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Looking for a good cake in San Diego

darkmob Nov 30, 2006 05:30 AM

I'm looking for a bakery or dessert place that makes a cake that is:

-Light, but not so much that it doesn't feel like you had anything after a slice.
-Flavorful without being overly sweet--> actually being able to finish off a piece.
-Well balance of flavors, the icing/frosting shouldn't be the main focus.
-Creative!!! I am bored from the same old flavor combos. I want to try something innovative (but still tastes good). Don't get me wrong, I love the traditional flavors and cakes, but there must be more out there!!

Reason being for my search...it is almost my birthday and I don't just want any cake. If I am going to have a cake, I want something spectacular!!! Please, HELP!!!

  1. g
    glbtrtr Nov 30, 2006 05:30 AM

    Costco - no kidding.

    1. DiningDiva Nov 30, 2006 01:09 PM

      There have been quite a few threads on where to find good cakes in San Diego in the last month or so, here's a link to one of the more productive threads

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/336465

      1. Josh Nov 30, 2006 02:52 PM

        Extraordinary Desserts is where I'd go if I was in your shoes. They have cakes that match your description. We got a birthday cake there for a friend, a lemon custard cake. Simply phenomenal. For some reason they never seem to be serving that as a dine-in option.

        http://www.extraordinarydesserts.com

        Another option you should consider is Michele Coulon in La Jolla. Her cakes are amazing, and also meet your criteria.

        http://www.dessertier.com/

        1. m
          mliew Nov 30, 2006 04:51 PM

          People keep talking about Extraordinary Desserts but both times I've been there (to the one in Hillcrest), I've found them to be far less than extraordinary. Both times I ordered cake, and the cake was kind of firm and almost wet, not spongy and moist like cake should be. Maybe its different if you order a whole cake, I don't know. But for the amount they charge and having to deal with all the crowds late at night I was extremely disappointed.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mliew
            honkman Nov 30, 2006 05:02 PM

            You are describing the difference between american and european style cake. Extraordinary Desserts is european style where you want to have a firm cake and nothing spongy like you normally get here in the US.

          2. phee Nov 30, 2006 06:17 PM

            Try Flour Power in El Cajon.

            http://www.flourpower.com/CakeMenu.html

            1. n
              normalheightsfoodie Nov 30, 2006 07:08 PM

              The Grove Bakery in Lemon Grove makes great cakes. They have a fantastic TRES LECHES. We also use TWIGGS in Hillcrest. They have a coffee shop and a bakery. You need to call ahead to order. They have a lemon tarte that is great. We recently had the Mocha, and it was a winner!

              1. g
                glbtrtr Nov 30, 2006 09:18 PM

                This place sets the standard for imaginative cakes in Santa Barbara - how does it compare to what is great in San Diego:

                http://www.sugarcakes.com/

                1. darkmob Nov 30, 2006 10:05 PM

                  I've tried several cakes at Extraordinary Desserts, both chocolate and fruit kinds. I won't argue that the variety and flavor combos are definitely abundant, and the cakes are more than aesthetically pleasing (sometimes you just can't bring yourself to cut it). However, I do find their cakes to be much to rich. After about 3-4 forkfuls, I can't really eat anymore.

                  I grew up eating cakes that were made by Chinese bakeries where their cakes are sponge-like and whipped cream is usually used. This makes for a very, very light cake and thus quite easy to over indulge at times. However, I find their cakes tend to lack any flavor its suppose to have.

                  That's why I need to find a perfect balance between these too extremes. Has anyone else tried the cakes at Flour Power?

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: darkmob
                    DiningDiva Nov 30, 2006 10:28 PM

                    The Grove Bakery in Lemon Grove was the pioneer of whipped cream cakes with fruit filling in the San Diego area. And speaking from experience they are great :-D. Light but not too sweet with not lacking in flavor. I like the pastries at Twiggs too, but I think The Grove is better.

                    No one has mentioned Just Fabulous yet and their cakes really are. I had one called Sunset Somethingorother a few weeks ago that was decadent without being heavy and overpowering.

                    1. re: DiningDiva
                      darkmob Nov 30, 2006 10:54 PM

                      I was thinking about Just Fabulous as a place I'll visit with my friends for a pre/post-party sweet stop.

                      I've heard a little bit about a new place called Heaven Sent Dessert. Any comments on this place? Has anyone tried it?

                      1. re: darkmob
                        Alice Q Dec 1, 2006 01:55 AM

                        I have tried Extraordinary Desserts, Twiggs, Just Fabulous, French Gourmet, Michele Coulon, and Heaven Sent. I have also been to the Grove Pastry shop, but haven't tried one of their cakes. (I assume they taste better, but they kind of look like what you get at the grocery store.)

                        I do not recommend Just Fabulous (at least from what I have ordered in their restaurant) or Heaven Sent.

                        I tried to order a whole cake from Just Fabulous once when we used to live in the neighborhood, and they told me I had to go to their bakery on Alvarado Road to pick it up. Seems like they could have delivered it to the restaurant along with all of the other goods, but they wouldn't for some reason.

                        Heaven Sent uses shortening in their frostings - which does not melt at body temperature, hence the greasy heavy feeling they have. I also don't like their flavors, and found a few items to be stale when we visited.

                        I like Extraordinary Desserts, but I don't think their style is very refined. European pastry does not have to be heavy as a brick, as their cakes often are. Then again, their cakes are made with high quality ingredients and have great flavor. I like the chocolate mousse cake, and the passionfruit or lemon ricotta cakes.

                        Michele Coulon Dessertier is very good. If you order ahead they will make the cake fresh for you. They have an extensive menu of whole cakes to order from. They're famous for something called the "Torte Belge" which has chocolate cake, ganache and chocolate meringue layers.

                        I ordered cakes from Twiggs a couple of years ago for my husband's birthday, and they were dry. Our wedding cake came from French Gourmet (because they included it with our catering), and it was good. Their stuff is not as refined as Extraordinary Desserts or Michele Coulon - but I think they are quite a bit less expensive. They also do specialty shaped cakes, like Just Fabulous.

                        www.aliceqfoodie.com

                        1. re: Alice Q
                          DiningDiva Dec 1, 2006 04:28 AM

                          I'm pretty sure that The Grove Bakery would not have stayed in business for 50+ years by selling grocery store quality products. Like many things in life, looks can be deceiving ;-}

                        2. re: darkmob
                          DiningDiva Dec 1, 2006 04:25 AM

                          Heaven Sent is very expensive for what you get and what I got when I went wasn't that good.

                          To their credit, though, after they got thoroughly trashed by Naomi Wise in the SDReader and a few others for using shortening, they've been consulting with an excellent and well regarded pastry chef who also happens to be the primary pastry instructor at AIA in Mission Valley. I understand that many of their products have been reformulated.

                          I would really like to see them succeed because this is a venture by non-food people that grew out of a dream one of the owners had when he was serving in the military. Heaven Scent actively supports the troops in Iraq with care packages and for that alone i give them great credit and kudos.

                          1. re: DiningDiva
                            Alice Q Dec 2, 2006 02:43 AM

                            I would really like to see them succeed too - they have a great location and we could definitely use another "dessert destination" in SD, but what they were doing before just wasn't cutting it.

                          2. re: darkmob
                            Josh Dec 1, 2006 06:52 PM

                            Heaven Sent isn't. 'Nuff said.

                        3. re: darkmob
                          honkman Nov 30, 2006 10:41 PM

                          I know it is personal preferences but this richness is what I like at ED. These cakes are good to share because you only eat small amounts but you have very intense, good flavors which I haven't found anywhere else in SD.

                        4. stevuchan Nov 30, 2006 10:47 PM

                          The French Gourmet in PB makes a good cake. There is a proper name, I call it ding dong cake, Chocolate with hazelnut cream is my favorite, they also have a rasberry filling that was excessively seedy for my taste. Give them a try, they also have good pate, Duck, Pork, and Chicken Liver. Inch thick slice will run you about 3 bucks, and the best dijon mustard from France at 2.50 a jar, it's quite a bargain.

                          Cheers

                          1. k
                            kaholo1 Nov 30, 2006 10:58 PM

                            yep Extrodinary desserts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            1. f
                              FrogPrincesse Dec 5, 2006 04:40 PM

                              I agree with Alice Q's review of Extraordinary Desserts. Although the quality and the ingredients are excellent, and the presentation very pleasing, the cakes are not especially delicate. My favorite is the Moroccan cake because of the flavor combination and crunchy texture (chocolate/pistachio/honey) but overall I prefer lighter cakes, such as the ones from Champagne bakery in Del Mar. Unfortunately, I've noticed that the selection at Champagne has been shrinking overtime and they no longer offer the Grand Marnier chocolate cake or the mango-coconut mousse that I used to get all the time. Their princess cake is also very good (it’s a chocolate/nougatine cake) but last time I've ordered it, I found the presentation a bit sloppy. I will have to try Michele Coulon based on all the recommendations here.

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