Monday, December 23, 2013

Bakery Review: Susie Cakes

Susie Cakes - visited December 7, 2013
The day I went to Penzey's, I parked my car further away and had to walk down the street to get there. I was innocently walking by looking for Penzey's storefront when I just happened to walk past this bakery named Susie Cakes. A bakery? Right in front of me? You can probably guess what happened next. Although I will say I did refrain from walking in right that minute and went to Penzey's first because I really was on a mission. But after I had my Penzey's experience, I did have to walk past Susie Cakes to get to my car so naturally I detoured inside.
My first reaction was, "OMG, why have I never heard of this bakery before and what took me so long to discover it?" Granted, it's not in my neighborhood and further away but it isn't like it's on Mars or anything. And we know I travel far and wide for baked goods. Susie Cakes is exactly the type of bakery I love. It's bright and spacious with lots of light, the better to see the baked goods on display.  Most stunning is the array of very tall, very mouthwatering layer cakes under high glass cake domes. Think 50s diner that screams homemade goodness. Sometimes you just know something is going to be good just by looking at it. Such is Susie Cakes.
It can probably go without saying that my biggest problem was choosing which form(s) of luscious, empty-but-I-don't-care calories I wanted to consume. Past experience says I shouldn't get more than 2 items. I can certainly eat more than 2 (oh boy, can I) but it would take me more than 2 days to consume a third item and that puts any baked goods past my freshness window. So I had to restrict myself to 2.  At least on that day. The red velvet cake looked amazing but I had just had red velvet so I told myself to get something else. There's only so much red dye #5 I should probably consume in a short timeframe. I almost got a slice of the towering coconut cake because of my love for coconut but the description by the cake stand said it had pineapple in it and that violated my coconut-only principles for coconut cake. Instead, I went with the German chocolate cake to provide both a coconut and chocolate fix and the 5" mini apple pie.
Slice of German Chocolate Cake - $5.50
I was quite impressed with the care that the nice man behind the counter took in packaging up my purchases. Each was individually boxed and the boxes were lined with parchment paper inside so you could easily lift out your item with damaging it or getting frosting or crumbs on yourself. It transferred easily to a plate, ready for that first forkful. Then I was even more impressed because the cake was freaking amazing. Four layers of chocolate goodness sandwiching coconut pecan frosting/filling. It was rich so I had to eat slowly but all the better to savor it, right? The cake was moist and had the perfect cakey but fudgy mouthfeel. It's the kind of cake you don't just eat but you experience. If you've ever had a stereotype of blue ribbon, prize-winning layer cakes in small town America at the country fair, that's the kind of homey goodness I would associate with Susie Cakes. Nothing fancy but just simple goodness. Truthfully, I prefer that over haute cuisine baked goods any day.
5" apple pie - $8.95
After a suitable period, i.e. enough time had passed to ingest a few bites of cake and let my blood sugar settle, I moved on to try the pie. I didn't think it could be better than the cake but I was wrong. First, it was just pure apples, something I had the bakery man confirm before I purchased it because apple pie should only contain apples. No nuts, no raisins, nothing but apples and pastry. Susie Cakes' pie exceeded all my expectations. The apples weren't too tart or too sweet, the crust was flaky and the top crumb topping was the best. Instead of just scattering crumbs on top, they squeezed them into streusel clumps which then baked with a nice crisp texture to contrast with the softness of the filling and flakiness of the crust. Genius.

The only drawback to Susie Cakes is they ain't cheap. Just those two items came to $14.45. For that amount I could've had lunch and a drink elsewhere instead of a mini pie and a cake slice. Or purchased a dozen items at Asian bakeries like Sheng Kee and Paris Baguette. But still, there's something to be said for the indulgence. I don't think I'd go that often, partly because of the distance and partly because even one cake slice is a big indulgence on the calorie meter as well as the wallet. But for an occasional treat, I'd definitely go back as well as recommend it to others. Just based on those two items I tried, this might even rival my favorite bakery, Icing on the Cake. And you know how I feel about them.

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