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best birthday cake

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I'm having an 8th birthday party for my lil' guy . The guests will be kids AND their parents (several of whom are foodies). I'm in the SFV and have done the always- reliable Hansen's thing for the last several years. I'm looking to branch out, but am frightened.
Biggest fears;
too sugary sweet (cake,frosting or both) - we're not SusieCakes people
grainy or lardish buttercream
dry/cardboard-ish cake

I'm lucky in that my kid doesn't like his desserts too sweet, however I do need a superhero motif.

Any recs, please?

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  1. i'm sure you can find someting that will work for you in one of these threads:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/480778
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/576555
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/75545
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/377803
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/453333

    1. Don't worry, no one really notices the cake at a kids party.
      Parents(foodies or not) & especially kids.

      1. Jamaica's Cakes! You will not be sorry. Their cakes are not too sweet at all -- in fact, James the co-owner, made it at a point to stress that to me when I ordered for a birthday cake for my 9 year old niece. They did a fantastic job and to this day, the adults at that party still rave about that cake.

        I am attaching a photo of the Ugly Doll cake they made for my niece. The execution was flawless. I'm sure they'll be able to accommodate your superhero requirement.

        Take a peek at their delicious cake flavors by hitting the "Build your own" button at the bottom.

        http://jamaicascakes.com/

         
        4 Replies
        1. re: sharkgirl88

          Let me preface my post by saying that we've had close to 10 cakes from Jamaica's Cakes for Birthday occassions and the like.

          However, two weeks ago, we ordered a red velvet cake to celebrate my son's first Bday.

          I can't tell you how disappointed we were with the cake and we paid a lot for it.

          The cake itself was as dry as sand; to me that's a sin in the bakery world.

          The design was good as was the cream cheese frosting, but the dry cake killed it overall.

          Like I said, we've enjoyed many cakes in the past, but now I'm hesitant to go back.

          1. re: vinosnob

            Sorry to hear about your sandy red velvet. I usually go to Angel Maid for our family's birthday cake needs but gave Jamaica Cakes a whirl last month and enjoyed it very much. While I like all things related to cake - as long as it meets my minimal criteria - my daughter and wife were critical of the fondant. Not that it was bad, but they prefer frosting. Guess who cleaned up on their unwanted fondant? I hope you have better luck next time.

            1. re: vinosnob

              Vinosnob - you should call and talk to the manager in a friendly way and just let him/her know. Maybe they will offer you a replacement cake or a discount off something to "make it right." Tell them you've been a faithful customer and very pleased up til now - maybe the baker just forgot something or accidently doubled something in the recipe. If they have red velvet cupcakes, ask to buy one and sample it. If it is good, then maybe that cake was just wrong. If it takes as crummy, let them know - maybe they don't realize they've got a problem!

              Hey, it happened to me tonight with a recipe I made for the third time in a month - I forgot the baking soda! Amazing what a difference a half teaspoon of baking soda makes . . . Instead of pop-over-the-top muffins, these didn't rise at all - but still edible, just a little dense. Like me, I guess!

            2. re: sharkgirl88

              Thank you for posting this! I was looking for an LA bakery that would create an Ugly Doll cake and came across your post and picture. We stopped by Jamaica's Cakes, with Ugly Doll in hand and Jamaica created what has turned out to be the best birthday cake EVER! So delicious and really cute! Thank you!!!

              -----
              Jamaica's Cakes
              11511 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

               
            3. Thank you all sooo much! Loved the threads. I think I'll end up in Jamaica. Their cakes look really beautiful and the not-too-sweet verification made the difference.........

              1. Porto's

                1. Sweet Lady Jane...the triple berry cake is divine. And not overly sweet, either. Just moist, fluffy, and delicious.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: junipersong

                    Aside for their service-related issues that are infamous on this board, many have complained about the triple-berry cake tasting stale or even "chemical-like." I have a strong suspicion that the storefront is recycling their frozen returns from Gelson's (I think they no longer carry SLJ's frozen cakes) and Ralph's (who is now reported to carry SLJ's frozen cakes). Just a heads-up for those taking a shot at this or any other cake that is sold both as frozen as well as in the storefront's case.

                    Another alternative is Lido in Manhattan Beach. Thanks to poster Norm Man, I gave them a try a couple of weeks ago. Norm Man says that the folks at Lido used to work for ages at SLJ, and decided to branch out on their own. They brought their skills over to Manhattan Beach to open Lido. As promised, they do things a lot like SLJ but with a sweet disposition as well. I tried their Italian rum wedding cake as well as their carrot cake. Dense with flavor, rich and beautiful to look at. I didn't have a chance to try their version of the triple berry but based on what I had, I am guessing it's a winner.

                    -----
                    Lido Bakery
                    3001 N Sepulveda Blvd, D Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      I love Lido! I get all my Birthday cakes there. Everyone is always so nice in the shop, and everything we've ever bought has been a hit.

                      1. re: rachel12

                        I was pretty impressed by their goods. The case with the cookies, little pastries, etc., had me smiling a lot of the next day. The cakes were embellished with nice colors - deeper than I'm used to - but with enough restraint in quantity to balance it out. The size of the cake slices was pretty hefty as well - easily enough for two generous servings. They're definitely worth future return visits.

                  2. I am partial to the Chocolate Parisian at Viktor Benes' but that might be too sweet... why not let him taste it? They will definitely help with decoration... they do a really cute burger cake too :)

                    One of my friends grew up in Woodland Hills and loved Plusco's vanilla cake with a chocolate chip custard filling, and he's not a huge sweets person. They cooperate too with decorations.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Emme

                      I'm in Calabasas and am not familiar with Pluscos. Where is it?

                      1. re: candee

                        Plusko's Bakery is at 21013 Sherman Way. 818-348-2880. I haven't had one of their cakes in years. I think they use mainly whipped cream.

                        1. re: Kate is always hungry

                          I like Hansens -- getting my bday cake from here. White cake w butter-chip filling and white butter-cream frosting. Basically a choc chip bday cake -- yum!

                        2. re: candee

                          http://www.pluskosbakery.com/
                          http://www.merchantcircle.com/busines...

                      2. In a word: HANSENS

                        $23 for a 1/4 sheet. You will pay extra for elaborate decorations.

                        Get the buttercream frosting only- you will not be sorry.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: yummyinmytummy

                          9inch round cake $30
                          10 inch round $43

                          Like yummy said, fancy decorations extra. They'll do the superhero motif. You get design and yummy cake -- usually it's a trade-off.

                        2. AVOID HANSENS AT ALL COSTS!!!

                          It really saddens me to write this as 3 generations of my family have bought cakes there and I have been a customer personally for over 20 years. The last 3 cake orders I have placed at Hansen’s have all been incorrect. The first time they gave me a chocolate cake with chocolate filling, when I ordered a white cake with buttercream filling. The second time, they not only spelled my daughter’s name incorrectly but they misspelled birthday! “Brthda” is how it was written on the cake. And most recently, they again gave me a different cake then what I ordered. Even after all of these errors, I would still have continued to buy birthday cakes at Hansens because of the personal nostalgia. However, their customer service is completely non-existent. The service (actually, you cannot call it service – let’s call it the experience) I had at Hansen’s made a trip to Sweet Lady Jane seem like the happiest place on earth. The manager at Hansen’s took zero responsibility for the store’s errors. Instead, she made me wrong by telling me that it was my fault. Not only that, she screamed at me for calling the corporate office and requesting that I be refunded. Apparently, the corporate office has no control over their stores, as I was told that “it doesn’t matter what corporate says!” And then she has the nerve to tell me that I am no longer a welcomed customer and that she doesn’t want to see me again in her store!!! I have never been treated this way in my life and I will never return to Hansen’s and neither will any of my friends. My family has enjoyed over 50 years of Hansen’s cakes and it is so unfortunate that this had to occur. Hansen’s Cakes needs has clearly forgotten how to accurately duplicate a cake order and how to treat a paying customer with some decency. I am still shocked, appalled and deeply saddened. Goodbye, Hansens.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: shoegal

                            that is terrible shoegal. maybe the manager was a graduate of sweet lady jane's school of customer service ; ) anyway, there are plenty of places that would love your business. For example Susina comes to mind. really nice people and both the berry blossom and their chocolate cake are terrific.

                            1. re: shoegal

                              Hi Shoegal,

                              Cakes should only make you happy. I'm sorry you had such a bad cake experience. As a cake decorating hobbyist, I take cakes seriously. Hansen's abominable treatment was inexcusable. That said, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In this instance, when the Hansen's gives you a cake wreck, look at it as an opportunity to become a guest Wreckporter!

                              If you took pictures of the misspelled cake, I'm sure Cakewrecks.com would love to have a picture of it. If you're not familiar with Cakewrecks, check it out. It's great for a laugh. Professionally decorated cakes gone horribly wrong or bad. Better luck with your next cake.

                              Katie

                              1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                That's great! I did happen to take pics for proof of the disasters. They actually called me liar! Why would I lie about my son being allergic to chocolate? (Which is the reason I know I would never order a chocolate cake... even though they insist that I did) Anyways, I will most definitely check out cakewrecks.com. I have three cakes to add to their collection.

                                Condiment-- the cake at Phoenix sounds great. Unfortunately, I recently moved from Brentwood to Westlake Village and don't get out to that area often. However, next time I am in Chinatown I will certainly check it out.

                              2. re: shoegal

                                Hansen's cakes are now so sweet that they make my teeth hurt. I took one bite today and spit it out. It was too sweet.

                              3. The fresh-strawberry whipped-cream cake at Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown is the ne plus ultra of birthday cakes. It is scarcely a birthday without one.

                                1. VALERIE CONFECTIONS in Los Angeles would be my best recommendation. The adults will surely appreciate it. The other recommendation (if you like chocolate cake) is Juniors Blackout pudding cake in West LA. I have had Porto's and Phoenix too, both good suggestions.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: tkkordic

                                    TKKORDIC - which cake did you try at valerie? thanks in advance.

                                    1. re: namstermonster

                                      I have had the blums coffee crunch, , the rose petal cake, and then one that was not on the menu, but was like the rose petal, but lemon ganache/truffle instead.... All AMAZING. If you like coffee/mocha things, then the coffee crunch cake is the way to go (and I am not even really into coffee). The rose petal and lemon were the same style square multiple-layered cake w/ ganache style frosting(versus the circle double-layer crunch cake w/ more of a whipping cream frosting). My favorite was the rose petal, but all were HUGE hits at each party. A little goes a long way, b/c they are SOOOOO indulgent. I literally cut slivers sometimes. The big tip I would give you, is let the cake sit our for several hours (or over night) before serving so it is temperate (only the square cakes). It makes cutting the cake easier, but it also allows all the flavors to mesh together (there is a lot of chocolate, so you want it at room temperature always)

                                      1. re: tkkordic

                                        tkkordic!! u said a little goes a long way for the rose petal cake...do you think it could be stretched to feed 14-15?

                                        1. re: namstermonster

                                          Yes, I do... you will not be disappointed. You have to order in advance. They working on having cakes available daily, but for now, you will do an advanced order (48 hours). They have great service and will give you great suggestions.

                                  2. I am super picky with cake... and like you don't like things that are dry, super-sweet, or buttercreamy. Angel Maid is the best bakery I have found (although it is on the Westside) because their cakes are extremely light and they tend to use fresh whipped cream for their frosting (I really don't like the coat the roof of your mouth buttercream so this is so much better). Also, their cakes are sweetened perfectly! Oops, I just realized this post is super old and you probably already got your b-day cake.. but it never hurts to be in the know!

                                    www.wisepix.com

                                    1. I strongly echo the recommendation for Jamaica Cakes. My lovely boyfriend surprised me with this wonderful chocolate cake with their signature cream frosting. It was not to sweet and perfectly delicious, and they did an AMAZING job with the cake art! It's the best birthday cake I've ever received.

                                       
                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: maiweezy

                                        Under a lobster's carapace hides a ravenous - Corgi? :)