The Great American Cake Trail

Published January 28th, 2013

Cake is an important food group. It’s right there in between fibre and fruit... I think. Or at least it should be. Cake makes everything better – including travel! If you’re dreaming of a trip to the States, why not work a little cake-time into your itinerary? Better yet, plan your whole trip around it!



If you’ve ever stumbled upon the deliciousness that is cake-based reality television you will know the USA is putting itself out there as the authority on all things frosted (read: cakexperts). But are their sugary baked goods really as light and fluffy as they let on? Here we map out the great American cake trail so you can go decide for yourself.


Georgetown Cupcakes aka DC Cupcakes in Georgetown, Washington DC

Welcome to America’s capital! A city of politicians fuelled on cupcakes? It’s no wonder America is the world’s super power. We could learn a thing or two from these cupcake-scoffing dignitaries. Georgetown Cupcakes, which you might know as DC Cupcakes, is the brainchild of sisters Katherine and Sophie. The bakers, TV stars and sugar goddesses have branched out into other cities but the magic all started here in DC. With their life savings and a can-do attitude, the sisters set about heading to Washington and making the world a better place... one cupcake at a time. There are even gluten-free and vegan options! Talk about humanitarians.


What to try: Red velvet


Nearby in Soho, New York City

Magnolia Bakery in New York City, New York

Satisfy your inner travel bug and cake monster with a trip to the original Magnolia Bakery in New York’s West Village. A humble blue awning gives way to godlike decadence in the form of flour, butter, eggs, sugar and milk. Some say Magnolia Bakery kicked off the cupcake trend and I for one would like to thank them for bestowing this great blessing upon us all. If you find yourself ready for a second round near Rockefeller Centre or Grand Central Station, you’re in luck with two more locations to get your cupcake fix. Magnolia was forever immortalised in Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, leading me to equate that cake and rom-coms should never be apart. Ever!


What to try: Classic vanilla


Carlo’s Bake Shop aka Cake Boss in Hoboken, New Jersey 

The township might start with hobo, but you can expect only the highest quality at Carlo’s Bake Shop which has been supplying New Jersyans with specialty cakes for over a century. ‘Carlo’ (real name Buddy, REAL name Bartolo) is the Cake Boss himself and runs the bakery with his four sisters. Obviously dysfunctional hilarity ensues, but the cakes are darn good! Carlo’s is more than just cake. So much more. Why not take a stash of flaky, crumbly, buttery, golden pastries and cookies back to your hotel room to practice your best Cookie Monster impersonation in private?

Indulge your inner Italian at Carlo’s by talking with gusto and, between accompanying hand gestures, filling your cakehole with treats that have been perfected by four generations of la famiglia.


What to try: Cannolis



Sprinkles Cupcakes aka Cupcake Wars in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles 

Founders Candace and Charles Nelson say they opened the first ever cupcake-devoted bakery, to the delight of cupcake-devotees throughout L.A. Take a seat at the cupcake bar and control your saliva when perusing the range of cupcakes a la Sprinkles pumped full of pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and Belgium chocolate. If you have ever had uncontrollable cravings for cupcakes in the wee hours of the morning, fear not! Swing by the 24-hour Cupcake ATM to satisfy those midnight munchies or just for the sheer novelty of it. You can even buy cupcakes for your dog. Yes. Your DOG. Or hit up the Sprinkles Cupcakes iPhone app for virtual cupcake gifting (self-gifts count, right?). These people deserve a Nobel Peace Prize.


What to try: S’mores


Eat all of the cupcakes at Sprinkles Cupcakes nom nom nom


Charm City Cakes aka Ace of Cakes in Maryland, Baltimore

At Charm City Cakes, the recipe for creating great work seems to be one cup hipster, a dash of graphic designer and a pinch of construction worker. Chef Duff Goldman looks more bikie than baker but his cakes are something to be applauded. And then devoured. You can’t just waltz in and enjoy a big slice of the good stuff unfortunately, but just seeing his creations is food for the soul (you can see just some in the above video - and yes they are ALL cakes!). If you’re headed to the west coast, pop into Duff’s DIY bakery Cakemix on Melrose Avenue. Duff and co recently crafted their most prestigious cake yet for President Obama’s inauguration ball. Apparently the stars and stripes tasted like freedom... and lemon poppy. How did they go? They aced it, of course.


What to try: Just try not to weep in ecstasy. Now excuse me while I go and move the button on my pants...


Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg