Almanac

Community - November 16, 2011

Sweet treats abound at Angel Heart Cakes

by Jane Knoerle

Opening a bakery is no cakewalk. Just ask Chris Rivera and Debbie Umphreys. Since these Menlo Park moms launched Angel Heart Cakes bakery at Marsh Manor in Redwood City in February, they've been working "sometimes 12 hours a day, six days a week," says Debbie. "We do it all — bake, wash floors, do the dishes."

The hard work is paying off. Their luscious creations, featuring angel food cakes in many flavors, are now "must haves" for local events, including a recent foundation benefit at the Menlo Circus Club, and the Sacred Heart Schools fashion show. The bakery is making 1,500 cupcakes for a series of American Girl Doll teas in Los Altos in November.

Both Debbie and Chris had been part of the business world before founding Angel Heart Cakes two years ago. They had also devoted years to raising children and taking part in their school activities. Both women were ready to explore new business opportunities.

Debbie was known for the angel food cakes she baked for friends, using a treasured family recipe. Since both women were talented cooks, baking cakes commercially seemed a promising idea.

In the beginning, they baked their cakes at Studio Cakes in Menlo Park. Now with their own space at Marsh Manor, they have expanded their offerings to include brownies (filled with Nutella, caramel, mint or peanut butter), pocket pies filled with seasonal fruit, dacquoise cakes (custom order), whipped cream puddings, scones, and caramel bars.

The bakery occupies 1,500 square feet of space in the newly-remodeled shopping center at 3760 Florence St. off Marsh Road in Redwood City. Five hundred feet is devoted to retail sales; the kitchen encompasses 1,000 square feet. The work space was designed by Chris Rivera's husband, Ed, a structural engineer.

The women are also renting kitchen space to local vendors who include:

• Indelisa Montoro, a floral designer with a shop at Allied Arts Guild (Royal Bloom), who makes and sells "couture" jam at the bakery.

• Brian Tedrun of Ladera, who just launched a new granola company, Ladera Granola.

• Molly Drewes, who makes Organika, fresh pressed juices with kale, fruit and greens.

Now serving breakfast

Angel Heart Cakes is not only the place for an afternoon sweet. The bakery now serves breakfast "on-the-go" or on the outdoor patio from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

House-baked goodies include pocket pies, scones, and quick breads. Other offerings include an egg dish with vegetables and cheese, and a classic strada. Granola, made with flax seed, almonds and cranberries, is served with yogurt. Coffee, tea, and Organika juices are also available.

The bakery shares retail space with Queen Bee ice cream, which features Marianne's Ice Cream from Santa Cruz. The ice cream business is owned by husband and wife team Ken and DeAndra Aslund of Redwood City.

Angel Heart Cakes are also available at Bianchini's, Roberts of Woodside, and Signona's markets in Redwood City and Palo Alto.

Despite their long hours and hard work, Chris and Debbie are enthusiastic about their new venture and look forward to the holiday season when they promise some exciting new tastes as well as their popular peppermint cake made with flakes of peppermint candy.

Visit AngelHeartCakes.com for more information. The Angel Heart Cakes bakery, located at 3760 Florence St. in Redwood City, is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. It is closed on Sunday and Monday.

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