the food guy

The Food Guy: Mini loaf cakes steal the show at Pookie Crack Cakes in Bronzeville

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A Bronzeville cake shop is creating a buzz, regularly causing long lines before opening.

It was a pandemic project that forced the owner to shrink the size of her bundt cakes, and now they fly out the door the day they’re made.

Bundt cakes are pretty large, and during the pandemic, people wanted comfort, but not so much cake all at once. So tweaking the recipe, and the pans they were baked in made all the difference for one entrepreneur, who is now up to her elbows, baking hundreds of cakes a day.

If you want one of the cakes, you better abide by the rules.

Simmons’ great grandmother from Louisiana used to make “crack” cakes for her when she was a kid, which is how Pookie Crack Cakes was born. The brick-and-mortar store on 47th Street is less than a year old.

“When a bundt cake forms, it forms cracks at the top when it’s done. And all you’re doing is poking holes into that cake. Traditionally, you would pour your rum glaze all into the cracks and holes of that cake.”

But Simmons realized during the pandemic, full bundt cakes were too large, so she and her husband Doug started experimenting with smaller pans.

“During the pandemic, I started doing the mini-loaves. My signature cake is the butter pecan praline,” she said.

Now she’s up to eight or nine flavors a day, with options like caramel, strawberry lemonade, red velvet and Oreo; the latter of which gets a whipped cream frosting topped off with a trio of Oreos. On the day we visited, it happened to be a peach cobbler day, which is probably why we kept seeing people show up just after 10 a.m. to get a number. That tells them where they’ll be in line later, when the doors open at 11. 

“We do slice a little bit of the top off so we can put the delicious peaches and cobbler sauce on top of it,” said Simmons.

On a typical day, they’ll sell between 550 and 600 cakes, thanks to word of mouth and social media. That’s a lot of sugar and butter. As for that unique business name?

“Pookie is just a cute nickname that you give somebody that you care about, that you love," she said.

To get a cake, best to come around 10 a.m. to get a number, that will allow you to come back in when the line begins forming at 10:55 a.m. If you don’t abide by this rule, you’re probably not going to get a cake. And if you do get in, make sure to try the original – the butter pecan praline.

Here's where you can go:

Pookie Crack Cakes

105 E. 47th St.

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