When I started planning my wedding, my friend Kim told me one of things I absolutely had to do was do a bunch of cake tastings. It was free and it seemed like a pain-free, but delicious way to get the ball rolling for the June deadline. I think she knew me all too well because despite setting a date, thinking about people to invite and asking a friend to be the officiant at the ceremony, I have done absolutely nothing.
A mere thumb-through bridal magazines makes me physically ill. The suggestion that I need to choose a centerpiece, gifts for attendants and favors seem like a bit much, especially for the nontraditional person I am. But the one thing I absolutely had to have was a great-tasting cake.
Doing an internet search for local bakeries specializing in wedding cakes brings a plethora of results. Most bakeries offer tastings Monday thru Saturday, some I suspect on a walk-in basis. Others offer appointment-only tastings with a choice of cakes available for tastings. One of the first bakeries I emailed responded within a day — Sumi’s Oven.
I made an appointment to meet at the Starbucks in Pacific Beach. The last time I was in Pacific Beach, there was only one Starbucks. Now there are three and we were the wrong one. But Sumi was cordial, apologized and met me at my location — thank god she had my cell phone number or I would have been cakeless that day.
It was easy to identify Sumi once she arrived at Starbucks: she was the woman carrying a pink pastry box with my name on the top.
Sumi is a petite woman and explained how long she’s been baking cakes. Her cake portfolio was impressive, although nothing in the Ace of Cakes category that Paul was hoping. Instead, they were (mostly) very traditional-looking cakes.
She asked some very basic questions. “What is the theme of the wedding?” “None.” “How many people?” “Approximately 50.” “Where will the reception be held?” “Nothing has been reserved yet.” Sumi was funny and she did laugh at some of our jokes about making a cake out of Ho-Ho’s. We felt at ease with her.
I would be lying that during this entire time I wasn’t eyeing the pink box waiting to chow down some cake. But after we went over her portfolio, the fun began. Inside the box were six slices of the cake flavors I had requested, each with their individual flags identifying the flavor. There were also samples of her buttercream frosting and fondant she shaped into a heart.
Throughout the cake tasting, I discovered that Sumi is the sole person who creates the cakes. She has no bakery storefront but instead a rented commercial bakery in Santee. Cakes are made a day in advance and decorated the day of the event. Prices depend on number of people to be served, cake design and the use of fondant versus buttercream. You can read more about Sumi, here.
As for the cakes, each was delicious. Our favorites were the red velvet, marble cake and tiramisu. Least favorites were the chocolate almond and strawberry cake. Only thing that I could find fault with was the excessive whipped topping on each cake sample. Although pretty, I felt like I had to eat around it or remove it completely to get a true taste of the cake.
Sumi warned me that June is a busy time for weddings but we could book as late as March to assure a reservation. The challenge is to try to fit in as many cake tastings as possible between now and March — a challenge I eagerly look forward to.