Maybe you've seen those giant slices of cake for sale in plastic containers in your local grocery store. Or perhaps you've been to a local soul food restaurant with those towering layer cakes set out on the front counter. Chances are pretty good they came from one place: Angelica's Bakery. It's a 24-hour operation committed to satisfying our seemingly insatiable appetite, for something a little sweet after a meal.
You would think they're making cakes to feed an army. Or maybe a village. But the industrial-sized production is no joke. At Angelica's Bakery in South Suburban Hazel Crest, they're baking around-the-clock to satisfy sweet tooths all over the city.
"Angelica's was founded by a single parent; a single, black female, trying to raise her kids after her job closed up in difficult economic times back in 1990. It just evolved into making cakes for friends and eventually she ended up needing a shop," said Gregory Stokes, co-owner of Angelica's Bakery.
That shop has turned into two locations, supplying most of the Southern and Soul Food restaurants in Chicago, not to mention a number of supermarket bakery cases. One thing that has never changed, is the caramel cake.
"If you say caramel cake in Chicago, most people know Angelica's Bakery. That's what we're most known for," said Stokes.
Not just any caramel cake, mind you.. but a mile-high layer cake brushed with super-sweet caramel frosting on top and in between. The caramel and German chocolate icing are cooked on the stovetop all day long. Even the cake batter has to be made in three shifts all day, as there is a seemingly endless supply of tin cake pans that must be filled, baked and emptied. All this, so that the insatiable appetite for cakes can be satisfied.
Pound cake is another popular item. Formed in bundt pans, each one is coated with homemade lemon icing that's poured over each one, allowing it to drip and dry. Cupcakes are also big business, as are cake slices, such as coconut or jelly cake. Sweet potato pies are sold as individual treats, much like the cobblers and banana pudding. It seems as though in some ways, Angelica's is really a throwback to another era.
"We still put the old blood, sweat and tears into it more or less. We still do everything by hand. We've been doing it for 18 years and we do it the fastest and the best I guess," said Stokes.
In addition to the Hazel Crest location, Angelica's also has a full-service bakery on East 87th Street.
17535 S. Kedzie Ave., Hazel Crest
1517 E. 87th St.