Eastsiders rejoice: you no longer have to brave the 10 freeway to enjoy amazing scratch-made sweets. The folks at Vanilla Bake Shop have expanded beyond their Santa Monica and LAX digs with a bright and beautiful space in Old Town Pasadena. The bakery just opened in February and is ready to whip up everything from birthday blowout dream cakes to after school treats and everything in between. Read on for the scoop on our favorite new bakery.

vanilla_lookingphoto: LeTania Kirkland Smith

An Ode To Home
Amy Berman and her husband Jeremy decided that once she finished culinary school he completed law school, they would open up a neighborhood bakery that had a feeling of home. And Vanilla Bake Shop was born in Santa Monica in 2007. The couple credits the memories from their moms’ kitchens for the inspiration at Vanilla. Now a mom herself, Berman is continuing the tradition for her own family and yours.

After 10 years of wild success at their flagship store and a smaller spot at LAX (now you know where to go while you wait for your next flight!), Berman decided it was time to return to Pasadena where she received her training at Le Cordon Bleu and where she repeatedly found herself delivering birthday and wedding cakes on a regular basis. To which Eastsiders said, “bring it, please.”

vanilla_bermanandfamilyphoto: LeTania Kirkland Smith

Craving Cake.  And Cupcake.  And More.
No matter your family’s tastes, there is something to please everyone at Vanilla Bake Shop. These folks pride themselves on using quality products and baking fresh daily. Berman chose the name Vanilla because she considers it a universally loved flavor. With that in mind, she only uses real Madagascar Vanilla Beans in her recipes.

vanilla_cake-popphoto: LeTania Kirkland Smith

Berman offers up classic flavors with innovative twists that hit all the right spots. Right now, classics clearly includes cupcakes. Vanilla has a daily selection of cupcakes with regulars like Vanilla Bean and Southern Red Velvet, as well as rotating daily specials like Spicy Carrot and Meyer Lemon Raspberry. Of course, there are also gorgeous layer cakes available for special occasions (and a special occasion could be that it’s Wednesday and you think the family deserves cake). Vanilla even offers gluten-free varieties. Check their menu for the details.

vanilla_casephoto: LeTania Kirkland Smith

If cake of any size isn’t your thing, never fear because cake is just the beginning. Vanilla offers giant cookies from the chocolate chip variety to the “everything” that is chock full of chocolate chips, coconut, rice cereal, oats and walnuts that are crisp on the outside and dense and chewy on the inside. There are bars (think lemon, caramel or a fudgy brownie that never fails), cheesecakes, pies tarts and ice box desserts, which are dreamy chilled, creamy layers of sweet goodness— just try the Southern Banana Pudding. In keeping with that Le Cordon Bleu training, there are also French macarons for a fancy feeling. And donuts—there are donuts! The most difficult part of your trip will be the deciding. Pssst: Vanilla also serves Stumptown Coffee to meet mama’s caffeination needs. Amen.

Give Your Sweet Tooth a Break
While Vanilla has desserts down pat they aren’t stopping there. If you find your hungry brood needs a little something savory before they hit the sugar, you’re covered. Vanilla offers a variety of sandwiches and has teamed up with Bread Bar to create a menu of artisan toast bar breads to get everyone’s blood sugar stable before diving head first into the sweets.

ophoto: Dave T. via Yelp

The Space
Vanilla Bake Shop’s new location is conveniently located on Colorado Boulevard in the heart of Old Town Pasadena. It is three short blocks from the Memorial Park Gold Line Station and near lots of public parking structures (free for 90 minutes in most) and street parking. The shop is bright and airy, with high ceilings, exposed brick and comfortable banquettes. Much like the desserts served here, the space also offers a classic neighborhood feel with a modern touch. Have a seat, sip a coffee or cocoa and do a little people watching as you enjoy a little down time with your loves. And if they’re a little too amped for your taste afterward, the playground at Memorial Park is just around the corner, to they can sweat out the sugar buzz.

Vanilla Bake Shop
88 E. Colorado Blvd
Online: vanillabakeshop.com

Where do you go for the bestest baked treats?  Let us know in the comment section!

—LeTania Kirkland Smith