There’s nothing more satisfying than sinking your teeth into the soft, sweet contours of a well-crafted cake. If you’re feeling bored of the usual cake suspects that show up at most birthday parties – ice cream cakes and grocery store sponge cakes laden with brightly coloured icing – read on. We explored some of Richmond’s best cake shops where pastry chefs are mixing up spectacular confections each day. Here’s what we found.
The MJ Cake at Saint Germain Bakery is a light almond confection beautifully decorated with white chocolate fondant flowers. Photos: Lauren Kramer
Saint Germain Bakery has had a presence in Richmond since 1986, with other locations throughout the Lower Mainland. Perhaps the most memorable moment for its executive pastry chef, Mickey Zhao, was when he became head pastry chef of Culinary Team Canada in 2008, adding this accomplishment to a slew of international awards.
We loved the MJ Cake (pictured above), a delicate almond confection that’s light on the tongue, delivering flavours of white chocolate and lots of eye candy with its white chocolate fondant flowers. Another popular choice is the chestnut cake (pictured below), where layers of sponge cake are interspersed with ground chestnut paste, topped with a whipped cream icing and decorated with toasted almonds, strawberries, kiwi and orange slices.
Saint Germain’s Chestnut cake consists of layers of delicate sponge interspersed with ground chestnut paste, topped with a whipped cream icing and decorated with toasted almonds, strawberries, kiwi and orange slices. Photos: Lauren Kramer
My kids went nuts for the Tiramisu, for which Zhao and his team make their own lady fingers. It consisted of mascarpone cream, mixed with kahlua and amaretto liqueur and sells for $3.50 a slice.
“People are looking for healthier fare,” said Anne So, co-owner, as her culinary team bustled around her toasting almonds, coaxing sponge cakes out of their baking tins and decorating their confections with a careful hand. “As a result we’re going lighter, reducing our sugar by half in our cakes. It’s actually improved the taste as the natural flavours emerge more.”
Saint Germain has 16 different cakes that range from $22 and up. Special orders and custom decorating are available. Info: (604) 276-8378 or visit saintgermainbakery.com.
Location: Aberdeen Centre, 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
For Richmond’s best toasted coconut cake head to Steveston Vietnamese. Infused with coconut milk, this sweet treat is wrapped in a cream cheese and toasted coconut frosting. Photos: Lauren Kramer
Steveston Village Vietnamese Restaurant doesn’t specialize in cakes, but Justin Nguyen, its 29-year-old co-owner and chef, makes a fabulous toasted coconut cake that has folks talking – and sending in requests for special orders to take home.
“It’s something I conjured up three years ago,” he says with a modest shrug. Nguyen uses coconut milk to add subtle flavor in this two-level cake with cream cheese and toasted coconut frosting. The nut-free confection is moist, wonderfully rich and fluffy on the tongue. It sells for $4/slice or $35 for the whole cake.
Location: 12480 No 1 Rd, Richmond
Frozen yogurt is the calorie-friendlier version of ice cream and at Menchies you can customize your cake by selecting yogurt flavours, décor style, mixings, toppings and more. Photos: Lauren Kramer
If you love ice cream cake but can’t afford the calories, consider moving to frozen yogurt instead. Menchies’ in Blundell Centre offers an 8-inch frozen yogurt cake that’s fully customizable. Choose your base (oreo or graham crumbs), select two flavours for your two yogurt layers (from the selection available in the machines in store, or a choice of vanilla, chocolate or cake batter) and then choose a treat for the middle layer from 21 possibilities, including sprinkles, nuts and chocolate chips. Finally there’s the icing, the toppings you want (frosted animal cookies, anyone?) and the message you want inscribed. Suffice to say, no two cakes are ever quite the same. Menchies cakes ($29.99) come in one size only, serve up to 11 and require three days order-ahead time.
Location: Unit 135, 8100 No 2 Rd
In the Napoleon fresh cream cake from Anna’s Cake House, layers of vanilla butter sponge and puff pastry are alternated with fresh cream, strawberries and custard. Photos: Lauren Kramer
If you want a trip straight to heaven and back, try the Napoleon Fresh Cream Cake from Anna’s Cake House at Lansdowne Mall. With alternate layers of vanilla butter sponge cake and puff pastry, it contains fresh cream, strawberries and custard and is airy, light and delicious without being too sweet. It’s a great looking confection too, decorated with fresh cream, wedges of puff pastry dusted with icing sugar and strawberries.
The Napoleon is a favourite of Ron Cheung, Anna’s managing director. “I always recommend the Napoleon to those who love to have texture in their food,” he says. “You have combinations of crispy puff pastry and smooth, silky custard with the lovely textures of fresh fruit or roasted chestnuts.” A six-inch cake retails for $25.50 with larger sizes available.
Anna’s Cake House Fruit Mousse Cake has been a staple since the bakery opened 45 years ago. Its layers of mango, pineapple and coconut mousse can be switched for other fruits at customers’ request. Photos: Lauren Kramer
Mousse lovers will enjoy the Fruit Mousse Cake at Anna’s Cake House, a classic sponge cake with layers of mango, pineapple and coconut mousse iced with fresh cream. The recipe has been a popular choice since the store first opened in 1974 and it can be customized with lychee or other fruit flavours. “If you look and taste carefully, you can see and feel the pulp of the fruit that we blend into the mousse in-house,” Ron confides. “We’re not just mixing powdered fruit and food colouring!” A six-inch mousse costs $24.
Location: Lansdowne Centre, 5300 No 3 Rd, Richmond