(This article appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)
Jen Angel, Owner
Angel Cakes is a cupcake shop in Oakland, CA. We have a menu of over 120 different cupcake flavors that rotate through our shop and are available for custom orders. We also make cakes, cookies and cake pops. Having such a large variety of flavors keeps things interesting for me, my staff, and our customers – there are always new experiments happening, and our menu never gets tired or old. We also sell vegan and gluten-free cupcakes, cakes and cookies. March will be our fifth anniversary in our current location.
We love our unusual flavors, and customers come to us when they want to try something new or exotic, like Fig, Honey & Goat Cheese, Nectarine Sage, or Grapefruit Miso, or our many cocktail-inspired flavors. That said, sometimes customers just want their favorites! Our three top selling flavors are Chocolate Salted Caramel, Meyer Lemon Cream, and Red Velvet. We offer 20-plus flavors every day that we are open, and all the flavors are available by special order (except season fruits are…. seasonal!).
We are a small bakery (just 750 square feet), so we have to maximize space to make everything work. It may sound counter intuitive, but we have limited the size and type of products that we produce so that we can limit the size and type of baking pans or bakery boxes we use. This allows us to save space and be more efficient. For example, we only make round cakes, so that we only have to store one shape of cake pan.
We’re a small-batch bakery, and it’s probably hard to believe given the volume of cupcakes we produce, but all of our cupcake batter is mixed by hand with a whisk. Our biggest and most valuable pieces of equipment are our two Moffat convection ovens – since cupcakes are only in the oven for a short time, being able to bake multiple different batches at once is essential, and having the two ovens allows for baking at two temps, though we do our best to adjust most recipes to the same temp for efficiency. Our only other big piece of equipment is a Hobart 20-quart mixer that we use to produce all of our frostings.
Secret of Success
We are known for our variety of flavors! We exclusively bake in small batches, which allows us to produce many flavor varieties every day, as opposed to most cupcake shops that have 10 to 15 flavors that stay the same or may change by the month.
We also have become well known locally for allergy-friendly desserts. We have quite a large menu of flavors that can be made without eggs, dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, or soy- free. It’s quite convenient for customers to be able to come to one place and meet the dietary needs of everyone in their group. Angel Cakes also has strong ties to the social justice community. Every week we donate food to local organizations serving unhoused folks as well as supporting many local organizations through donations and raffle items. Earlier this year, we started the “Who Deserves a Cupcake?” program where folks can nominate others in their community who have been working hard and need a thank you.
Like every food business, we have been severely impacted by COVID and the pandemic. While before COVID a large portion of our income was from wedding and corporate events, those disappeared overnight. We shifted from doing a smaller volume of big orders to a larger volume of small orders, more appropriate for quarantine-size celebrations and events. Even when there are so many restrictions in place, everyone still needs a little moment of joy in their life, so after initially taking some time to figure out how to operate safely, our sales have remained strong. We’re hoping to convert a storeroom to a food prep area later this spring to allow us to bring on additional staff. And as always, we are bringing out new cupcake flavors every week.
Photos of Jen Angel by Lydia Daniller;
Product photos by Jen Angel
Visit https://angelcakes510.com/ for more info.