When I started this column 18 months ago, I figured I’d exhaust the South Shore food scene is a few months. But, every time I search the area for a particular type of food maker, baker, business, cook, or restaurant, I find someone doing it, and I become amazed by the depth in my own backyard.
The South Shore seems to have at least a really great one of everything, food-wise, as well as many firsts, bests, and authentic ones-of-a-kind. I, who fantasize about covering the food scene in Boston, L.A. or NYC, keep finding more and more people here doing beautiful things with food.
Take Pastry Chef Kerri Lynch-Delaney [left] and her great cupcake bakery, Babycakes, on Beale Street in Quincy.
Truth be told, I’ve barely given a thought to cupcakes since I was little and Hostess two-packs were a treasure in my hot little hands. I did know they’d become a popular trend, but I didn’t know why. Then, a visit to Babycakes changed all that.
“Welcome to my little drama,” said Lynch-Delaney last week as she chatted with customers (many by name) and I delighted over the (real) whipped cream center in her signature cupcake, the Babycake, a dark chocolate, ganache-covered version of my childhood love, the Hostess cupcake.
As I tasted my way through several other cupcakes, a steady parade of people came into the bakery either to buy their favorites or to seek advice on a special order for an upcoming event.
Although Lynch-Delaney’s husband and parents thought she was crazy to open a dedicated cupcake shop, the pastry chef has done well right from the start, four years ago.
Because her cupcakes are delicious gourmet cakes made daily, from scratch, with whole, local ingredients. We’re talking at least a couple dozen different flavors, frosted with ganache, butter cream, or whipped cream icing -- many of which are filled with creamy or gooey centers or covered with a little something extra.
Then, too, there’s the inherent fun factor of really good cupcakes. From listening to her customers, it’s clear that people love choosing their own treat from among a bunch of delicious options and having a piece of great cake for so little money.
The most expensive cupcake Lynch-Delaney sells is her delicious French toast ($2.75). The rest of her menu of cupcakes and daily special flavors are either $1.50 or $2.25. Amazingly inexpensive.
Before opening Babycakes, Lynch-Delaney spent 10 years at her craft, starting with a pastry course at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts then working at several top Boston restaurants.
It takes a little digging to uncover the link between Lynch-Delaney and Boston culinary royalty: Chef Barbara Lynch (one of the country’s most acclaimed chefs -- think No. 9 Park and the new, stratospheric Menton, among others) is her aunt.
Not wanting to ride on her family connections, Lynch-Delaney worked at No. 9 Park for a year following culinary school, then left to spend two years as pastry chef at the Quincy Marriott. Following that, she returned to No. 9 Park for a longer stint -- as assistant pastry chef under Pastry Chef Kerry Manning.
“Working under Kerry was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Lynch-Delaney.
The pastry chef tells each customer that the cupcakes need to be refrigerated but taste best when eaten at room temperature. And she’s so right. I tried 10 of her cupcakes, and thought they were all great!
I loved the mix of hot pepper and dark chocolate in the Mexican hot chocolate – and its cinnamon whipped cream frosting. The lemon coconut was a standout, too, inspired by “the lemon semifreddo with coconut on top I learned working for Barbara,” said Lynch-Delaney, referring to her aunt. I can also vouch for the Boston creme (with its vanilla pastry cream center), the carrot, the turtle [shown above], and the chocolate caramel.
Lynch-Delaney not only shares a talent for food with her aunt, but some of the irreverence Chef Lynch is known for. She laughs and teases with customers, offers coffee, credit (“don’t worry about it, pay me later”), and provides a little something perfectly sweet, just for one.