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Where can I find a bridal shower cake in Northern VA area?

eviemichael Jan 24, 2011 02:48 PM

Hi all. I wish I could make it myself but I won't have any time- so where can I find a beautifully decorated, tasty tiered cake for a big bridal shower bash in Northern VA?

A friend is ordering some things from the whole foods bakery, are their cakes good enough? or should i definitely go with a specialty place?

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  1. j
    Just Visiting RE: eviemichael Jan 24, 2011 03:08 PM

    I find the cakes at Whole Foods to be odd/bad. I can't quite describe it, but the icing is oily/thick and has an off flavor and the cake itself has a very large crumb and an odd texture. There are a number of very good bakeries in Northern Virginia. You don't say where in NOVA (big area) but there is a place in Sterling called Chantel's that is supposedly very good with good prices.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Just Visiting
      eviemichael RE: Just Visiting Jan 24, 2011 03:14 PM

      Well it will be near Falls Church, but cake places deliver don't they?
      Thanks for the tip re: Chantel's.

      1. re: Just Visiting
        woodleyparkhound RE: Just Visiting Jan 24, 2011 07:28 PM

        I've been very disappointed in WF cakes. I agree with Just Visiting. You can do better!

      2. j
        Jeserf RE: eviemichael Jan 24, 2011 04:20 PM

        Getting my wedding cake from Fluffy Thoughts and the tasting - and customer service - was AMAZING. I cannot WAIT to eat it in just under 8 weeks - I am SO excited.

        http://www.fluffythoughts.com/

        I love them and can't recommend them enough - the flavors were great.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jeserf
          eviemichael RE: Jeserf Jan 24, 2011 11:33 PM

          I just went on the Fluffy Thoughts site and it looks perfect! Thanks so much everyone. :) I won't go with WF cake. :)

          1. re: eviemichael
            i
            Indy 67 RE: eviemichael Jan 25, 2011 02:01 AM

            +1 for Fluffy Thoughts based on their cupcakes.

            1. re: Indy 67
              eviemichael RE: Indy 67 Jan 25, 2011 02:17 AM

              I just looked up reviews and some say their cake is dry...but you both have better experiences than this? I really want it to be scrumptious. I am thinking their signature white cake layered with alternating chocolate buttercream, raspberry filling and covered in white chocolate buttercream.

              1. re: eviemichael
                j
                Jeserf RE: eviemichael Jan 25, 2011 03:30 AM

                the cake I tasted at the tasting was wonderful. Also, I think wedding cake is dry when it has fondant on it - mine will not - since fondant seems to pull the moisture out as it sits.

                I'm not expert on baking, but my cake tasting was the single best part of wedding planning and I've LOVED working with them. I'm sworn off most sweets until the wedding (once in a while I have a bite) but told my fiance that when we go drop off the cake topper, I'm having a cupcake because I can't wait until the wedding :)

                I could have gotten an entire cake with the candy crunch and caramel...for what it's worth

        2. h
          hppyheather RE: eviemichael Jan 25, 2011 04:14 AM

          Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe also does absolutely wonderful cakes (though a bit pricey). I would agree with the folks who have steered you away from Whole Foods cakes - one of the few things that WF does not do well!

          -----
          Heidelberg Pastry Shop
          2150 N Culpeper St, Arlington, VA

          1. Dennis S RE: eviemichael Jan 25, 2011 04:45 AM

            Amphora bakery - the one in Herndon is a delight, though it's in an industrial park.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Dennis S
              i
              Indy 67 RE: Dennis S Jan 25, 2011 05:20 AM

              This is one of those times when a board like this or like Trip Advisor for hotels is problematic. Sometimes there's simply no consensus. You've already heard both good and bad things about Fluffy Thoughts. I -- and posters on similar threads -- have nothing nice to say about Amphora's baked goods. To be fair, my experience is with the original Vienna branch rather than Dennis' recommended Herndon branch, and I don't know if Amphora bakes all its products at a central location.

              Frankly, I think success often lies in clear communication. The last birthday of my mother's life, it was more convenient to have Balducci's cater and deliver everything even though I'm not crazy about their cakes. I ordered the Dolly Sin cake, but made it clear that I usually found the cake to be dry. I asked if there was anything they could do about this problem. They volunteered to bake the cake in the store kitchen rather than in the central kitchen and to enrich the standard recipe. (I think the tweak was extra pudding mix). The results were everything I hoped they would be: wonderfully moist and intensely flavored.

              I firmly believe that if you express your concerns, ask for the bakery's suggestions to deal with those, and generally communicate your interest in the best product, you'll get just that.

              1. re: Indy 67
                chowser RE: Indy 67 Jan 25, 2011 06:44 AM

                I wonder about quality control at some of these places because I've never had a great cake or baked goods from Amphora's (it's a go to place for my husband's family because of the price) yet I always hear it recommended here. And, most of the cakes are specially ordered, not off the shelf so should be fresh.

                I love Victoria's Cakery in Fairfax City--I do find their frosting a little too thick and sweet and usually don't eat it but love the cake itself. And, they don't do fancy decorating that I've seen but I haven't asked for anything more than a standard cake. I haven't heard of Fluffy Thoughts and should give them a try. I don't think most people are as picky about their baked goods as I am, though, and think that's what keeps most of these places in business.

                1. re: chowser
                  i
                  Indy 67 RE: chowser Jan 25, 2011 07:15 AM

                  I think that price drives a lot decisions. When Heidleberg Bakery first opened -- and I'm going back decades when it was located where Patries by Randolph now sits -- their products were unmatched. Even before the move to the stand-alone location, I noticed a decline. I'm convinced that the recipes began to use alternatives to pure butter that introduced an articial taste. I also recall that the fruit flavorings, especially, didn't have quite the same fresh, intense taste. I'm sure owner/baker knew the difference, but couldn't afford to keep the quality high at a price point most people were willing to pay. I remember still being satisfied with a lot of their homier products, but the baked goods I'd serve to company simply weren't in the same league.

                  I suspect that many bakeries go through this same process over time. Marvelous Market went the same route, exaggerated by the fact that it became a chain, centralized all it's baking, and wrapped all its bread in plastic wrap, a great way to kill a good crust. I've been hearing rumblings about Firehook's quality recently. I'm always on the lookout for a new bakery so I can patronize it while the commitment to excellence hasn't been worn down by the realities of running a business.

                  1. re: chowser
                    s
                    sweth RE: chowser Jan 25, 2011 09:58 AM

                    I've got no specific experience w/ any of the places in question here, but in general QC w/ bakeries is more of an issue than w/ other food vendors; baking is far more science than art, and so even a little bit of variation in the process can have a big impact on the final product.

                  2. re: Indy 67
                    Dennis S RE: Indy 67 Jan 25, 2011 07:25 AM

                    To be clear, I'm talking about the central bakery for Amphora, in Herndon. This is not the place you sit and eat at in Herndon; though they do have events there (which are great for kids b-day parties).

                    http://www.amphorabakery.com/occasion...

                    It's in a warehouse lot and is nothing to see from the outside, though the inside is pretty cool.

                    I also have yet to see anything in the diners that comes close to what they can produce for a party.

                    1. re: Dennis S
                      i
                      Indy 67 RE: Dennis S Jan 25, 2011 07:31 AM

                      Now that you've tweaked my memory, I'm talking about an Amphora that no longer exits. At one time, the company owned the diner that fronted Maple Avenue in Vienna along with a bakery that was in a small strip mall perpendicular to the diner. (I think the Amphora folks were also the developers of this strip mall.) I'm reasonably confident that the Amphora mini-empire also included a third store, a Greek grocery store, next door to the bakery. Chances are this Vienna bakery was the precursor to the central Herndon one you're talking about.

                2. ktmoomau RE: eviemichael Jan 25, 2011 07:30 AM

                  My go to is always Randolph Pattisserie in Arlington. I love their cakes. I also know that Bakeshop VA does cakes they are in Clarendon, their cupcakes are amazingly moist and delectable, I have them on my list for the next time I need a cake.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ktmoomau
                    j
                    jenniferpdc RE: ktmoomau Jan 25, 2011 09:09 AM

                    Whole Foods = bad bakery. It astounds me that people actually keep buying things from there. I second Randolph's and Heidleberg's....I've had both and they're quite good.

                  2. eviemichael RE: eviemichael Jan 25, 2011 09:10 AM

                    I appreciate everyone's input! After researching the suggestions here, I am narrowing it down between Fluffy Thoughts and Pastries by Randolph.
                    I loved one of the decorated scrollwork cakes on the Amphora website, but am scared by some bad experiences you all have had.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: eviemichael
                      l
                      lbstuart RE: eviemichael Jan 29, 2011 03:17 PM

                      I used Pastries by Randolph for my wedding cake. Yummy even defrosted a year later!

                    2. l
                      Lolac RE: eviemichael Jan 25, 2011 06:38 PM

                      I HIGHLY recommend "Occasionally Cake" in Alexandria. Their cakes are amazing! Beautiful to look at and wonderful to eat. They will custom make your cake to your specifications. You cannot go wrong here.
                      http://www.occasionallycake.com/Site/...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Lolac
                        eviemichael RE: Lolac Jan 26, 2011 12:10 AM

                        thanks i'll look into it!

                      2. Manassas64 RE: eviemichael Jan 30, 2011 04:05 AM

                        I am a cake baker and I was making a baby shower cake that went horribly wrong on a Sunday afternoon. Wegmans Bakery in Fairfax came to my rescue. Their Ultimate White Cake is fabulous. It was summer, so I got the fresh berry filling and whipped cream icing. The fresh berries were rolling all over the table as I was cutting into the cake.

                        As for Whole Foods, I was very lucky there. I needed a dairy free cake and they baked one special for me that day and it was very good (for a dairy free cake).

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Manassas64
                          eviemichael RE: Manassas64 Jan 30, 2011 06:45 AM

                          Good to know, thanks. Wegmans would probably be a lot less expensive than the other options.

                          Otherwise, Occasionally Cakes has a very good price- $4 per slice, rather than $5-7 at other places.
                          And their champagne buttercream sounds delectable!!

                          1. re: Manassas64
                            eviemichael RE: Manassas64 Jan 30, 2011 06:47 AM

                            Also, Manassas64, are there any tiered cakes at Wegmans?

                            1. re: eviemichael
                              j
                              Jeserf RE: eviemichael Jan 30, 2011 11:16 AM

                              I've never seen a tiered cake at Wegman, but every single baked good I've eaten from there has been yummy.
                              It would definitely be less expensive than a stand-alone bakery. If it's for a bridal shower, perhaps a non-tiered cake would be better so as to not seem like you're trying to replicate a wedding cake?
                              Wegmans also does beautiful cookie trays - I saw some at New Years displayed when we went and I wanted one even though we weren't having guests over.

                              1. re: Jeserf
                                eviemichael RE: Jeserf Jan 30, 2011 12:04 PM

                                Do you think they'd do a specialty decoration on top of the cake?

                                I need enough for 70 women, so maybe I'd have to get two.

                                1. re: eviemichael
                                  j
                                  Jeserf RE: eviemichael Jan 30, 2011 12:28 PM

                                  Not sure - talk to them - they can probably do what you want/need - I've only partaken in Weggie's cakes at office birthdays but they've always been good - they have info on their web site

                                  1. re: Jeserf
                                    eviemichael RE: Jeserf Jan 30, 2011 12:43 PM

                                    thanks for the info!

                              2. re: eviemichael
                                Manassas64 RE: eviemichael Feb 5, 2011 03:38 PM

                                I don't believe they do tiered cakes, but they do layers and shapes and decorations.

                                Here is the list of options on their website:

                                http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/sto...

                            2. l
                              lbstuart RE: eviemichael Jan 30, 2011 12:22 PM

                              Oddly if you are just looking for a really tasty, inexpensive sheet cake, go to Costco. They do some specialty toppings.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: lbstuart
                                eviemichael RE: lbstuart Jan 30, 2011 12:46 PM

                                Thanks! Im looking for something in between inexpensive and crazy splurge. I'll probably just go with Occasional Cakes. Thanks everyone!

                                1. re: eviemichael
                                  m
                                  mimitom RE: eviemichael Feb 1, 2011 06:31 PM

                                  No one will do a better job than fluffy thoughts. I have been using Lara since she baked out of her condo. She loves what she does and it shows in her design. The cake is beautiful and all the guests will talk about it forever. She has baked about 15 cakes for me and friends over the years for baby and bridal showers,kids bdays, etc and never disappointed. And they taste great! No I am not friends with her, just a paying customer. Also she is great with custom if u have a concept. She is the dc area cake boss but sweet:)

                                  1. re: mimitom
                                    eviemichael RE: mimitom Feb 1, 2011 07:05 PM

                                    I will keep that in mind. Thanks a lot for the advice! It' a lot more expensive, but if it's worth it, I will keep considering fluffy thoughts. :)

                              2. f
                                floriand RE: eviemichael Feb 19, 2012 08:50 AM

                                I would say most important for any bakery is how good or fresh the ingredients are. Make sure very important items like eggs are fresh and farm raised. Ask your bakery if the eggs are farm fresh free range or from Sysco, for the prices these places charge the eggs better not cost 99 cents a dozen.

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