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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Cake Café: Zamalek Bakery & Café Still One of the Best in Town
Cake makes everything better – fact. Eager to try some of the best cake shops in town –the few that are rather away from Cairo's never-ending cupcake craze-we headed to Zamalek's cosy bakery and cake specialist, Cake Café.
Cornered in a side street next to Gezira Sporting Club, Cake Café has maintained its small two-storey space, with the ground floor housing few seats and an impressive cake display showcasing what's on the menu; the upper floor, meanwhile, has a more homely feel, thanks in part to its small library of books and board games display.
With an impressive collection of cakes, cookies, cupcakes and cocktails –think pumpkin ginger cake, chocolate fudge, Oreo cheesecake, pecan tarts and chocolate chip cookies- it took us some time to settle on what we'll opt for; especially that many of the items we aimed for – including the pineapple-banana spiced Hummingbird Cake and Pumpkin Ginger Cake– were not available at the time of our visit.
We instead went with Apple Cinnamon Cake (32LE) and Zucchini Carrot Cake (32LE) alongside two cocktails; Kiwi Splash (32LE) and Green Banana (32LE).
Starting with the apple cinnamon cake, we loved the cinnamon kick that hit with every bite, but by far the best thing about was how soft, and fluffy it, was – a sign of freshness and, more significantly, the skill that has cemented the venue as one of the best and most enduring in Zamalek.
Unfortunately, the zucchini carrot cake didn't fare as well. Firstly, there was an imbalance of flavours; the ginger was overwhelming and it was overall dry in texture, despite the presence of a moist component like zucchini the flavourful, if a little too strong, cream cheese crust.
Our cocktails were, surprisingly, what stole the show, boasting refreshing flavours and spot-on chunky consistency. Bursting with fruity flavours, the kiwi splash was a mixture of mild grape, complimented by the sweeter flavour of the kiwi, while the green banana cocktail was just as good, with an overpowering banana flavour concealing the kiwi kick.
Our visit to Cake Café wasn't without fault, but there's a reason that it has been steady ship throughout the years, even with the influx of 'concept bakeries', if you will and baked-good-trends (we're looking at you, cupcake). On Facebook, you'll find Cake Café using the words 'simple' and 'elegant' – and that's exactly what you get here. The efforts of Cake Café are channelled into the kitchen and not gimmicks and fads.
With Brew & Chew satisfying the cravings of Maadi residents, and Dip n Dip spreading their fantastic desserts in New Cairo, Nasr City and 6 of October City, the sweet-toothed of Zamalek can be forgiven for feeling a little neglected – that is until now. Chocolate by name, chocolaty by nature, Joe’s Chocolate Bar on Taha Hussein Street could be the answer to every chocaholic’s dreams.
As a venue, Joe’s Chocolate Bar is divided into two floors; the top floor has nothing remarkable about it but allows smoking, while the ground floor is where the ‘chocolate is. Besides the melted chocolate-like decoration on the wall (which is installed upside down, so instead looks like chocolate waves) the calm lighting and wood walls create a relaxing and cosy ambiance to the place.
The items on the menu are limited and nothing grabbed our attention, but we opted for the Molten Chocolate Cake (47LE), Triple Chocolate Crepe (41LE) and their new special item – as the waiter was so keen to mention – Oreo Waffle (49LE).
The molten chocolate cake had a bold chocolate flavour and a very moist texture; the gooey centre had a fantastic pudding-like consistency, which shows that it was cooked to perfection and, overall, the dessert had a spot-on sweetness. On the other hand, we would have preferred that the ice cream was served separately, because the hot temperature of cake melted it quickly and made the top of the cake rather soggy.
The triple chocolate crepe was just as good, meanwhile; coming as three thin, light and fluffy triangular servings, each one was filled with a generous amount of melted milk chocolate, and drizzled with white, milk, and dark chocolate. We also asked for fruit (10LE) on the side which consists of mini cubes of kiwi, bananas, and strawberries, and it was surprisingly fresh even though it’s not strawberry season yet.
As for the Oreo waffle, we expected nothing more than a waffle with crushed Oreo on top, but, impressively, the waffle itself had an actual layer of Oreo in the middle. Despite the waffles needing a little more milk chocolate on top and being a bit chewy, they were largely soft with a slightly crispy exterior, and the flavour of the Oreo popped in every single bite.
Joe’s Chocolate Bar definitely impressed with their well-executed desserts and big flavours, but we felt that the variety on the menu is too safe and a bit limited for a dessert specialist. We’d very happily come back for the molten chocolate cake, though.