I have been in Vernon for a grand total of 10.5 days and, in that time, I have extensively Googled local bakery options, and I have visited two different bakeries and one fancy coffee shop. After all of these efforts, I am left only with one question: where is all the cake???
I can only assume that living in Vancouver has ruined me for smaller town cake life. Vancouver is home of the hipster bakery, full of artisinal goods (as though all baking isn’t artisinal?) and trendy flavour combinations. I have no desire to eat cake flavoured like matcha or london fog but, in Vancouver, those options are readily at my fingertips. Vancouver’s bakeries feature baked goods and cakes that look like a million bucks, even if they don’t taste it. Appearance is everything. Cakes are all clean lines, impeccably smoothed out frostings, with maybe the occasional naked cake trending its way into the mix.
I didn’t think that I had succumbed to the pomp and circumstance of trendy urban bakeries…but I have. Despite ultimately wanting something that tastes good, my eyes cannot help themselves. They gravitate towards the aesthetic, the beautiful, the hopelessly modern. Here, in my new hometown, there is no modern bakery. There is only the classic mom and pop bakery, the kind that features humble looking cookies, and carrot cakes whose tops are adorned with unpretentious frosting carrots. It is a town that still has black forest cakes en masse, and not the kind featuring playful adaptations (i.e. roasting cherries, switching out kirsch for bourbon, other such nonsense, etc.) that make a mockery of black forest cake tradition. No. These black forest cakes are purists: chocolate cake, cherry filling, whipped topping, shaved chocolate and maraschino cherries to garnish. In Vernon, it appears, you do not mess with a classic.
There is nothing wrong with this. It is, in fact, refreshing to see this commitment to simple, pure baking. And yet I can’t help wondering, where is the salted caramel buttercream? Where are the chocolate ganache glazes, artfully dripping down the sides of the cake? Where are the impossibly tall cakes? I’m talking about those six-layered cakes, stacked tall, sandwiched with layer upon layer of thick frosting, perhaps even a tart curd or pastry cream? Where are the trendy flavours that I don’t want to eat, but that I want to look at solely to wonder ‘who eats that flavour of cake?!?’
They are not here. Maybe they are in our neighbouring town of Kelowna, where trend and pretentiousness have been on the rise for years. But they are not here. I’m sure in time I will adjust. I’m sure one day I’ll buy a cake and realize it’s the cake I’ve actually been searching for, perfect in its simplicity. But for now I’m in a bit of a cake culture shock, so indulge me this question: really, where is all the cake????