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birthday cake search

i'm looking for a birthday cake...

background:
birthday boy is turning ONE--1st son of the oldest son, so according to tradition, it is super important... i think it is up there with the red egg thingie. there will be a whole roasted pig and the other traditional ceremonial things too

my personal preference: moist cake, NO soggy syrup soaked cakes. buttercream or creamcheese or maybe italian merengue (sp?). no fondant. hand piped design and borders, no need for sugar work.

my family and i are from the south, and grew up with uber sweet and rich desserts, but majority of our guests are not sugar addicts (i think a few are diabetics, oops! too bad for them, i guess?). so have to find a cake that caters too both. so basically European cake (moist cake with a rich slightly sweet frosting) for my family, but asian-esque cake (light, not overly sweet, maybe fruit filled-strawberries?) for the guests...

expecting app. 100 guests, aiming for a $300 and under, 2-3 layered, maybe tiered (depending on design....). live in berkeley, will drive as far as s. sf/richmond bridge,milipitas, walnut creek to taste/order/pickup. i have a month to search for the cake.... thanks in advance for all suggestions!

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  1. There are several bakeries in Oakland Chinatown that will make the cakes with whipped cream frosting and fresh fruit (usually strawberries or bananas, or both) filling. Here's a thread from someone who did a taste test of several:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/503359

    In my experience these are a big hit with everyone, Asian or not.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      i was kinda hoping for a more european cake--since we do live near two chinatowns, i think some of us are tired of the asian sponge cake with whipped cream. don't get me wrong, they're yummy... but i miss my frostings, plus we had a big full sheet cake for baby's baptismal celebration already, wanted to try a different cake this time around... any suggestions?

    2. I think you could do great at Masse's. They made a fabulous modern looking 1 year old birthday cake for me. You might really like the mango or passionfruit flavors.

      3 Replies
        1. re: SumoSizeMe

          Masse's -- they are very good!

          -----
          Masse's Pastries
          1469 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

          1. re: SumoSizeMe

            Masse is a tiny place next to Black Oak Books on Shattuck just north of Vine, North Berkeley.

            Some spectacularly beautiful, whipped cream-ish frosting (but with plenty of sugar and heft), colorful candied fruit, great tasting, rather expensive but worth it, cakes. They've got many big things on display and some good small snack-like objects if you want to try them out first.

        2. I really like the cakes at Sweet Adeline's in Oakland (near Berkeley border) at Adeline between 62nd and 63rd and think you can find the type described. Nice neighborhood spot for all kinds of desserts/baked goods.

          1. Hmmm ... I guess I'm not getting what you really want ... frosting but not butter cream?

            The only thing I can think of ... and keep in mind this was only a cupcake I tried ... is Fat Angel across the bridge in Marin. They had a really unusual homey frosting that wasn't overly sweet and a rich buttery cake. They do cakes as well, but don't know how they are.

            Back to the East Bay ...

            You could check out It's All Good bakery on Martin Luther King. It is near Sweet Adeline. They make Southern-style cakes ... red velvet, 7-up, coconut. The cake is light and the frosting is that less sweet soul-food type of deal. In that category I think they are the best I've had in the Bay Area. Prices are good too.

            While this violates some of what you are asking for, I just had THE best cake sample at Virginia Bakery. I really am LOOKING for a dinner with friends where I can bring dessert because I was so impressed. It will definatley be my next cake where I bring a cake.

            It also has elements I usually hate. It is a light type of chocolate cake with a light frosting and a thick custard filling. Unfortunately I can't remember the name, but if you are interested I'll give the bakery a call. It had something like paradise, perfect, dream or something like that in the name.

            Speaking of which, there's always that Dream of Cream cake at Neldham's in Oakland ... light chocolate cake with lots of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rworange

              Doesn't the Virginia bakery use Crisco in the frosting? Or maybe they've changed or added something new. I've always hated their cakes. I like the eclairs, though.

              1. re: Glencora

                I am not a fan of Virgina Bakerie's regular cakes ... or for that matter Neldams. They taste too much like supermarket cake. Both do use butter in the buttercream frosting. However, it is like most of the cupcake places that have sprung up that you can't actually taste the butter in it.

                I got into a long, drawn out discussion many, many years ago when I asked Neldams if they made butter cream frosting. They said all their cakes with frosting were buttercream. I refused to believe it and it went on and on until the baker came out and swore it was butter in their frosting. To tell you the truth, until all these cupcake places started to open, I still refused to believe it. Anyway, that's not the kind of buttercream that does anything for me.

                That is why I was so surprised I liked this sample so much. I am also not into thick custard which so many Italian rum cakes use ... mainly because I don't like the liquor-taste in it. This is similar to that type of custard, but no alcohol. The whole just worked so well. All the elements just complemented each other.

                Virgina does certain things well. They have a great Irish soda bread. The hot cross buns are good. They do swell, holiday decorations as in cookies and cupcakes. Some of the fancier cupcakes, not the regulars, are pretty good. They once had a green frog cupcake similar to one I liked long ago with a nice marizpan 'skin', covering whipped cream and a light cake.

                I'm glad they have been generous on the samples lately. It gives a chance to discover some finds without the cost or using up major calories.

                1. re: rworange

                  oops, i may have typed my preferences incorrectly...
                  yes to buttercream, or creamcheese, or italian merengue...
                  no fondant, no sugar work, no gum paste, no whipped cream "frosting".
                  in other words, no more up scale twinkies... i want real, honest, cavity causing, sugar coma inducing cake... thank you very much! =)

            2. You might try Sugar Bowl Bakery. My wedding cake came from them and we went with them specifically because they were somewhere between a European cake (buttercream, not sponge cake) and asian cake (light, not too sweet). We chose a stramberry ganache cake that had fresh strawberrys and rich chocolate inside. They can do whatever design you like, and probably a tasting too - at least they did it for our very small wedding cake.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Pandora

                wow. i know they have cookies and other baked goods, but didn't know they did special order cakes. where are they located? i've never done a wedding, so how does a tasting work? what's the pricing for a tasting? cake?

                1. re: SumoSizeMe

                  This was about four years ago, but we went to their big corporate bakery in SF - not even sure what neighborhood, bayview maybe? It was definitely not romantic or anything. They were really professional and very nice though, and I don't think we paid for the tasting. I think we may have been given a choice of flavors and they baked up those beforehand, but can't remember for sure. We had a three tiered cake which I think was supposed to serve 150 people, and was about $200 or so. We chose a simpler design (no fondant) to keep costs down. It was markedly less expensive than a lot of the other bakeries we looked at. I liked them because they have a refrigerated van for delivery (I had terrible visions of the cake of my dreams melting in a van as it made its way to the wedding site in some kind of freak heat wave).

                  Anyways, they aren't the most exciting option, but we had a chinese banquet and wanted something reliable, tasty, but not too rich.

                  More info on their special order cakes is on the website, so you can call for the latest policies.

                  http://www.sugarbowlbakery.com/index....

                  1. re: Pandora

                    thanks for all your help. i have a less than two months to get this done!