New Langley cupcake shop offers local names, ingredients

Krista Holmberg and her mother Ann Spink celebrated the recent opening of their new store

LANGLEY — There’s a new spot to satiate a sweet tooth on the South End — Whidbey Cupcakes.

Whidbey Cupcakes opened the day before Thanksgiving, just before the holiday season began in earnest. It’s the place where “every day is a cupcake day.”

“We wanted to be open for the holiday people,” said Krista Holmberg, one of the creators, bakers and managers.

The family operation by sisters Holmberg and Jana Crane, and their parents Ann and Lyle Spink, began as a hobby of Crane’s. The former nurse enjoyed baking and decorating cupcakes. After posting some photos on Facebook, she was encouraged to sell her confections.

When she hurt her back, Holmberg offered to pick up the slack. They began selling the cupcakes at farmers markets across Whidbey Island, and when retail space opened across from the Clyde Theatre on First Street, it was icing on the cake.

Located in Langley, it’s the only cupcake shop in town. Actually, it’s the only cupcake store on the entire island. And for $3, customers can bite into the best-selling Double Bluff, made with Ghirardelli chocolate cake with caramel buttercream frosting. Those craving a little zing may like the Saratoga, the second-best seller, which is a lemon butter cake with lemon curd filling and toasted meringue.

For now, Whidbey Cupcakes has 10 cupcakes to choose from every day, plus a rotating daily pick and seasonal specials.

The Snickerdoodle is Ann Spink’s favorite, but that is only offered Saturdays. Her husband’s pick is the Mount Rainier — a coconut-batter cake with vanilla cream rolled in toasted coconut shavings.

“That’s my favorite,” he said. “I gotta not eat so many, though.”

Whidbey Cupcakes also has two specialty cupcakes, one vegan and one gluten-free. The vegan Deception Pass is available in both vanilla and chocolate with buttercream frosting and sprinkles. The gluten-free Choochokam has a Ghirardelli chocolate cake, Madagascar vanilla and buttercream frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

The sugary sweets are fine in moderation — or not — for Ann, who was a career dentist.

“Just brush your teeth and floss,” she said.

Holmberg, her youngest daughter, remembered that things weren’t so sweet when she was a kid.

“When we were little, we weren’t allowed to have sugar cereals,” Holmberg said.

Now, they are pushing premium cupcakes. From the standard size to the minis to the ornate wedding cupcakes, Whidbey Cupcakes has it covered, literally.

The frosting, Holmberg and Spink assured, is the perfect amount — not too thick, not too thin.

“Ours is a good amount that it isn’t an overwhelming amount of frosting,” Holmberg said.

The treats are moist but not heavy.

The reason for the fine balance is cupcake chemistry. When baking the cupcakes Mondays at the commercial kitchen at the Deer Lagoon Grange, Holmberg, Crane and Spink make sure the ingredients are room temperature.

“They’re not heavy,” Holmberg said. “There’s really chemistry involved in it.”

That’s a few disciplines removed from her degree from Washington State University. Holmberg graduated with a degree in human development, and she wanted to teach kindergarten. She also wanted to be an ancient historian, specifically in Greece — the land of sweet, creamy Greek yogurt. Economic turmoil derailed her plans to visit the birthplace of democracy, however, and her return to Whidbey Island turned out to be a sweet surprise.

The owners, managers and operators want to keep their business as local as possible. Most, if not all, of the fruit they use is purchased at farmers markets on Whidbey. Any coffee they choose to pair with their cupcakes will be from a Whidbey company, too.

One way they exercise their community ties is by donating day-old cupcakes to St. Hubert Catholic Church and Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Langley.

“We really want to be community oriented,” Holmberg said.

Before the store was stocked, shelved or open, passers-by stopped to ask if they had any cupcakes for sale.

“We’ve had people stopping by today wanting cupcakes,” Spink said.

Holmberg said they’ll have suggestion boxes and would love to hear ideas for new flavors.

Not all of their experiments were met with success, however. Holmberg and Spink admitted the PB&J cupcake they made for back-to-school week had weak sales.

“The stickiness of the jelly and the pink frosting may have given parents pause,” Holmberg said.

The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The daily specials are Boston Cream Pie on Wednesdays; Mocha Espresso Bean on Thursdays; Reese’s in Pieces on Fridays; Snickerdoodles on Saturdays; and Maple Bacon on Sundays. Whidbey Cupcakes is located at 220 First St. and can be reached at 321-6656.