; a $50 gift card for the Drake Hotel‘s café, and two “shack chaud” drink vouchers for their winterized Sky Yard; two passes to the AGO; a $25 gift certificate to Dufflet Pastries and an “Eat More Cake” canvas bag; subscriptions to Spacing and This Magazine; a copy of Bold Visions: The Architecture of the Royal Ontario Museum, courtesy of the ROM; and an Arts&Crafts “goody bag.”


“This is a vanilla cupcake covered in fondant which has been dyed to match the colour of the night sky. The sign is constructed of gumpaste and red fondant with icing for the lettering and gold dragees to simulate the lights of the sign.”
“I chose to do a cupcake representation of the Toronto transit system, specifically the subway lines. I feel that the TTC subway lines represent how Toronto has grown in the last century. Also, the subway system shows how Torontonians feel about our city and how we can travel from Kipling Station to McCowan (whether we actually know these stations or not) and from Finch to Union to Downsview. We can even go to Don Mills Station, should we ever actually use the Sheppard Line. We have a big sprawling city, and a big sprawling subway. Let’s praise the TTC for bringing us all together! And yes, there is a cupcake for each station (two for Spadina, cause it’s a bit whacked).”
Winners (each) of $25 cash, an Arts&Crafts “goody bag,” and a Dufflet Pastries “Eat More Cake” canvas bag.

Honorable Mentions

“It’s the anything-but-vanilla cupcake! This delectable delight is made of a five spice cake with sunshiny lemon cream cheese frosting. On top is a mini Toronto street scene made out of fondant. It’s a view of some shops on Spadina Avenue, with a couple of trees and a road made of chocolate sprinkles. The star of the cupcake is the tiny edible streetcar which reads ‘Happy 175th T.O.!'”
“I was inspired by the multiculturalism in Toronto that I feel makes my city what it is today. As a first generation Canada-born citizen I feel that Toronto has not only opened its arms to the diversity of the world, but by doing so has given colour to itself. The flags on the outside of the cupcake are symbolic of holding up the base of Toronto’s multicultural essence, and the colourful buildings are symbolic of the social, economical, and racial diversity. The famous CN Tower, Skydome (now the Rogers Centre), City Hall, and the beautiful skyline are what stands out to me when I am fast approaching the city from my suburban home on the DVP. For me being a Torontonian not only gives me pride in my [being a] Canadian Citizen, but it gives me the opportunity to experience the world through its ethnic contributions which is what my cupcake represents. For me, my Toronto is pride in colourful diversity Happy 175th Birthday Toronto!”
Winners (each) of an Arts&Crafts “goody bag” and a Dufflet Pastries “Eat More Cake” canvas bag.

And Rounding Out the Top Dozen…

“To me Toronto is…. the stark contrast of the lake and the amazing skyline. My niece has taught children to canoe and kayak each summer at the Harbourfront kids’ camp so I tried to incorporate all of these aspects onto one small cupcake..”
“This cupcake is about Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Program. Yaaaay! I think it’s pretty great that our city has come up with a fairly efficient system to separate waste, diverting items (recyclables and compostables) from going to landfills. All single-family homes must use the tri-coloured bin system in order to have any garbage collected. The reason why these bins scream Toronto to me is because it’s hard to walk through any community and not see at least one of these bins; our sidewalks are lined them! So rather than viewing them as unsightly additions to our streetscapes (as they are rather large and hard to store in smaller homes/apartments, aaaaand take up ridiculous amounts of space) I would like to propose that we all appreciate the bins as green, grey, and blue symbols of Toronto’s sustainable efforts.”
“My inspiration for these cupcakes is Mill Street’s Coffee Porter and Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion. I wanted them to look like an old sepia-toned photograph taken from the 1920s, when Toronto’s bridges and tunnels were under construction by immigrants, creating an important backbone of multiculturalism for the city. The main ingredient in these is locally brewed beer, which itself is made from locally brewed Balzac’s coffee. The beer makes these cupcakes rich and moist and the hint of coffee is the ultimate compliment to the chocolate batter. I made caramel cream cheese frosting because the flavour compliments the cake and the colour ties in with the sepia-theme. Immigration, multiculturalism, beer, and coffee—all in one cupcake!”
“On my cupcake I chose to depict one of my favourite views of Toronto, the Redpath Sugar refinery by the lakefront: the ever changing water keeps me in touch with nature and the teachings of the people of the First Nations; the Refinery is the last plant left reminding me of the history of the port of Toronto; the Royal Bank building is the most magnificent jewel on the skyline; the buildings remind me of the many activities Toronto has to offer: arts, entertainment, science, business ….; [and] I love the ice in the harbour. The recipe is orange-chocolate marble cake, symbolizing the multinational marble of Toronto. The decorations are made out of pastillage (sugar dough) and are coloured with food colouring. The icing is chocolate ganache and buttercream. The whole cupcake is edible.”
“This cupcake design is pretty self-explanatory! The CN Tower (my goodness the CN Tower is not easy to make) is the Toronto aspect and the 175 refers to the birthday age! Oh, and the cupcake is chocolate with chocolate ganache buttercream. The decorations are made from fondant.”
“My friend and I baked some Blue Jays/Skydome (errr…Rogers Centre) cupcakes! We figured, hey, summer is awesome. Summer in Toronto is especially awesome, and we really, really miss it. Though we wanted to do a cupcake for every kind of amazing thing you can do here (when it’s not so cold out that all you wanna do is put on your onesie and cover yourself in blankets and hibernate for months) we felt baseball was the best summation. Bike riding and picnicing and patio drinking and all those other great summer time things are incorporated into a successful baseball adventure anyhow, so here it is! One of the greatest, most fun buildings in Toronto, dome open and mid-game (note that most of the fans in stand are blue sprinkles…hometown fans!). Conveniently, our kitchen happens to be bright blue (like the sunny summer skies!) and so we threw some marshmallow clouds and a marshmallow CN Tower on the wall for some perspective, and to keep us busy while the cupcakes baked.”
“Okay. So I tried making these cupcakes even though I do not have cupcake making skills….I also don’t have baking skills. So I thought you can just pour cupcake batter into those little paper things and put them on a tray when in fact that makes them gradually (so gradually it might take you five–ten minutes to notice) spill out of their (weak!!) paper things onto the tray, leaving no batter for your cupcakes. So my cupcakes are rather small and flat. To decorate them I thought you could make fondant, like how they always make on the food network in cake competitions, but it turns out that molding little people or buildings out of fondant is almost impossible because it slumps down so fast, and it’s very sticky and doesn’t hold a shape well. Also I thought food colouring is washable if you get it in your hands but mine hasn’t come out yet so my fingernails look like they’re brimming with blood underneath. It took me four hours and now that picture is all I have to show for it. I am disappointed because I thought I was going to make these awesome professional-looking cupcakes that were going to blow everyone away but it turns out my cupcakes are pretty embarrassing and you can’t even tell what they are unless they are captioned. However, I did spend several hours on them so I am sending this picture anyway, and perhaps it can be used as a future warning to people who think that if you’ve never made cupcakes and you have two left hands in the kitchen you can enter a cupcake-making contest.”
Winners, hold tight! We’ll be contacting you soon to get you your prizes.
All photos courtesy the respective entrants.