The Food Guy: Cake 'N Bake

A French pastry school graduate offering her community a taste of what she has found in other cities and adding her own twist to them.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Drive down Harlem Avenue, through Chicago's Southwest Side, and you’ll encounter dozens of Middle Eastern restaurants and bakeries.

While those 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 down to Palos Hills, most bakeries along South Harlem Avenue have plenty of baklava and kunefa. But a French pastry school grad decided to shake things up a bit, by offering her community a taste of what she has found in other cities and adding her own twist to them.

Looks can be deceiving at Cake ‘N Bake, a tidy bakery in a non-descript Palos Hills strip mall. You could swear they’re filling donuts; they’re not. Passionfruit, mango and raspberry are layered with almond cake, in a treat no more than four bites across. Even the series of mousse cakes is beguiling, some “painted” in chocolate or coffee.

“I wanted to have something that I would love to see in any store I wanna go to; I wanna try something new,” said Wasfia Shalabi, the owner of Cake ‘N Bake.

And so after a trip to New York, where she saw rolled croissants, she figured out how to make them. Dough is laminated with layers of butter, just like a croissant, but then rolled, stuffed like a filled donut or a paczek, then topped with echoes of the filling.

“We have the pistachio, hazelnut, Lotus Biscoff, chocolate topped with Nutella and strawberry cheesecake,” she said.

Puff pastries resemble giant ice cream cones, but they’re not.

“Custard and fruit on top, the other one is chocolate and Nutella with a Ferrero,” said Shalabi.

One of the pastry chefs works on a special mousse cake they call “banoffee.”

“Banana, toffee and chocolate mousse on top...”

Meanwhile, her coffee mousse is downright stunning. It looks like an enormous coffee bean, but eats like a sweet, soft cloud.

“It has a chocolate sponge, with a chocolate crunchy and hazelnut, we have coffee crème brulee and coffee mousse on top,” she said.

Pistachios play an important role in the kitchen, not just in the rolled croissants, but also the cheesecake.

“White chocolate, pistachio, and we put our pistachio paste on top and decorate it,” said Shalabi.

And decoration seems to be the common thread here. A simple tart is elevated by a dome-shaped mousse cake.

 “That’s a vanilla strawberry mousse cake, and we put it on top of a fruit tart, which has a strawberry tart and custard.”

Shalabi says customers are intrigued by her creations. Most of which they’ve never seen before.

“And they want to try everything,” she said.

Here's where you can go:

Cake N’ Bake

10456 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Hills


Contact Us