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Cupcakes have the power to make folks go completely gaga. How crazy? Well, as fanatical as a Sex and the City fan at New York’s Magnolia Bakery circa 2005. Those Carrie Bradshaw-lovers waited hours and hours in line for the bakery’s retro cool cupcakes. Think the cronut craze is bad? Well, Dominique Ansel’s creations ain’t got nothing on those cupcakes.

As cutesy as they are, we’d like to tap into some of that cupcake magic. Folks here still love their mini cakes (think of all the new cupcake specialists that have launched: Fluff Bakery, Audacious Bakery, #1 Baker Street). And amateur baking is definitely on the rise. We’re always meeting home bakers who’ve built a cult following selling their stuff to family and friends.

So we’ve launched a competition for aspiring baking professionals, a Christmas Cupcake Challenge. All you have to do is bring your cupcakes to our office (weekdays, between 10am and 6pm) at #14-03, 211 Henderson Rd. Cupcakes are judged based on taste, presentation and originality.

We’ve had nine entries so far, from six contestants. The first came from Brennagh Lee, 25, who baked up a gingerbread cupcake, decorated with a tall Christmas tree. It looked like quite an architectural feat, but Lee pulled it off by (ingeniously!) using an overturned ice cream cone as a base for some pastel green frosting. She bakes for family and friends too at her new start-up Blackbird Bakery.     

Then, there was Jade Foo, 39, (she blogs at Foodie Bakes) who made us fruit cake cupcakes, covered with both marzipan and fondant. Her little snowman and Santa Claus fondant decorations made the cakes almost too pretty to eat. She also brought us some delicious spiced apple cupcakes, which looked sophisticated and minimalist with just a swirl of buttery frosting.

Also in the running is Corrine Tan, 32, who delivered three entries: Hearty Hummingbird, Molten Passionfruit and Triple Chocolate cupcakes. Our favorite was the hummingbird cake. Not only did it come topped with a gorgeous dehydrated pineapple “flower” on the top, the cake itself was a delight, moist (but not too dense) from the addition of plenty of pineapple. The passionfruit entry had a unique light sponge cake base and the chocolate ones had a lovely banana filling.

Tan Li Qin, 22, had her brother deliver her carrot cupcakes to us as she couldn’t make it and was at school (aw, sweet). And Catherine Chua, 51, made some glittery, elaborate chocolate and butter cupcakes adorned with mini fondant bibles, candles and magers—it was really detailed work.  

Collette Height, 30, brought us three lovely, moist cupcakes: red velvet, chocolate peppermint and vanilla (colored red and green for the season). We loved the red velvet and chocolate peppermint, both the cake and the frosting!

And the competition is not closed yet. You can still bring your entries down to our office any time between now and the end of the year. All entries will be tasted, tested and written about—and we’re planning a grand finale in December. Please send at least two cupcakes of each flavor (one to taste and one to photograph). There's no upper limit on how many you can send. 

Chin Hui Wen
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Hearty Hummingbird, Molten Passionfruit, Triple Chocolate (Corrine Tan,32)
Gingerbread cupcake (Brennagh Lee, 25)
Fruitcake cupcakes (Jade Foo, 39)
Spiced apple cupcakes (Jade Foo, 39)
Carrot cupcakes (Tan Li Qin, 22)
Chocolate and butter cupcakes (Catherine Chua, 51)
Red velvet, chocolate peppermint, red-and-green vanilla (Collette Height, 30)