Drive down Harlem Avenue, through Chicago’s Southwest Side, and you’ll find dozens of Middle Eastern restaurants and bakeries.
While these bakeries are impressive, they all tend to serve the same things. But a new bakery in Palos Hills is offering the community a very different lineup.
From Bridgeview to Palos Hills, most bakeries along South Harlem Avenue have plenty of baklava and kunefah. But a graduate of a French pastry school decided to mix it up a bit by offering her community a taste of what she found in other cities, adding her own twist.
Appearances can be deceiving at Cake ‘N Bake, a tidy bakery in a low-key Palos Hills strip mall. You could swear they were filling donuts; they are not. Passion fruit, mango and raspberries are layered with almond cake, in a treat that takes no more than four bites. Even the series of mousse cakes is charming, some “painted” in chocolate or coffee.
“I wanted to have something that I would like to see in every store I want to go to; I want to try something new,” said Wasfia Shalabi, owner of Cake ‘N Bake.
So after a trip to New York where she saw rolled croissants, she figured out how to make them. The dough is layered with layers of butter, just like a croissant, but then rolled out, filled like a filled donut or paczek, and then filled with echoes of the filling.
“We have pistachio, hazelnut, Lotus Biscoff, Nutella chocolate and strawberry cheesecake,” she said.
The puff pastry looks like a giant ice cream cone, but it’s not.
“Pudding and fruit on top, then chocolate and Nutella with Ferrero,” Shalabi said.
One of the pastry chefs is working on a special mousse cake they call “banoffee”.
“Banana, caramel and chocolate mousse on top…”
Meanwhile, her coffee foam is downright stunning. It looks like a huge coffee bean but eats like a sweet, soft cloud.
“It has a chocolate sponge with crunchy chocolate and hazelnut, we have coffee creme brulee and coffee foam on top,” she said.
Pistachios play an important role in the kitchen not only in rolled croissants, but also in cheesecake.
“White chocolate, pistachios, and we put our pistachio paste on top and decorated it,” Shalabi said.
And decorating seems to be a common theme here. A simple cake is topped with a dome-shaped cake.
“That’s a vanilla-strawberry mousse cake, and we put it on top of a fruit cake that has strawberry cake and custard.”
Shalabi says her creations have impressed customers. Most of them they had never seen before.
“And they want to try everything,” she said.
Here’s where you can go:
10456 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Hills