Thursday, March 12, 2009
Red Velvet Cake
Make My Cake, $5/slice
What with its strong reputation and its, ahem, mouthwateringly retro logo (below), the Harlem-based bakery Make My Cake seems like a much older business than it is. Established in 1996, this southern-style scratch bakery ("We even crack our own eggs!") still relies on recipes brought north by Baylor family matriarch "Ma Smith" when she migrated from Mississippi to Harlem in the 1940's. Ma's descendants pride themselves on making commerical cakes exactly as they would in their own kitchens--or as Ma might have in hers.
Although the original Midtown store has since closed, two Harlem locations have become popular destinations for locals and tourists like. The newer St. Nicholas location is an upscale, dine-in dessert cafe, while the the take-out shop on Adam C. Powell stands in as an impromptu community center, with space available for meetings and children's parties.
Of MMC's many fine products, the pedigreed red velvet cake is a standout, recognized as the best in New York by a New York Times panel. At $5 per slice, it's something of an investment, but being nearly as tall and deep as a brownstone, it's plenty for two sittings or two people. The cake is blood-red, well-oiled, dense, and moist. The frosting is essentially whipped cream cheese cut with sugar and vanilla--sweet, unctuous, and as blindingly white as Tom Cruise's teeth. A scattering of pecan shards on the top adds texture, a nice roasted note, and a much-needed touch of nutrition.
Just down Adam C. Powell is another landmark that's equally delicious, if more savory. Cafe Veg offers vegetarian versions of soul food classics--perfectly cooked okra, beans, and greens, minus the bacon.
Make My Cake
121 St. Nicholas Ave (116th St.)
212/ 932-0833 2380
Adam C Powell Blvd (139th St.)