*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
Today’s sponsored post is one of those posts that’s hard to write, in that it should really be one sentence only: Oakland Bakes sells all organic, phenomenally delicious cakes, personally designed for you starting at $288 for a smallish three tiered cake. I mean. AND! Anyone who mentions this post and books with them by May 31st will get 10% off. If literally every single person in getting married in the whole Bay Area doesn’t immediately get in touch with these ladies, it’s only because you think you must have misread that sentence. So let me back up, because I’ve met the ladies of Oakland Bakes, I’ve had their cake, and I need to explain to you how this is, in fact, too good to be true, but yet also still true.
Here is how it goes. I met the duo behind Oakland Bakes at the East Bay vendor event Mad for Love a few weeks ago. I stopped by their booth, oohed and ahed over their beautiful cakes (because SERIOUSLY. Tell me that cake above isn’t a work of art), and ate some cake. The cake was absurdly, absurdly good, so I ate some more. And then with my mouth all full of cake, I asked them what their pricing was like. They gave me the details, which are, “Our tiered cakes start at $6.00 per serving and side cakes are $4.00 per serving. Prices increase if the flavor incorporates a particularly expensive ingredient or if the design is more complex. We also offer delivery for the greater Bay Area.”
I shoved more cake in my mouth and explained that I had no idea what that meant. What did a cake cost. Like this one? Clearly a lot, but break it to me gently. They said, “Oh, this one is $288.” And which point I sort of awkwardly swallowed my cake and blinked at them and said, “Excuse me, what?” and they said, “It’s $288.” and I blinked a few more times and said, “288 DOLLARS?” I noticed them looking at me like I was dense, at which point I sort of yelled, “288 AMERICAN DOLLARS?!?!” Because I’d clearly fallen into some sort of black hole. Buying a wedding cake was one of the worst parts of wedding planning for me. Wedding cakes in the Bay Area often start at around a grand, which I wasn’t willing to pay. So after tons of research, I’d gotten a cake just this size (though, not as fancy…or as pretty) for $650, and thought I’d won the lottery. And here they were telling me this cake was $288? Just, WHAT WAS GOING ON? And then they casually mentioned their cakes were all organic and they made their dyes by hand so they were all natural…and my head exploded.
I proceeded to spend the afternoon walking around Mad For Love and asking people to guess the price of the cake, and then yelling “NO IT’S 288 AMERICAN DOLLARS!” You guys, I’m entertaining, if that’s at all an excuse. I then found some APW readers who told me they hadn’t even spoken to Oakland Bakes, because “Look at those cakes. Works of art. We can’t afford them. They must be a zillion dollars.” And I basically pushed them up to the booth and was like, “Meet your new wedding cake. YOU’RE WELCOME.”
The full deal is that Oakland Bakes wedding cake prices break out like this, “A smallish three-tiered cake that serves 48 people would start at $288. (Editor’s note: we had 110 people at our wedding but a cake this size, because we had some other desserts too.) The smallest two-tiered cake we make starts at $138 (serves 23). And the biggest tiered cake we do is four tiers, serves 113 people, and starts at $678. Our prices increase mostly because of more complex cake designs (colored buttercream, intricate piping, etc.). We rarely increase prices based on flavor since we strongly encourage our clients to pick seasonal flavors that highlight the most delicious fruit for when their event is (which is also the cheapest).”
But let’s talk about their process, because on top of having unreal prices and phenomenal cake, they also have great customer service. This is how they got going: “When we started Oakland Bakes we thought, ‘No artificial dyes, no fondant, only serving really seasonal flavors…Is anyone going to go for this?’ Most of the time when you go to a cake tasting you try three to five of the three to five flavors that they make, and then you pick a design from a book of ten photos and that’s it. At Oakland Bakes we ask you if you have favorite flavors, what kind of food you’re serving at your wedding, if you have cake design ideas. And then at the tasting you try three flavors we’ve created custom for you and we do some sketches of cake designs to ensure that our clients are getting something uniquely theirs and that they are totally happy with.”
Plus, their passion is for creating great cakes with local organic produce. They told me, “The most important part of a great cake is the ingredients you start with. And since we’re lucky enough to be in the Bay Area, we let the amazing organic produce tell us what cakes to make. Especially during summer (the height of wedding season), we want all of our cakes to showcase the delicious organic fruit that is so plentiful in Northern California. We are also really excited about not using artificial dyes or fondant. Since all of our ingredients are organic, we use fruit, vegetables, and flowers to tint buttercreams and meringue instead of gross chemicals. The result is a beautiful natural color palette that we love. Also fondant tastes gross and we don’t want anyone eating it. Since we have no set menu and everything is custom it gives us a great creative outlet. We get to incorporate innovative ingredients into our cake flavors since we don’t have a set menu and design cakes that are modern and fit with our aesthetic. And this is going to sound cheesy but we are always so thrilled that anyone is letting us be a small part of what is probably one of the most important days in their lives. That’s awesome! And who doesn’t love cake and a great party?”
Even cooler, Oakland Bakes is able to give you these (staggeringly) low prices, because of how they run their business. Oakland Bakes shares commercial kitchen space in a communal kitchen in downtown Oakland called Kitchener Oakland. They explained, “Kitchener has created a community space in a neighborhood that most people had previously avoided. Kitchener makes it possible for really small food business to get started without the huge start-up cost that is usually associated with the food industry. (Which also helps us keep our pricing reasonable.) Kitchener hosts pop-ups and other community events that help give the vendors more community visibility, and we’re really grateful for the community we’ve become a part of.” Which, rad. These kinds of projects make me so proud to live in Oakland these days.
But beyond all of that, Oakland Bakes is really excited to work with APWers in particular. They told me, “Our first experiences with the wedding industry were not very pleasant. Coming from other bakeries that do wedding cakes, the pricing is rather arbitrary (mostly to take advantage of people), there is no flexibility with flavor or the limited designs that any given bakery does, and there is a lot of hard selling. When we formed Oakland Bakes we wanted to do wedding cakes without the crazy: straightforward pricing, seasonal flavors that take full advantage of local, organic Bay Area produce, and no hard selling (we don’t want to talk someone into buying something they’re not a hundred percent into). We were really excited to discover APW around the time we started Oakland Bakes and saw that there was a whole community of people with similar values.”
So let me break this down for you in super simple terms: I am mad that I can’t go back in time and have one of these cakes at my wedding. If you’re getting hitched in the Bay Area this year, you should be calling these ladies…probably today, honestly. You don’t want them to book up and not have a slot for you. And if you don’t happen to be getting married in the Bay Area, I’m sorry. I didn’t get to have an Oakland Bakes cake at my wedding either, so I join you in the mourning process.