WESTERN-STYLE cakes and pastries are increasingly popular in China for all kinds of celebrations, including birthdays and weddings.
Most cakes, however, tend to be pretty much the same. They're round, there's a lot of white sponge cake, sugary white cream (often tasteless) and chocolate. They are often topped with fruit, decorations and chocolate shavings. Though they may be well baked and attractive, there's nothing really too exciting about them - you can find them everywhere.
At a time when many young people want to express their individuality, they are also looking for special and unique cakes for special occasions. A couple may want a wedding cake that says something about them, their personalities and goals - no typical bride and groom figurines. Cakes can be wildly imaginative in shape, color, theme, decoration and ingredients.
Here are a few cake hot spots that specialize in custom-made, often fanciful confections that are works of art as well as taste.
This luxury cake maker is named for its original 21 classic cake styles, and it now offers more than 30 in a range of flavors, styles and colors. Natural ingredients are sourced from around the world, including cream from New Zealand, chocolate from Belgium, hazelnut from Turkey, morello cherries from America and Irish cream from Ireland.
Creativity is the basic ingredient, whether it's chocolate cake, cheesecake, cream mouse cake, sugar-free cake or ice cream cake. You can order a different cake for every day of the month.
Different cake styles are also designed for different seasons. In winter, three signature cakes are recommended: the Silent Night with alcohol, black chocolate, cream and pine nuts; the Blue Monday made of blueberries, cream, cheese and lemon; and the Mango Jerry, a mousse cake made of mango, cream and white chocolate.
Customers can order by phone or from the website. Delivery within the Out-Ring Road is free. Orders must be placed at least five hours ahead of delivery.
Inspired by Japanese animation and cartoon characters, creative Pony cakes range in shape and color from Hello Kitty and Doraemon to little ponies and toy cars. There's also series of romance and wedding cakes.
The nine branches in Shanghai all use highest quality ingredients.
Delivery service is available. Orders must be placed at last 24 hours in advance.