Friday, August 13, 2010

The story of cupcake bakery Le Petit Rouge unfolds at the Reading Reptile

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 1:30 PM

Reading Reptile co-owner Pete Cowdin behind the counter at the store's new bakery -- Le Petit Rouge.
  • Reading Reptile co-owner Pete Cowdin behind the counter at the store's new bakery -- Le Petit Rouge.

Fee..Fi...Fo...Fop...I smell a cupcake shop.

Le Petit Rouge -- the new bakery inside the children's book store Reading Reptile (328 West 63rd Street) -- officially opens for business during tomorrow's grand opening from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Readers of all ages at the Brookside shop might be surprised by the fairy-tale-inspired cupcakes with some very adult flavors.

The Little Red (foreground) and Jill are just two of the fairy tale inspired cupcakes.
  • The Little Red (foreground) and Jill are just two of the fairy tale inspired cupcakes.

It sounds like a story straight out of a children's book; but the decision to sell cupcakes in the store is more a reflection of the current economy.

"We just had one of our worst years in 20 years. So if we were ever going to go for it, we figured we'd go for it now," Cowdin says.

click to enlarge The kitchen is behind the book store.
  • The kitchen is behind the book store.
The cupcakes, baked daily from the new kitchen in back of the book shop, are complex flavor combinations. 

The Little Red ($2.50) is a cocoa red velvet cake with vanilla buttercream, while the Snow White ($2.50) is a springy white cake with poison apple frosting. The newest is the Little Pig ($3) -- milk chocolate cake with brown buttercream frosting and candied bacon.

My favorite of the ones I sampled was the Robin Hood (sold only in pairs for $4), Boulevard Dry Stout and ginger cake with lime buttercream. It tasted like a dense ginger snap softened by the slightly tart lime frosting.  

"So many cupcakes appeal to the eye, instead of treating it like a bonafide culinary experience. We wanted to find an amount of frosting and cake that is logical," Cowdin says.

And so he and wife Debbie Petid turned to Karen Geary, an operations manager with  Catering by Design. Geary gave Cowdin his first job at the Classic Cup before she moved on to help open Lidia's Kansas City and served as the Executive Chef at the Blvd Cafe.

In addition to cupcakes, Geary will be making birthday cakes to order like the Happily Ever After ($22) -- a chocolate zucchini cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting. And while she is showing her playful side with the Ugly Duckling (imperfect cupcakes for $1.50) and the Swing-Shift Cinderella (weekly whoopie pies, $2) -- you just won't see a lot of sprinkles at this cupcake shop.

"The Big Bad Wolf is the only one with sprinkles and that's just because Grandma would have made it with sprinkles," Cowdin says.  

The grand opening celebration runs tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be free samples and specials, including a 20 percent discount at the Reading Reptile for anybody that buys a dozen cupcakes.

Le Petit Rouge will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 12 to 3 p.m Sunday. You can schedule a pickup or order a cake by calling 816-753-0441. 

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