Kransekage from Byen Bakeri, a painterly creation from Lady Grey, and the lusty tower of s'mores from Deep Sea Sugar and Salt. Seattle Met Composite image, photographs courtesy Meryl Schenker/Byen Bakeri, Lady Grey Cakes, and Deep Sea Sugar and Salt.
From cream cheese–frosted carrot cakes to classic chocolate, here’s a roundup of bakeries for when your loved ones demand something a little more posh than a funfetti boxed mix. (Let’s be real though: Funfetti is always a treat.)
On an unassuming stretch of Nickerson Street, a Scandinavian cafe makes a decadent lineup of classic cakes (carrot and cream cheese, chocolate ganache, vanilla raspberry). But the real winners at Byen are its Scandinavian specialties. Try the kransekage, a Scandinavian celebration cake with towered rings of crusty-yet-moist sweet-almond cake. Or the aptly named Swedish gooey cake (aka kladdkaka), a flourless chocolate cake with powdered sugar topping. Give the store a call for custom lettering, but trust that no fancy decoration is needed—the delicate pastry layers are perfection already under their powdered sugar dusting.
The Hawaiian-toned cakery has been a work of family pride since the ’ 90s, when Mary Buza-Sims would bake Portuguese sweet breads and guava chiffon pie—flavors that recalled her upbringing on Kuai—for Kuai Desserts. Her son, Mosi, continues her sweet-toothed traditions and bakes Polynesian classics in a shop that’s hard to miss thanks to its tropically hued signage. Credit his mom for the lineup of island-inspired cakes like pineapple-coconut or that classic guava: a two-layer Barbie-pink strawberry cake held together by guava filling and topped with whipped frosting. View and order these colorful confections online; they come as round cakes or sheets and you can add writing and customize the size. Make sure to order one week out—the small bakery books up fast for custom orders.
Charlie Dunmire and her team of all-women bakers offer flavors like London Fog (earl gray cake held together by bergamot mascarpone cheese) and the chocolate-rich 9lb Porter in the form of soaring cakes (the vanilla bean custard reaching heights of nine layers of milk–soaked pastry). Dunmire takes special orders and can add a smattering of gold leaf or fresh flowers. These confections require careful prep, so get your order in seven days before pickup. Last-minute revelers can visit Deep Sea’s Georgetown headquarters to grab one of the premade cakes on sale each day—the small selection is known to sell out within an hour of opening.
This pastry institution has garnered a committed following of Eastsiders since Ed Hoffman opened his original shop in 1984. Husband-wife duo Eugenia Velez and Carlos Covelli took over the shop in 2006, but have kept Hoffman’s original bakers and staunchly preserve the integrity of the shop’s traditional European recipes. The marzipan-wrapped princess torte draws devotees, but Eugenia’s favorite is a tiramisu-inspired, espresso-soaked sponge cake topped with enough dark chocolate shavings to get lost in.
The best friend team behind Lady Grey Cakes, an online custom cake storefront, whips up artful creations that range from unexpected (blueberry pancake-influenced cake, anyone?) to comforting classics like dark chocolate with Nutella buttercream. The two-woman operation divides the work—Becca Hapke guides the menu, while Alia Al-Hatlani uses her background in oil painting to guide the pastel-swirled buttercream designs. They can satisfy any age, but these elegant wedding cake–adjacent decorations seem better suited for grown-up celebrations.
Rebecca and William Pennington run their bakery out of a building that resembles a life-size, ruby-hued dollhouse. The Penningtons’ daughters inspire this operation, both in name and in the unofficial unicorn theme: The shop sells unicorn hot chocolate, unicorn-flavored cake (vanilla with raspberries and blueberries swirled throughout), and Rebecca’s forte—cakes decorated with edible gold unicorn horns and manes of rainbow buttercream. The website offers other custom decorations, in case unicorns aren’t your jam. For solo (or smaller) celebrations, customers can build their own individual-size cake: Choose a cake flavor, a custard filling, and finally a buttercream frosting to cap your creation.
Phebe Rossi’s gluten-free bakery has a cake repertoire of simple yet satisfying proportions. All cakes are decorated in the “naked style” (a hint of frosting on the outer edges, generous heaps between the layers) and can be ordered by phone in a variety of sizes. Or if you’re in a pinch, stop by the shop on 15th Avenue for one of the readymade eight-inch creations. The bakery doesn’t do custom designs, but its carrot or classic chocolate flavors—and imaginative seasonal options like pumpkin spice or vanilla chai—should please both GF and gluten-loving party guests. Vegan options are also available, ensuring that everyone can get a slice.
In a compact brick storefront, baker Kara Burfeind builds fanciful creations out of a range of classic cake flavors like chocolate peanut butter and lemon cream. The SweetSide has a stable of go-to specialty designs, from a spray of tasteful frosting flowers to mermaid or macaron themes. But Burfeind’s happy to put her pastry degree to use on mega-custom cakes shaped like Lego characters or a fondant-wrapped calculator. Her bakery’s online ordering interface is pretty impressive, but even basic cakes require a six-day advance order.