Helloooo beautiful people. I'm back! We'll, technically I'm typing this as I wing over the dark Seattle sky, but in just a few short hours I'll touch down in sunny Southern California and post this to the blog. Sorry there hasn’t been much in the way of articles for the past week and a half. Once I sort through all of my photos, I'll start writing some of the great places I visited and introduce you to a new blog contributor, a charming fellow who takes after my own heart. In the meantime, here's a review I've been dying to share with you all.)
Can you remember your first bite of cake? For Cat, her first memories of cake revolve around Polly Ann Bakery in San Pedro. Since as far back as she can remember, her parents have bought her birthday cake from this decades-old, neighborhood confectioner.
Tucked away on a quiet, one-way street, Polly Ann Bakery has served the families of longshoremen, fishermen, and other working class craftsmen around the Port of Los Angeles for generations. Although its sweet treats seem influenced by European baking traditions, the bakery is a thoroughly American proposition.
As an example, when I asked several of staff members about one of their kringles, I got blank looks in response. Only after I pointed at what I was talking about did one of the counter girls identify the kringle as a "Danish ring".
Confused though their terminology may be, the flavors at Polly Ann Bakery are simple, straightforward, and delicious. Every morning, the bakers cook up rafts of sticky, flakey treats for their loyal regulars. The portions are generous, this is an American bakery after all, and the prices fit the blue collar neighborhood. It's a good thing Cat and I live an hour away. One of their dangerously delightful Danishes every morning might just about do me in.
Even more deadly is their selection of classic cookies, as Cat can attest. When she was a small girl, she loved getting cookies from Polly Ann Bakery. She'd carry the cookie carefully with both hands as she followed her mother home. One on notable occasion, she tripped and fell. Unwilling to drop the cookie, she ended up sprawled out on the pavement, skinning both sets of elbows and knees. To this day, she considers it a fair trade for having saved her cookie.
A few months ago, I was finally able to sample one of these scrape-worthy cookies. The very same type of cookie, in fact, that Cat had fallen saving as a child. A golden drop of shortbread with a dab of pink icing in the center, it practically melted away in my mouth, leaving lingering hints of butter and sugar. I'd never tried a shortbread cookie so light and airy, or one that wasn't overly rich. According to Cat, only her late Scottish grandmother baked better shortbread.
The same level of care is taken with the cakes at Polly Ann Bakery. I've always had a problem with the amounts of butter and sugar used in American confections. For a lad raised on Taiwanese sponge cakes filled with fresh fruit and lightly decorated with whipped cream, American cakes have often been too rich and sweet. Eating a piece of the overly frosted bricks sold in most major grocery chains is the equivalent of subjecting my taste buds to a sensory A-bomb. I usually get a headache afterwards. However, The buttercream used by Polly Ann is less sweet and more aerated, making it less rich. Their fluffy sponge cake, while suitably full of flavor, seems more like an angle cake in texture. If it wasn't for the measured cap of buttercream weighing down their cupcakes, I'd be worried about them floating off into the aether.
(Image taken by The Oni and property of Margaret's French Bakery. Flower arrangement service provided by The Oni.)
When we were ordering our wedding cake, Cat's only request was for one layer that was like the birthday cakes she remembered. After sampling some of the baked goods at Polly Ann Bakery, she didn't have to work very hard to convince me. In addition to the five delectable cakes provided by Margaret's French Bakery, we had a sixth one made up by Polly Ann Bakery with American yellow cake and chocolate buttercream. It was bold, straightforward, and an absolute hit with the guests.
Polly Ann Bakery - I highly recommend ordering your birthday, wedding, or special occasion cakes from them. Their flavors and presentation are clean and simple, and the quality won't disappoint. For classic American cakes, not the butter-slathered sugar bombs served up by the major grocery chains, try them.
Polly Ann Bakery
1440 West 8th Street
San Pedro, CA 90732
Polly Ann Bakery