One Person’s Pastry is Another Person’s Ladder

CUPCAKES RULE. THE SOFT, FITS-IN-THE-HAND-SIZED treat, sometimes filled with flavored cream (and always with cream on top), is my favorite dessert. Shabbat dinner wouldn’t be Shabbat dinner without one (or maybe two). But cupcakes as societal re-entry mechanism? Better still.

The baked goods from Richmond, California-based Rubicon Bakery are the exemplar of the form — not too sweet, not too small, delicious either refrigerated or at room temperature. They are an affordable $4.67 for a container of four at my local Whole Foods. And there’s an added incentive to buy them: Rubicon Bakery’s employees are reinventing themselves after brushes with prison, addiction, and other un-bakerly challenges.

Rubicon Bakery’s website includes video testimonials from many of their staff, who describe a close and familial work environment and one that teaches valuable journeyman skills; you can be a baker anywhere there’s an oven and some flour. And they make more than just cupcakes — other products include cakes of all sizes, muffins, and cookies. A wholesale bakery, Rubicon also sells “blanks:” unfrosted cakes and cupcakes ready for their retail and other customers to frost and, presumably, write birthday or other messages on. They are available all over the United States, and if your local grocer doesn’t carry them, just ask. Confectionary bootstrapping — how can you go wrong?

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