Nothing honors a birthday quite like a layer cake, decorated with flair and glowing with the requisite number of candles. But at a real Park Slope bakery, a custom-ordered 7” frosted layer cake, which serves 10-12, starts at about $48. While baking one from scratch is probably the best substitute, what about the kind from ye olde supermarket aisle? We prowled four of Brooklyn’s majors—ShopRite, Key Food, The Met and Associated—to find out. Our tasting panel consisted of of five adults and three children, because let’s be real, if a five-year old turns away a piece of cake after the first bite, we’ve got problems.
Overall the quality of the cakes was very poor. “Dry,” “chemical,” “freezer burned” are a few of the of the immediate reactions. Almost all of the cakes (excluding the winner) traveled a long distance to get to Brooklyn as they were made by a bakery facility in Wisconsin that distrubutes products worldwide. So while we sampled four cakes from four stores, at the end of the day, we really we only tasted two distinct products.
The winner: ShopRite, aka “Elijah” ($5.99): Chocolate “Devils’ Food Cake with Chocolate Icing. The cake was moist, with a good crumb. Creamy, sweet frosting with good chocolate flavor. What a chocolate cake should be. We shared it with the neighbors who later shouted from over the fence that it was “delicious.” McDonald Avenue & Avenue I, 718-252-5770.
The runner up: Key Food, aka “Emma” ($9.99): Yellow Cake with White Icing. Visually appealing, decorated with pretty pink icing flowers. The cake was tender and had a pleasant flavor. However, the icing had chemically base note. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream it would probably do just fine at any party. 369 Flatbush Ave., 718-789-3007
Associated, aka “Grace” ($8.99): Yellow Cake with White Icing and mulit-colored decorative Sugar “Confetti.” One word: awful. The icing was stiff and barely adheared to the cake. The cake seemed stale and freezer burned. 216 Fifth Ave., 718-789-4499
The Met, aka “Cody” ($8.99): Cookies and Cream, which was basically a dark chocolate cake with white icing and an Oreo cookie decorative garnish. Visually it had a lot going for it but in the words of our 5-year-old taster, it tasted like “dog poop with cockroaches.” 632 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-783-1887