Wrap it up to go. Le Cakery has one of the best enticements a retail spot could ask for: The luscious, sugary aromas of baking cakes. Upon entering the parking lot off of Galveston Avenue, you are struck by the warm, comforting smell that takes you by the nose and leads you to a little pink sliver of a shop staffed by two high-energy ladies cooking, decorating, selling and storing all their goods in about 400 square feet of space.
Ida Green Gurule and Karin Denman met in a Jazzercise class and started brainstorming about opening a specialty bakery. While living in Tacoma, Gurule owned a wholesale bakery specializing in cookies and challah. But this time she wanted to do something a bit different and, at the suggestion of Denman, decided on decorative Bundt cakes and cupcakes, as well as cookies, bars and challah.
Once they returned from a research trip to California, they started testing recipes using their fellow Jazzercise students as guinea pigs. "We would do blind tastings of cupcakes and samples of different cakes to find out what people liked," explains Gurule.
The morning I stopped in, the phone was ringing non stop. Customers drifted in and out in a steady stream to pick up previously ordered goodies or reserve a cake for a special occasion. Gurule and Denman were doling out some of the delicious challah bread (with a secret ingredient that makes it "so much different and better") in between greeting customers and putting the finishing touches on a few dozen cupcakes.
Gurule says, surprisingly, that the best-selling flavors are vanilla and lemon. Although chocolate is always popular, the poppy seed is sophisticated, and the banana is fun - it's the other two that are yielding the bulk of the sales. Once I tasted the vanilla, I understood why. Rather than being tasteless and an invitation for more frosting, this vanilla was full flavored, rich and buttery. The lemon has just enough tartness and, when topped with the light lemon butter cream glaze, is just heavenly.
Le Cakery will also take gluten-free orders and bake up a yummy wheat-free chocolate or lemon Bundt or cupcakes with advanced notice. They also make gluten-free brownies and the naturally gluten-free macaroons.
1227 NW Galveston 383-2345. Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.