Brokelyn Classics

Happy birthday, Brokelyn!


Photo by Stefan Tonio
Photo by Stefan Tonio

Yup, today’s our birthday: our very first one! We’re planning a big party next month, but meanwhile, to mark the occasion, we thought we’d revisit a fitting Brokelyn classic, Are supermarket cakes any good?

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


  1. I still like my Lopez bakery on Fifth Avenue and 19th (?). Not $5.99, but not super expensive.

    Some people swear by Costco’s cake. They aren’t so hot in my opinion but I have never turned down a piece!

  2. hannah

    pepperidge farm frozen layer cakes! they are the best, and i think even cheaper than above. the yellow cake with chocolate frosting is especially good.

  3. There is a happy medium in some neighborhoods– the old, untrendy bakeries like Circo’s in Bushwick or any number of Mexican bakeries. Bakery cakes don’t all cost $48, but even coming from the least attractive hole-in-the-wall bakery they’ll be freshly baked and a whole different species from the supermarket ones. Take a closer look around the neighborhood. (At Circo’s by the way you can order one filled with cannoli cream instead of frosting.)

  4. Where i grew up, we have a grocery chain called Shaw’s. My best friend loves their cake so much, she is having them make her wedding cake. Yeah, it’s that good.

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