Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bakery Review: Pink Elephant Bakery

Pink Elephant Bakery - visited July 15, 2013
My coworkers and I are forming an official bakery exploration group, embarking on lunchtime field trips to try out different bakeries around the office.  And since most of them are marketing people, they were creative enough to come up with the name "Sugar Rush" to call our we'll-eat-sweets-anywhere-anytime group (thanks, Julie, for the name, lol).  Our first outing was to Frost and our second was to Pink Elephant, a Mexican bakery or panaderia.
I found Pink Elephant on yelp simply by searching for the highest rated bakery in the area.  They had a 4.5-star rating based on 103 reviews so it seemed like a good option to try.  We piled into 2 cars and, armed with GPS and google maps, made the quick drive over.  Although it wasn't that far, I'd never been to Pink Elephant before. It seemed to be in an older part of town and the bars on the windows gave me a bit of pause since you don't usually see that on a bakery.
Tres Leches cakes in the middle shelf: Cookies 'n Creme, Caramel & Original
Inside, the bakery itself was a large room with display cases full of colorful baked goods lining 3 of the 4 walls. The place was very neat and there were two nice ladies working behind the counter who were patient (and probably quietly amused) with this group of 7 women who came to ooh and ahh over the colorful, eye-candy displays.  According to yelp, Pink Elephant was known for their Tres Leches cake and there were 4 kinds in the display case; Cookies and Creme, Caramel, Mocha and Original which had strawberry jam in the middle.  I'm not a fan of jam so I went with the Caramel Tres Leches.

The cookies looked nice but looked like they were "fully baked" rather than the underbaked look I prefer so I passed on those.
Several types of pan dulce
Another common type of baked good in Mexican bakeries is pan dulce so I did get one of those to try.  When we got back to the office, I tried the pan dulce first.  The bread was a bit dense and rather, well, bread-y.  After the first bite, I warmed it up in the microwave for 10 seconds and much preferred the warmer texture than the room temp one.  It wasn't bad and somewhat reminiscent of a Filipino ensaimada but more dry and less sweet, despite the cinnamon sugar coating.  But it was filling so I didn't have room for the Tres Leches or the apple tart I also got until later that night.
Pan Dulce
Pan Dulce - tasted better warm
I haven't had Tres Leches very often and I've only made it once but I've had good tres leches cake before and I know what it tastes like.  The reviews were right in that Pink Elephant does make a good tres leches cake.  I don't know that I would make a special trip there just to buy this cake but it was delicious.  The layers were moist (of course) and the caramel flavor was superb. I scraped off most of the frosting only because I'm not a frosting person but I liked the cake itself.
Top view of Caramel Tres Leches Cake
Caramel Tres Leches Cake
The third thing I got at Pink Elephant was a slice of apple tart. I was trying to find something similar to what I'd gotten at Paris Baguette so I could do somewhat of an apples to apples (haha) comparison of the two bakeries.  I have to admit that unfortunately, the apple tart at Pink Elephant was not enjoyable.  I expected a flaky pastry and it definitely had layers but whereas a typical flaky pastry should be soft-crisp and buttery, the pastry on this apple tart was rubbery and dry, like it was lacking butter or even shortening.  I tried the first bite at room temperature but it was tough as leather so I warmed it up a little to see if the texture would improve.  It didn't.  Still tough when warm.  Pastry only gets this hard if it's too old or it was overworked and hard in the first place.  I ended up throwing it away after only two bites as the calories weren't worth it.
Apple Pastry
All in all, I'm not sure I understand that 4.5-star rating unless it was just on the Tres Leches cake alone.  And once again, my coworkers had the same feedback on the baked goods they bought so we're all pretty consistent on our taste preferences and it's not just me being overly picky.  I'm glad we went and tried it out though as we all agree the field trip itself with all of us laughing and having fun was better than all the baked goods we've tried.  And no one's enthusiasm seems to have dampened from trying out more bakeries so "Sugar Rush" will continue its field trips.  Stay tuned.

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