Celebrating birthdays during a pandemic poses many challenges — the most prominent being the ongoing ban on large social gatherings, a health and safety imperative meant to quell the spread of the coronavirus. So while extended out-of-house family and friend groups can’t see each other safely much right now, the heavy lifting of having a happy birthday falls to the second most important part of the party: cake.
Simply put, if your birthday is happening during the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t skip birthday cake. Layers and layers of gorgeous sponge cake or ice cream, icing, fruit, and sugar immediately evoke a smile, and good feeling all-around.
Making one at home for a loved one is a respectable choice, but small business bakeries throughout Southern California are also at the ready, eager to whip up something special as they work to stay afloat during uncertain economic times. Better still: No dishes at home, and very little clean up. Just insert a set of candles and call it a day.
Below are nine places to nab a birthday cake around Los Angeles right now, either for yourself or a loved one in your home.
Hansen’s Cakes buttercream cake
Hansen’s does everything and anything to make their cakes appeal to the masses, from a reimagined frosting face with a faux mask on to an actual printed photograph as icing. Whatever the choice from this 80-year-old mainstay, opt for the traditional buttercream for an outstanding cake.
The Lark Cake Shop’s lemon key lime cake
The Lark Cake Shop crew’s incredible key lime cake is the combination of experimentation and solid ingredients. They took a standard lemon cake and turned it up to eleven by combining it with cream cheese icing and key lime. If this is too much, opt for one of their quality cupcakes.
Phoenix Bakery’s strawberry whipped cream cake
Traveling to one of LA’s most beloved bake shops is an exercise in two good deeds. The first is to breathe necessary economic life into the quiet streets of Chinatown. The second is to visit Phoenix Bakery to pickup a fresh strawberry whipped cream cake. It’s a simple and compact option over the popular strawberry cake encrusted with almonds, and equally satisfying.
Porto’s mango mousse cake
As one of the most consistent and longstanding stops to pickup a last-minute birthday cake, Porto’s Bakery always comes through. The mango mousse cake is a house specialty, with layers of sponge cake, plus a sticky, fruity sweetness throughout.
Republique’s raspberry passion fruit cream pie
A pass next to the display case at Republique typically stops most in their tracks. If able to practice restraint, buy the raspberry passion fruit cream pie. It’s a non-traditional option for a birthday, sure, but with layers of every aforementioned ingredient, this dessert is a masterful lesson in balancing sweetness with full flavors, and a joy to cut open — and a worthy celebration replacement.
Scratch Baked Goods Boston cream pie
Down in Long Beach, Scratch Baked Goods takes up a cozy corner on Fourth Street where the staff produces plenty of goods, including a decadent Boston cream pie (it’s really more of cake, don’t worry) worth diving into for a birthday celebration.
Sweet Lady Jane’s triple berry shortcake
Sweet Lady Jane’s triple berry shortcake is what most think of when considering a birthday cake. It’s a stunner with smoothed vanilla icing surrounding a yellow butter cake with layers of whipped cream and fresh berries to boot.
Sweet Red Peach’s red velvet cheesecake
When amplifying a traditionally Southern dish like red velvet cake, might as well add something equally classic to make it into a memorable birthday cake from Sweet Red Peach. This Inglewood bakery sells out quickly, so call to place an order ahead of time.
Valerie’s Confections German chocolate cake
Valerie Confections takes two layers of devil’s food cake, Nutella buttercream, caramel, coconut, and macadamia filling for a signature German chocolate cake. Pick one up, sit this beauty in front of a loved one, and wish them a happy birthday.