Spree food writers say goodbye to the little cupcake shop that could
The opening window display of Zillycakes featured a seamstress theme, replete with hundreds of gum paste buttons.
Zillycakes on facebook
We've had the privilege of covering Zilly Rosen and Zillycakes many times over the last few years. Rosen, owner of the popular Elmwood bakery and fine arts instructor, began her pastry career as a cookie artist. In recent years, she opened Buffalo's first cupcake-focused bakery (and its first and only cupcake bar), appeared on Food Network's Cake Challenge, made the national papers with her cupcake odes (one and two) to Obama and others, and basically swept Buffalo off its chicken wing-lovin' feet.
It is bittersweet to bid adieu to one of our favorite bakeries while simultaneously awaiting the transition of Zillycakes into a second location of the popular East Aurora cupcake shop, Firefly. The new location will feature a cake workshop for Rosen, where she will work as a "cake designer, a flavor developer, and a teacher," according to Hungry for More. With that, we've asked our food writers to share a few thoughts about the little cupcake shop that could.
"When I was working at Park School, I once ran fourteen miles for a training run, then rode my bike 45 minutes to Park from my apartment in the city. When I arrived, there were Zilly's vegan chocolate mint and peanut butter cupcakes in the office. It was just about the best cupcake lunch I've ever had. Thanks for the great marathon training fuel, Zilly!" —Julia Burke
"I have many memories of popping into Zillycakes for a little treat with my son, but what I remember most is that Zilly created a wonderful, child-friendly atmosphere. I remember one time when we came in for cupcakes, although Zilly was busy with one of her artistic creations, she stopped what she was doing and brought out her magic box of baking toys. It was the kind of personal attention, coupled with absolutely delicious treats, that made Zillycakes so special." —Rachel Fix Dominguez
"Zillycakes was, for me and most of my friends, the food-based outlet for two very strong emotions: guilt and joy. When a Rochester friend came to Buffalo and enjoyed a bit too much Belgian beer, he brought his girlfriend back white lavender with white Italian buttercream (after some time and coffee). When a friend lands a promotion, you stop by with chocolate Guinness with Bailey's filling. When you saunter out for burgers while the wife watches the dog and microwaves vegetables, you are advised to bring back red velvet, and when you absolutely nail the ending to a story you've been working on, you should march right up to the counter and buy yourself an Elvis.
Last week, my wife and I bought an assorted dozen and experienced a new Zillycakes emotion: wistfulness. We're hopeful that they won't be our last—me, in particular, because I feel a bit guilty about sneaking a chocolate ganache the other day. As breakfast." —Kevin Purdy
"Zillycakes has been my favorite cupcake bakery in WNY since the day it opened. From my first chat with Zilly Rosen in 2008, while she was doing my wedding cake through Dolci, I knew she was special. She took such care with her clients. She considered herself an artist more than a baker, and her artistry is evident, but the quality and creativity of flavors is as remarkable.
My favorite cupcakes were the Elvis (banana cake with peanut butter chips and milk chocolate peanut butter buttercream), the piña colada cupcake with pineapple rum buttercream, and the pistachio cupcake with rose buttercream. She also introduced me to the amazing Sarah Walley macarons, which I've been enjoying ever since.
Zilly led the area in the cupcake bakery trend, with nearly 10 more following in the few years since she opened. For the first couple years Zillycakes was open, my husband and I had a ritual of walking to get a cupcake together once a month to enjoy a new flavor. I'm very sad to see Zillycakes close, but Zilly will always hold a special place in our lives--her work is in our wedding album, after all! I wish her the best in whatever comes next." —Nina Barone
Here at Spree we've covered a number of Zilly's projects and successes, as well as stories that feature her fans and cupcakes. Here's a quick round-up:
Under the Zillycakes mantle, Rosen has also done dozens of other inspiring and creative things, like crafting a cupcake Marie Antoinette, participating in Beyond/In WNY, and constructing a 450 lb. version of the Larkin building.
Zillycakes is open through Saturday, so get your fix while you can!