Cake doesn’t just have to come out for weddings, birthdays and office parties. The versatile dessert, snack or coffee companion is welcome just about anytime. Here are a baker’s dozen of the best cakes in Los Angeles.
Blue Cow’s opening executive chef Joshua Smith borrowed his grandmother’s recipe for St. Louis-style Gooey Butter Cake and delivered it like a culinary carrier pigeon to downtown’s California Plaza. The pleasantly chewy slab of yellow sheet cake lives up to its name and pairs exceptionally well with whipped cream and ripe strawberries.
Chef Corina Weibel and front of house partner Jane Choi cap many of their Mediterranean meals with Buena Chica cheesecake at their Atwater Village café. A base of crushed Graham crackers supports two delectable layers, the bottom rich with cream cheese, eggs and butter, the top touting tangy sour cream.
Cake Monkey pastry chef Elizabeth Belkind and business partner Lisa Olin don’t have a brick and mortar bakery, but they provide treats to a number of wholesale accounts, including Mid-City’s Paper or Plastik Café. Their Spiced Carrot Muffin is a moist, inverted trapezoid laced with carrot strands that comes topped with pistachio streusel.
This whimsical bakery in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley sells all manner of sweet and savory buns, but their most remarkable offering may be Crispy Cake. Two layers of feathery angel food sandwich crispy phyllo sheets. Round cakes sport decoratively raked whipped cream and fruit that aren’t necessarily seasonal, including strawberries and kiwi.
Essential Chocolate Desserts, a bakery from Melissa Sanders near SONY Studios in Culver City, taps into childhood (and adult) desires with options like an oversized Ding Dong. The chocolate cake sports a rich chocolate coat and an almost savory cream.
Jason Kim's seasonal, point-and-pick café near Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction usually has plenty of cakes on pedestals, including coffee and pecan bundt, but we prefer German Chocolate Cake. The dense chocolate fudge cake sandwiches sweet coconut cream, with caramel'd walnuts up top for texture.
This wine friendly bistro opened on the Sunset Strip in September, with chef Elia Aboumrad promoting charcuterie and pastry chef Uyen Nguyen taking up for a bygone French cake, St. Honoré. The dessert’s available in five seasonal flavors: vanilla, chocolate orange, pumpkin, pistachio, caramel apple. Pumpkin involves puff pastry topped with pumpkin custard, pistachio studded Chantilly cream, a ring of fondant-lined puff pastry, multiple choux lined with tiny white sugar granules, and orange pastry cream with a green fondant stem, which resembles a pumpkin.
This homey indoor-outdoor cafe near a South Pasadena Gold Line stop has soft jazz and great cake, including Southern influenced hummingbird cake and our favorite, coffee cake. Big slabs come streaked with of chocolate and crushed pecans, with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Chef Zoe Nathan and husband/business partner Josh Loeb pack the counter of their successful Santa Monica café with pastries galore. One modern classic is the Blueberry Cornmeal Cake, a slab with corn pudding like texture, plump berries and browned crust.
Na Young Ma has more indulgent desserts, but sometimes, restraint is the key to success. That’s certainly the case with Proof Bakery’s Vegan Tea Cake, a supple muffin baked with olive oil instead of butter, with a crisp sugary top and studs of walnuts and dates.
Hourie Sahakian continues her late mentor Amy Pressman’s efforts to please customers with panoply of whimsical baked goods from behind Short Cake’s packed counter inside The Original Farmers Market. For fall, at least one of Short Cake’s pedestals typically touts Spice Cake, seasoned with nutmeg, cinnamon and clove, cream cheese frosting and Muscovado brown butter crunch on top for texture’s sake.
Pastry chef Susan Sarich has spread her vision for American pastry to Northern California, and one of her top slices is of Tropical Coconut Cake. She layers vanilla cake with a sweet pineapple and coconut filling, slathers on coconut buttercream and shredded coconut without taking sweetness into oblivion.
This versatile bakery on Silver Lake’s fringe from chef Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman, Jr., revived Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake for a Los Angeles Times story on wedding cakes. Blum’s was a bakery with nine California branches, and their most famous cake lives on at Valerie’s, with airy sponge cake, coffee whipped cream frosting and crunchy shards that start to dissolve after a couple hours, so eat quickly.
Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar
350 S. Grand Ave., Downtown, 213.621.2249
3219 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village, 323.666.7133
708 E. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, 626.451.0101
Essential Chocolate Desserts
10868 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 310.287.0699
3823 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 323.663.6885
8917 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 310.657.6328
Heirloom Café & Bakery
807 Meridian Ave., South Pasadena, 626.441.0042
1014 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.451.2311
3156 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village, 323.664.8633
6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, 323.761.7976
11708 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, 310.442.2253; 23653 Calabasas Rd., Calabasas, 818.591.2223; 3500 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach, 310.303.3780
3360 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, 213.739.8149