Cake Eaters, Cake Makers

Sweet missionaries. Edina's cake makers, and the cake eaters who love them.
"I really like carrot cake," says Edina mayor Jim Hoveland (pictured here with Terri Leckas, owner of Queen of Cakes). "But I've never been offered any kind of cake that I didn't like."

Everyone likes cake. Edinans are no different, and we’re blessed with two exceptional cake-makers, Sweet Retreat and Queen of Cakes. These bakeries are as passionate about their craft as they are about the community they serve. (Another sweets oasis, Patrick’s Bakery, is featured in our Best Of Edina feature on page 34) These homegrown shops know that the joy of cake is a simple and infectious force of good in the world. Theirs is a sweet mission.   SWEET RETREAT Baking was always a passion for Robin Johnson, owner of Sweet Retreat. She majored in home economics and food science at the University of Wisconsin and began her career at Pillsbury. While visiting her daughter in San Francisco, she stopped at a coffee shop and sampled a red velvet cupcake. Johnson was struck by how happy everyone in the shop looked. “I can do this,” she thought. “I want to create this kind of feel-good atmosphere.” So she opened Sweet Retreat in April 2010. Every cupcake and cake is baked from scratch each day. The store has expanded over two storefronts; one side is for decorating and baking, the other is a retail and display area serving coffee and tea drinks. The team includes two bakers, four pastry chefs and one wedding consultant. Sweet Retreat was voted the top cupcake shop in the Twin Cities last year by City Pages.    What’s the best part of your work? Robin Johnson: People are so happy when they pick up their cakes.  They’re usually celebrating something and looking forward to coming in here, so I’m always around people who are celebrating something good. What’s your most unusual flavor?  We created a strawberry balsamic for the TV show Cupcake Wars on the Food Network that was well-received by judges and became our No. 1 seller. The balsamic [jra2] is mixed with fresh strawberries to make a strawberry balsamic jam filling. It has whipped mascarpone cheese topping with a drizzle of balsamic on top. 5013 France Ave S  Minneapolis, MN 612.353.6230   QUEEN OF CAKES “Cakes are my way to connect with the world,” says Terry Leckas. The owner of Queen of Cakes bakery had no formal training; she learned her craft on the job while working at a grocery store bakery 25 years ago. “It was the only place in town where you could buy a pound of hamburger, a bra and a shotgun all in one trip!” Friends asked Leckas to make cakes so often that she decided to launch it as a business venture. “This was before the advent of the Internet and the Food Network, so it’s been interesting to see how those things have impacted our business,” she says. Leckas cherishes the close relationships she has fostered with the community. “Our customers know what they want, and we stay in close touch with them. We cherish walk-ins and phone calls. Our role is to serve. Cakes are my way to do that.” What is your most popular flavor? Our most popular is white cake with triple berry mousse and raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Our sleeper flavor is lemon cake. You think you don’t want to try it but when you do you, you’ll love it. It has a raspberry mousse filling and it tastes like raspberry lemonade 7104 Amundson Ave. Edina, Mn  Edina Crowd Perspectives on Cake: “My favorite cake in Edina has got to be the coo coo for coconut cupcake from Sweet Retreat! Anything with coconut in it ‘takes the cake!’ ” —Megan Couture, 11th grade, Zephyrus reporter, Edina High School “I would say my favorite cake is carrot cake, but I also like spice cake.” —Jim Hovland, mayor of Edina “My mom made the greatest cakes in her Bundt pan—tunnel of fudge, lemon poppyseed, chocolate macaroon. Little did I know then the pan was made by Nordic Ware, founded by Dave and Dorothy Dalquist of Edina. My daughter and I have continued the tradition of baking Bundt cakes together.”— Marci Matson, executive director, Edina Historical Society