Oakland Bakes: Organic Affordable Wedding Cakes

Oakland Bakes | Wedding Cakes (10)

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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).”

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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.”

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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?”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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  • Margi

    Those cakes look so amazing that they make me want to get married JUST so I can order those cakes. What a work of art! (That will go straight into my mouth!)

  • I’m really disappointed now that I’m in Texas… and that I got married 3 years ago… because all of this sounds like win-win-win-win-win.

  • 1. The standard has just been raised for my future wedding (again).

    2. I just sent the link for Kitchener Oakland to my career-searching chef-friend in NYC, because obviously starting a community kitchen needs to be her next job.

    3. Meg, we keep having the “throw another damn party” discussion in the comments, so instead of going back in time, buy a cake for another damn party already. Then invite us. We’ll bring our own forks!

    Major fist-bump to local, organic food with style!

    • I mean, stick a candle in the top and you have baby’s first birthday, APW-style.

    • Slightly off-topic, but Hot Bread Kitchen runs an incubator/community kitchen in NYC: http://hotbreadkitchen.org/ Might be interesting for your friend. And their bread is delish!

      • Thanks! I’ll pass it along! So much more fun to plan her career than mine :-)

      • Blimunda

        You guys. A communal kitchen. I’m thinking/studying to start a bakery with similar values… I have no idea if this is doable in my (very bureocratic) country, I’ve never heard about it, but really. It’s awesome. It’s so clever it’s almost genious. Thank you. THANK YOU!!

    • Tell your friend about Third Ward in Brooklyn. They are a coworking/studio/class space, and they are opening a culinary cooperative space really soon!

      • Whoa, that place looks awesome! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Sarah

    I was lucky enough to go to Mad for Love and try this cake, and I’m not sure if it has been explained enough that this cake is also THE MOST DELICIOUS cake in THE ENTIRE WORLD.

    • Caroline

      It was seriously delicious.

    • MarieKD

      Yes, this. My husband and I went to Mad for Love, even though we got married last year and he’s still talking about the cake. It was amazing.

  • kc

    Those are indeed stunningly low prices. And that’s some beautiful smooth buttercream.

    Do you happen to know what their slice size is? (most wedding cakes “serving 60 people” or whatever are depending on a teeeeeny tiny slice, which works fine for cakes that taste lousy, but not so well for cakes that taste *good* like these ones sound). Even if the slices are teeny, though, that is super cheap.

    • meg

      Dude. Their slice sizes are big. Because the cake that they said serves 48 was the cake that I thought would serve 100. (We did not have huge cake slices at our wedding, because I donno, it’s wedding cake.)

      • kc

        Industry standard size for wedding cake slices is something ridiculous like 2″ by 1/2″, which makes a lot of sense when the cake is basically horrible and only fulfilling a ceremonial function, but would be *so sad* with a tasty cake. Two bites of deliciousness and no more…

        I am *amazed* they can pull off that pricing with that quality of cake – that’s a lot of hours of work in design and baking and decorating and delivery, and a lot of tasty ingredients in there! Congratulations to them!

    • Hi KC,

      Our serving sizes are standard cake slice sizes, not those tiny wedding slices.

      • kc

        You are awesome and amazing. I am so impressed. :-)

        (plus! larger cake slices means that a tasty cake will actually serve that many people, instead of running out early because people go back for seconds after they realize how good the cake is!)

  • Emily

    Shouting to the other room: Hey, babe? Can we go to California and buy a wedding cake?
    Other room: NO.

    Well. There goes that idea.

    • Aubry

      For serious. I want to drive to California for this. It’s only a 14 hour drive, shouldn’t melt in that time…
      Please make another business in Vancouver?? It’s nice here :)

  • Crayfish Kate

    Wow. Just, wow.

  • I need a ticket to Oakland and $288, please.


  • SJ

    I know everyone says the go to wedding for the happy couple and beautiful memories….yeah, ok. I go for the cake. Wedding cake is the bomb-diggity. And THESE wedding cakes…well….

    I wonder if I could convince the FH to move?

  • Beth

    Picking Oakland Bakes to do my cake(s) has literally been the easiest wedding decision I’ve made. It helps that I know Brittany, one half of the team, and had tasted her delicious baking in the past, but even so, trying their cakes at the Mad Love event made me EVEN HAPPIER to be using them. So. Freaking. Good.

    Also, Brittany is the one who inadvertently introduced me to APW a few months ago, so not only do I get delicious cake, but I get a side of sanity and awesomeness from everyone here as well. Awwwww. I win.

  • Those cakes look SOOOOO gorgeous. And delicious. And are crazy affordable. So much winning.

  • Maddie

    They also have one cake that tastes like the best Key Lime pie I’ve ever eaten it. I’m buying it for my birthday and none of you can stop me.

    • So, I guess we’re moving. Now. For cake.

    • Another Meg

      OMG do that. I’ll hop on a plane and bring a fork.

      Planes are free, right?

      • In this case, yes.

    • It’s my birthday next week, and I think I need to get my passport so I can have some amazing birthday cake.

  • Mel

    Oakland Bakes is my new baking hero. No, I don’t need a wedding cake or anything, but I am working on starting my own bakery, and what OB does is everything I would love to do. So many kudos to them for believing in fair prices, steering clients towards deliciously seasonal items, and NO FONDANT! Also, their cakes are STUNNING. Wow. Wow. Wow.

    • Obviously, you now need to hop a plane to SF and go spend a day (or week) working with them in the kitchen and swapping skills and goals. And then we’ll look forward to YOUR sponsor intro post, with your business up and running. :-) That’s called APW magic

      • Mel

        You know…that’s kind of genius :)

  • Bri

    I too tried these cakes at the Mad For Love event. I don’t like cake. I definitely don’t like most wedding cakes. But when I put this cake into my mouth, I said “Holy shit, I think I’m a cake believer now.”

    Seriously, this is delicious, delicious cake. I am on the cake train thanks to Oakland Bakes!

  • Meg, I love your description of eating cake. There is not enough writing by ladies about shoving food into our mouths.

    I want more!

  • Anya

    I’m so excited to have Oakland Bakes make my wedding cake!

    I found them through APW, and immediately went: THEM. WE MUST FIND THEM! Do you understand how hard it is to explain to other bakeries that you don’t want fondant? or that you want something more original than a red velvet or lemon chiffon? Or how about fake colorings?

    And the usual answer: “THIS IS WHAT BRIDES WANT.”

    Well, I’m a bride, and I want a natural cake that’ll make me lick my plate. My tasting with Oakland bakes… I had to apologize because i couldn’t stop eating samples. Seriously. And they were so attentive to all the details and trying to help us design a cake!

    Seriously, please at least contact them! Better yet, BOOK THEM! They are amazing.

    • Thanks Anya! Meeting you and Jeremy was super fun and we’re excited to be working with you!

  • Class of 1980

    I would almost get married just for one of these cakes. Is that wrong? ;)

    • Class of 1980

      I finally read the whole post. My head exploded that wedding cakes usually start at $1,000 in the Bay area. Can’t relate here in the Georgia mountains.

      But these Oakland Bakes cakes would actually be considered a great deal even here!

      • ElisabethJoanne

        At the bakeries that often appear on WIC blogs, maybe, yes. We found about $6/slice for a tiered cake to be the standard starting point at independent bakeries just south of San Francisco (as in, not a grocery store bakery, not the ethnic chains). We paid just over that for our all-natural (but not organic) tiered cake. A 3-tier cake for 70, and a sheet cake for 40, came out to about $675.

        • meg

          We weren’t exactly frequenting WIC bakeries (what… are those? I’ve actually never heard of such a thing?), and it was pretty darn hard to dip below the 1K mark, if you wanted it to look like a wedding cake (and we did). I’m certainly glad you’ve had better luck, at least outside of the city, but that doesn’t mean the $1K price tag isn’t frequent for a lot of us… who are not dumb shoppers.

          • kc

            On behalf of bakeries, I’d note that if a wedding cake turns out badly (or “wrong” according to a bridal color scheme), you may get sued and/or feel like you “ruined someone’s wedding”, and you don’t necessarily have time to make a whole new one (nor would you have one around that could be doctored, like a birthday cake might have a “backup” in stock), so there’s a lot of extra pressure and some markup there. There’s also a lot more work and planning and sheer internal structure to be done than a regular cake.

            But yes. This is why those prices in that area for this bakery are extra-amazing!

  • Sophie

    Oakland Bakes did the desserts for my wedding last May and they are fantastic! Amazing desserts, custom designed for you, and great customer service. They worked closely with me to fulfill my (very particular) dessert preferences (3 types of cake, 3 types of cookies) and stay in my budget for 150 guests. My only regret is not being able to eat more of it at the wedding! Hire them!

  • Rebekah

    I’ve been drooling over this post all day and finally have come up with a solution. FH and I are having a Cheese Cake (rounds of cheese instead of tiers of cake) but I should get one of these for the rehearsal dinner. And/or my birthday.


  • Remy

    Wow. How did I not know about these folks?? We got married in Oakland, and that all sounds like just what we were looking for. (There was a “no fondant” rule for the wedding.) I looked at a LOT of websites and interviewed one independent baker (out of our price range for feeding only ~20 people) before throwing my hands up and getting exactly what we wanted at Whole Foods. Guests went out of their way to compliment the cake, and it was super-affordable, so I’m happy with that choice…but I might just look into Oakland Bakes for some other cake-needing event.

  • Caely

    I am the APW reader who thought the cakes must be a zillion dollars, and what Meg says is true. My good friends who got married in Oakland recently ended up getting a flat cake because they couldn’t find anything tiered for less than $900. To be fair, being super practical people, they didn’t go crazy searching – that just seemed to be the going rate. These cakes were (a) gorgeously styled, (b) organic, AND (c) mind-blowingly delicious? I figured they would run WAY more than $900.

    You all can see how the gorgeous the cakes are, so I won’t dwell on that too much, but I want to make sure you all understand what’s going on under the frosting. At least in the cakes we tasted at Mad for Love, the star of the show was the filling. It’s a creamy, custardy, shockingly flavorful filling that would be an entirely respectable dessert all on it’s own, and there was a maybe a half-inch layer of it. The cake layers were a little teeny bit on the dry side, just enough to provide some textural contrast, and the whole package was really well-balanced. A symphony in your mouth.

  • Oakland Bakes loves APW! All of these nice words has given us the warm fuzzies.

    We were in the kitchen all day and are just now getting around to the Internets. All of these comments are amazing and the perfect thing to read before bedtime. We feel super lucky to be able to create things we love for people who love them!

    Thank you thank you thank you,
    Kelsi and Brittany

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