"Cupcake baker" has officially replaced "handbag designer” as annoying It profession.
And while certainly we love cupcakes, maybe there’s a slight point there—with the vast quantity of cupcake places opening up, it can be hard to know who’s good and who will last. So it was immensely refreshing to come across Freeport Bakery, an institution of a bakery based in Sacramento that’s been serving up sweet treats (not just cupcakes!) since 1987. They’ve been open through various cake and bakery trends, but customers keep on coming back for their European-inspired cakes and tortes; with a new, expanded location coming soon, they’re certainly doing something right. In a recent interview, co-owner Marlene Goetzeler dished on the cakes she's seen come and go, how sweet life is with a German baker husband, and introduced us to the PIMS cake:
Cakespy: How did you get started as a baker?
Marlene Goetzeler: Walter is my husband and partner. He grew up in Bavaria, above his parents' bakery. He came to the US when he was in his twenties to travel and see the states. He had gone to baking school in Germany and worked in bakeries since he was about fourteen. I do the business end (the "not sexy" part, I know...) and he takes care of the baking part.
CS: Do you remember what the first sale was on your first day open, over 20 years ago?
MG: I remember selling my first cake. It was the Fruit Basket.
CS: Where do your recipes come from?
MG: We work with familiar recipes and then add our style to them. Walter brought a lot from Germany. We also have a great and talented staff. We think of things we liked when we were younger and things that we like as adults.
CS: What is your most popular cake flavor?
MG: Has to be the golden buttermilk. Personally, I'm chocolate girl but I can eat that any time.
CS: Have certain cake flavors gone in and out of fashion during the time you've been baking?
MG: I remember Dobash Torte being requested all the time years ago. More than flavors, it's cakes. Like tiramisu. OMG! Trend of all trends. Or chocolate cake with raspberry couli.
CS: What is this PIMS cake we see on your menu? Is there a story behind it?
MG: My head cake decorator (she's been with us 19 years), my manager (she's been with us since '91) my assistant (since '89) and I go away together after the holidays for a few days every year. We eat really good food and laugh a lot. I brought along some PIMS cookies that someone gave me in a Christmas basket. We were drinking wine and eating. I ate one of the
cookies and said we really need to make a cake with these flavors. When we got back into town, Carol, the decorator, took me up on it. It is fantastic.
CS: What is your personal favorite dessert item (doesn't have to be something from your bakery, but it can be)?
MG: Walter makes fantastic homemade vanilla bean ice cream. We bring home some chocolate cake and eat it with the ice cream. Otherwise, I can eat one of our napoleons just about anytime!
CS: What, to you, is the most important factor in making a "good" cake?
MG: From a bakery owner's standpoint? Consistency. A wonderful cake that will taste great today and when you order it a month from now. No recipe changes. No surprises about the flavor. When you cook, you can change a recipe. When you bake you stick to the recipe. From a person who loves baked goods? It has to have fresh ingredients and a really good frosting. (Cakespy Note: We concur about the frosting!)
CS: What do you think of the cupcake popularity that seems to be sweeping the nation?
MG: I admire the flavor combinations some people are coming up with. They sound fantastic. My grandmother and grandfather came to visit us every Sunday. My grandmother brought a huge shirt-box box full of chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles. We devoured them by Tuesday. We make cupcakes at the bakery with a recipe that is as close as we can get to my memory of my "grandma's cupcakes." And we will keep making them after this wave has passed.
CS: Any future plans for Freeport Bakery?
MG: We recently signed on with a developer to move the bakery to a new location. It's only 1/4 mile away but a much larger location. Our little bakery is bursting at the seams. We have over 50 employees and we are open seven days a week. Too much going on for our little space. We will be able to do more with more space but what that is, is a secret for now.
CS: Do you have any advice for those interested in starting a bakery today?
MG: Work in one. For a long time. Do every job you can. Good luck.
Freeport Bakery recently celebrated its 20th anniversary (!). They are located at 2966 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento; online at freeportbakery.com.