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Cakewalk Special: 36 Hours of Frosting in Portland, OR


Lemon curd tart, Papa Haydn, Portland OR

Portland, Oregon: it's just so cool. It's got a great art and design scene (you just try to find a bad logo in this town--we dare you), cool architecture, an emerging music scene, great restaurants, great wine. But on our recent trip to the City of Roses, we bypassed these things in search of a simpler pleasure: sweet, creamy frosting. Knowing that we would only be there for 36 hours, we decided to make the icing on the cake our gospel; as such, it wasn't about hitting every bakery as it was about seeking frosting nirvana wherever we went (and thus, if your favorite Portland bakery isn't listed, it's not because we didn't want to visit; it was merely time and distance constraints, as we were on foot through all of the below). Here's where we went:

Off the train, our first stop is Cupcake Jones, still a fairly new kid on the cupcake block in Portland. The space is cute, and the employees are very friendly. We choose the Peanut butter and Jelly Mini Cupcake, which is one of the few mini cupcakes that has a filling (in this cake, a peanut butter frosting-ed cupcake with a dollop of jelly inside. The frosting is good--unfortunately, the cake is--in our opinion--not as good. However, they do offer a frosting innovation we like--"Frosting Shooters", an extra dollop of frosting in a mini to-go container, for just a dollar. Perfect for when you need a little fix--why not stock up and have them at the ready in your fridge? Cupcake Jones, 307 NW 10th Ave., (503) 222-4404; online at cupcakejones.net.


We continue to walk up the hill to Saint Cupcake, where we choose a red velvet and a big top cupcake (both in the mini size). We believe that cream cheese frosting is a delicate art: it can quickly become too rich, too overpowering, too much. But not this one, which is creamy, just a little bit tangy, and completely delicious. Oh yes, we like this cream cheese frosting. And while we didn't get a vegan cupcake on this trip, having tasted them in the past, we can attest that their vegan frosting, while a different texture than the dairy-based ones, is still quite good in the eyes of these little Cake Gumshoes. Saint Cupcake, two locations; visit saintcupcake.com for more information.

Having worked up an appetite for lunch by this point, we head to Papa Haydn, a venerable old restaurant which has two locations in Portland, both of which have been around for many years, and which while serving full meals, are known for their desserts. We can be wary when it comes to places like this--would they be coasting on their reputation? Happily, we found them to be a delight: the main dishes were served with care, the bread was good, and oh, the desserts. When we settle on the Meyer Lemon Curd tart, we get an unexpected flash of frosting: sandwiched between the lemon curd and the shortbread crust, there is a modest layer of buttercream frosting which tickled and delighted these spy palates. Papa Haydn, two locations in Portland; for more information, visit papahaydn.com.

After a few hours of making like spies, we imbibe strong and delightful green tea at the charming Blend (where if we recall correctly, they said the baked goods are from Marcy Baking, which we ooh and ahh at but do not try), we find frosting nirvana at Crema Coffee and Bakery, where the absolutely gorgeous cupcakes are offset by equally appealing blood orange and cream tarts (next time, next time). They get points for both flavor (lemon poppyseed cake with raspberry buttercream frosting) and for the appealing precision of the decoration. Crema Bakery + Cafe, 2728 SE Ankeny, (503) 234-0206; online at cremabakery.com.

Backtracking en route to our digs at the Ace Hotel, we stop at the still quite new Sweetpea Baking Company, a vegan bakery which is part of a "Vegan Mini Mall"--a suite of several vegan-friendly businesses on that block. While the cupcakes look awesome, but opt for a change of pace with the adorably pink-frosting-filled chocolate Whoopie Pie. (Note: We were informed that the pink frosting was just for show and not a different flavor...but pink is just so cute). While the cookie is soft and crumbly, the frosting is a bit stiffer and less creamy than we'd hoped for. While not a disappointment per se (we finished every bite for certain), we think that next time we might go for the cupcakes instead, which we hear are lovely; certainly the frosting texture, which can tend toward stiff on vegan cupcakes, looked creamy and smooth. Sweetpea Baking Company, 1205 SE Stark St., (503) 477-5916; online at sweetpeabaking.com.

Approaching sugar coma, we call it a day.

We wake up way too ravenous to go much further than Stumptown Coffee for some lovely Americano, and then next-door to Kenny & Zuke's, a Jewish-style diner which we initially cannot decide if its look is contrived or cute. Ultimately though, the food wins us over, preparing us for the day ahead and staving off our imminent sugar crash just a little longer. While we don't sample them, we're appealed to by their lovely cupcakes, whose creamy, pink-frosted peaks resemble soft serve ice cream cones; though we don't sample them, certainly their beauty is worth mentioning. Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen, 1038 SW Stark St., (503) 222-DELI; online at kennyandzukes.com.

We aid digestion by swinging down to Voodoo Doughnut, in front of which we're greeted by a man who says creepily, "I hear those doughnuts are cursed". In a movie, this would be a moment later referred to as "foreshadowing". Luckily this is real life, so pushing these thoughts aside, we enter to find a true Mecca for doughnut lovers (they will do weddings, in case you were wondering), making sure to pick up a chocolate frosted for later. Like it's been said, they put a spell on us. Voodoo Doughnut, 22 SW Third Ave., (503) 241-4704; online at voodoodoughnut.com.

With our train departure fast approaching, we bypass the long line at the Pearl Bakery (where we love the shortbread) but do find time to swing by the impressive Whole Foods Bakery (where much of the stock is made in-house--including a large selection of vegan baked goods), where we pick up an oatmeal cookie, filled with a healthy dollop of maple frosting. We're highly impressed by the thick, rustic-tasting frosting, which acts as the perfect complement to the dense, oaty cookie. The oats make it practically health food, right? Whole Foods, 1210 NW Couch St. Portland, (503) 525-4343; online at wholefoodsmarket.com.

At the end of the train ride, we bus it back home to Queen Anne, where we watch an episode of Law & Order and promptly fall asleep. Call it the crash at the end of the sugar tunnel--a sweet ending indeed.


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Reader Comments (58)

I missed the giveaway! Am so mad at myself! I was too busy this weekend and totally missed it boo hoo. But on the bright side, I just saw that you have cupcake figurines for sale! I will most definitely be buying some of them. Just have to do it sneaky so the cheap hubby doesn't get all bent out of shape! But they are so cute! I must have them!

ANd your pictures always put me in a sugar coma, with drool!

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterEllo

That's it! I am packing my bags and moving to the west coast...

February 25 | Unregistered Commenterscoopalicious

I wish this was around when I went to Portland. Will have to go back now. I've been wanting to stay at the Ace Hotel! Lucky!

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

What can I say, I love cakes - to see and eat!!!!!!!!!!!!

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterMarie-Louise

Now I want to visit Portland!!

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

It all looks so good ... and I'm on a diet :(

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

I want these lovely cakes !!!!!! Oh My are beauties!!!!! xxxxxGloria

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

Toot toot! (sorry, I had to toot my own Portland horn). I'm glad you got to try out all of the sweetness we have here. Portland is a great city, and everyone should come vist. It's a treat!

And congrats to the contest winner! Lucky Ducky!

February 25 | Unregistered Commenter| Candice Harrell |

That lemon curd tart looks so clean and fresh! I love the contrasting flower petal on the top.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterPam

just popping by for another look at these tasty treats!!! yummm...
I could eat a slice of that lemon pie...


February 25 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Evans

Those are some fine-looking confections. I'm an absolute sucker for a good lemon tart.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterJack

A vegan mini mall?!?! Why, oh why do I have to live so far away in Texas?!

Anne-Marie: Wow! Looks like you had a great cupcake moment in Portland too! We feel that perhaps you showed more..er...moderation than us on your trip though! :-)

Kevin: We'll say! But you're getting REALLY good with savories! Wow!

Diana: As well you should!

Ovenhaven: We would mail you a piece but that baby's gone! :-)

Niko: Oh, you'd love the interior even more than the name!!

Zen Chef: next time you come to the NW, we need to "Cakewalk"!

Jill: It really is a great scene. It's a great place to walk around, too--very nice city planning.

Marq: The tart was very, very divine--and the buttercream just added a certain...je ne sais quoi. Worth the 2000 miles!

Kimbab: Yes, everything was delicious! Oooh, what a lovely treat for your Cakewalk too! It's all relative--your prize seems awfully nice!

Frantic Foodie: Awesome!! Glad to hear you loved your trip! And you had the Voodoo one! Awesome!

Peabody: Yeah! have you gone to Portland before? I am surprised by how many Seattle people haven't!

Bittersweet: Yea! You'll have to hit up the Sweetpea and Saint Cupcake!

Alison Nicole: Ooh, we'll take that challenge any time!

TW: It is! It is! Worth the pilgrimage!

Melisser: Can't wait to see your own cakewalk when you go!

Aran: It is simply THE BEST way to get a new city! Go visit them soon!

Asha: Time to make the trek! Can't you see it's worth it?

Ricki: Yeah! It's our favorite way to travel...sweetly.

Gattina: Ha! It was all so good!

Ann: Yesssss! And yes, lots of stamina! After NYC Mr. Cakespy definitely finished most of what I didn't!

Michelle: Thanks! We will! We need the sugar to keep us energetic!

Stickygooey: It was dream worthy for sure. Creamy, dreamy, and delicious.

Allison: No way! I feel famous now.

Cielo: Yes, I wish you did! There are always cakes at our house.

Ello: I know all about cheap hubbies. Guess who paid for most of the pastries in Portland! Guess he "forgot" his wallet. Na, just kidding. ;-) Your story today made me laugh off all the calories btw.

Scoopalicious: we'd love to have you in the NW!

Lydia: The Ace Hotel was AWESOME. There's one in Seattle too!

Marie-Louise--us too! You've come to the right place!

Deborah: With good reason! It's very cool.

Chuck: Diet? Is that Latin? we don't know that word.

Gloria: We ate them and even we want them...again!

Candice: Yeah!!!! We totally have a crush on your city. Too bad we didn't hit up your favorite, Pix Patisserie (though I have tried their pastries through a gourmet grocery store they sell at...but I have never been there in person!)

Pam: It was gorgeous and delicious!

Diana: Wish we could share a piece--but as you see, we killed it!

Jack: As you can see from the empty plate...we are too! Glad you enjoyed! :-)

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Aiding digestion with a donut...ahahaha!! My thought exactly! If one day I make it to Portland I know where to go!!

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterTartelette

I go to Portland at least once a year and I can't WAIT to reference this post again before my next trip. Were the donuts really, really good?
I SO respect your abilityt to take down so much cake in one day!

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

Oooooooh, that lemon pie picture!!!!!! Just looking at it makes my stomach gargle....

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterMary-Laure

I just wanted to say "thanks" for visiting me at Life in Recipes. I've never been to your "house" before, and I'm so glad - what a happy home it is! I'll be'round again.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Robb

hey cakespies!! I love you guys so much, you dont know when I first layed my eyes on that picture of that lemon cheese cake I had tears in my eyes

and a pain in my belly!

but I have to say, maybe I've been watching too much pron lately but that Whoopie Pie looks strange to me...>>

but this is a lovely post, merci!

post more!

come to san francisco for a group cakewalk

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterCupcake Monster

What can I say that hasn't been sai already?

YUM....I plan on being armed with a copy of this post next time I'm in Portland.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterMe, Myself & I

I would throw up if I ate all of those sweets in one day. I guess you guys shared it all.

Whoopie pies are so cool!

Saint Cupcake must be pretty famous, because I've been hearing a lot about them lately.

February 25 | Unregistered CommenterEmiline

wonderful job cakespy. as a portlander and cake-o-holic, i applaud you on your choices. st. cupcake and voodoo are my two faves (notice that they are both counter places where you can receive instant gratification). in fact, voodoo is one of my favorite places on earth. and st. cupcake opened a smaller store near my house. i'm there all the time. my dentist is not happy. but i am. and i might throw up if i ate all those sweets in one day, but i would just smile and continue eating.....mmmm.....donuts....

long live the cupcake! I'm going to embark on serious cupcake tasting end of March in San Francisco for some research. I'm sure I'll be in a sugar coma by the end of the day too!

February 26 | Unregistered CommenterVeron

Oh my, I just couldn’t take my eyes off that slice of lemon pie with the red and white pattern, this looks amazing!! Awesome post and really enjoyed the read :D

Rosie x

February 26 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

Wow, these photos are amazing. That lemon pie looks delicious!!

February 26 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey

Tartelette: Yes, we hope you get a chance to go!

Caroline: well, it was split, and we did get mini sizes in some things...but yes, a lot of cake. ;-)

Mary-Laure: Now if only you'd TASTED it...you'd be dreaming even more!

Heidi: Thank you for visiting! Hope to see you often!

Cupcake Monster: Ditto, you come to Seattle, we will 'cakewalk' together.

Me, Myself: yes, it was a pretty awesome time!

Emiline: Thank you! And yes...St. Cupcake has been getting a lot of press. Just fine with us, they taste good!

Octavine: We're sad we're back because now Voodoo is so far away...

Veron: Can't wait to hear of your adventures in SF!

Rosie: Glad you liked it and now you know where to go in Portland if you ever visit!

Audrey: Thank you--and it WAS!

February 27 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy
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