Sugar Sweet Sunshine vs Babycakes – LES cupcakeries

It occurred to me that I lived nearby two bakeries that specialize in cupcakes, so why not pit them against each other? I started at Sugar Sweet Sunshine and then headed over to Babycakes.

There’s an assortment of about 7 different chairs at Sugar Sweet. No two were matching and all were worn well through the plastic and paint. The aging furniture and photographs of babies covering the wall added to the charming vibe. The names given to the treats were quite cheerful as well. I asked for a Sexy Red Velvet and a Sunshine (both $1.75). The girls at the counter were two friendly Aussies that seemed to enjoy being there. A cupcake with a smile.

The Sexy Red Velvet was a favorite among their customers. Not to be confused with the Sassy Red Velvet (which has chocolate-almond buttercream), the sexy edition was a red velvet cake under vanilla frosting. My usual aversion to cupcakes is that the frosting is a thick mix of grainy sugar a la Crumbs Bakery. A bite of this cupcake was enough to allay my concerns. The vanilla frosting was light, fluffy, and evenly smooth. The texture was just right. I didn’t enjoy the cake as much, finding it to be too heavy and mushy.

My experience with the the Sunshine cupcake was the opposite. The vanilla buttercream had a slightly hard coating. The yellow cake however, had the light airiness that I was looking for in the red velvet. Both were moderately sweet, so it was texture that I focused my attention on.


Babycakes was up next. It’s a small vegan bakery, and a favorite of many celebrities ranging from Zach Galifanakis to Pamela Anderson. Liz and I grabbed stools in the cramped waiting area, where signed photographs stared at us. The selection varied from “day-old” cupcakes (half price) to gluten-free, which resulted in a a few minutes of trying to decide what to get.

We both settled on the non-gluten-free, spelt flour Vanilla, which was a pricey $3.75. I was curious to see how Babycakes would make a cupcake without eggs, butter, and milk. It only took a small bite to find an answer. What hit my tongue tasted like a mixture of what I imagine bitter medicine and gasoline would taste like. To label it as vanilla was a scam. From Liz’s reaction, I could tell she agreed that it was awful.

The frosting had the texture of cold toothpaste, and you can see from the picture how it reacted to a bite. I looked around the crowded bakery and began to pity all the vegans for having to stoop so low to enjoy a cupcake. The smell of it was even worse than the aftertaste. Framed right in front of me happened to be the listing of ingredients for both the frosting and the cake. The list had an unappetizing mix of monocalcium phosphates, pyrophosphates, xanthan gum, and many other items that convinced me to toss out the lab experiment they called a cupcake.


The clear winner is Sugar Sweet Sunshine. If eating a vegan cupcake is an acquired taste, it’s one that I’d rather not acquire.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine (site) ★★★★☆
126 Rivington St (between Essex St & Norfolk St) map
New York, NY 10002
Neighborhood: Lower East Side

BabyCakes NYC (site) ★☆☆☆☆
248 Broome St (between Ludlow St & Orchard St) map
New York, NY 10002
Neighborhood: Lower East Side


7 responses to “Sugar Sweet Sunshine vs Babycakes – LES cupcakeries

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