When Daisy Caf? and Cupcakery opened in May 2009, its owners had no idea their little cakes would be such a big hit.
“My partner came from Seattle, and there are all kinds of cupcake places there,” co-owner and general manager Kathy Brooks said. “When they moved here, his wife was wondering where they could get a good cupcake, and there really wasn’t anywhere to do it. So, we decided to add that to our caf?, and it has taken off like there’s no tomorrow. We had no idea that we were going to sell that many cupcakes.”
According to its website, Daisy Caf? has created more than 100 different kinds of cupcakes and sold more than 50,000 of the small but decadent desserts since opening last spring. Apparently, Madisonians are crazy for cupcakes. But according to Brooks, there’s a good reason for the popularity of these desserts.
“It’s not like buying a five dollar piece of cake,” Brooks said. “It’s a lower commitment. And it’s new in Madison.”
At Daisy Caf? and Cupcakery, mismatched wooden chairs and tables, soft lighting and brightly colored artwork create a soothing but cheerful atmosphere for enjoying an entire meal or just a cupcake. The bakery case reveals a mouth-watering array of moist cakes topped with huge dollops of butter cream frosting.
“Our rule is, we don’t ever use preservatives, we don’t use anything frozen, only fresh fruit, all-natural ingredients,” Brooks said.
So whether the cake is banana-flavored, lemon-flavored or lime-flavored, it’s made with real fruit.
If your experience with cupcakes has been limited to Funfetti from a box and frosting from a jar, you’re in for a treat (though Funfetti is considerably cheaper — these cupcakes cost about $2 a pop). Daisy Caf? offers about a dozen cupcake flavors daily, ranging from the more traditional chocolate to banana cake with chocolate peanut butter swirl frosting. Daisy Caf? also offers vegan and deluxe cupcakes, like coconut chocolate cake with coconut cream filling and chocolate buttercream frosting.
If you didn’t think cupcakes could get any more decadent — or complicated — think again. Daisy recently introduced the “Lush-ous” line — cupcakes made with alcoholic beverages.
“The first one we tried was a Contorter Porter dark beer,” Brooks explained. “And it turned out so well that we decided to try champagne.”
As a result of this brilliant experiment, the Cupcakery boasts chocolate-porter cake with chocolate frosting, apple brandy cake with cream cheese frosting and champagne cake with fresh strawberry frosting.
Cupcakes might be Daisy Caf?’s claim to fame, but its breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are worth a try as well.
“We wanted to create a plate that had the proper amount of protein, starch and fruit or vegetable so that it was absolutely the correct amount of everything,” Brooks said of crafting the menu. “The fruit on the plate is not a garnish; it’s actually a main portion on the plate. So you leave feeling good.”
Breakfast specialties include four different types of strata, a sort of baked-egg souffl?. The dinner menu features classic dishes with quirky twists, like chorizo and pepper jack meatloaf. The majority of Daisy’s ingredients are made in-house or bought locally.
“Everything is from scratch,” Brooks said. “And we don’t even have a deep fryer.”
Daisy Caf? also partners with Porchlight, a local organization that helps homeless people in Madison secure employment. Porchlight Products available at Daisy Caf? include pasta sauce, salsa, a variety of jellies and jams and a pancake mix that’s also on the menu. The multigrain Porchlight pancakes are a must-try — they’re fluffy with a perfectly crisped edge.
Daisy Caf? and Cupcakery is not the only cupcake shop to hit the Madison dining scene in the past few months. Brooks said she’s tried the competition but doesn’t seem fazed by it.
“Because they are all so different, it’s like trying wine — one person’s going to like it, and the other person’s not,” she said.
It would be difficult, however, to find anyone with a sweet tooth who could pass up a cupcake from Daisy Caf? and Cupcakery. And they’re so rich that even the biggest cupcake lovers will want to share.
Daisy Caf? and Cupcakery is located at 2827 Atwood Ave.