Looking for something to make your child's birthday feel extra special this year? If you're scaling down the festivities, it's the perfect time to go big on the cake. With that in mind, we’ve scoured the five boroughs to find the New York City bakeries crafting the most mind-blowing confections.
These birthday cakes are scene-stealers in their own right and pair with whatever party you've got planned, from alfresco celebrations in local parks and playgrounds to social-distancing ready soirees and simple at-home shin-digs.
Whether you want a twist on a classic birthday cake, gluten-free goodies, or a sculpted replica of your child's favorite character, there's something for everyone in this delicious roundup of New York City bakeries and cake studios.
Devour the brightly-hued rainbow cake from Baked for a colorful birthday party treat.
Baked – Red Hook, Brooklyn
Delivery: Delivery is available throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and sometimes beyond.
Retail: This location serves breakfast, lunch, and lots of sweets.
While Baked offers only classic, three-layer, round cakes, there are plenty of ways to dress them up. Your birthday boy or girl can choose from a selection of unique chocolate transfers—from Spiderman to Hello Kitty—and add colorful touches such as polka dots and sprinkles. Guests young and old are sure to love the not-so-classic, but not-too-crazy flavor combinations, too, like caramel apple, cookies n' cream, and winter mint. For a traditional show-stopper, opt for its best-selling rainbow sprinkle-covered, very vanilla sprinkle cake.
BCakeNY – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Delivery: Local delivery is available every day within NYC. Special delivery as far as the Hamptons, upstate New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut is also often available.
Retail: Yes, cookies, cupcakes, and cake jars are available for purchase.
Although this beloved local bakery is a go-to for celebrities with its designs inspired by the diverse people and cultures of Brooklyn, you can score a cake for your party too! $199 gets you a 6-inch kids cake with 2D edible images and an acrylic number topper. You can also choose your own theme, colors, design, and flavor. The best part? Thematic custom kids cake orders are turned around within 24-48 hours.
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You can't go wrong with the Cat in the Hat cake from City Cakes.
Delivery: Cakes can be delivered throughout the tristate area.
Retail: While there is no retail seating, you can grab sweet treats on the go. Consultations and tastings are available but must be scheduled in advance.
Specializing in three-dimensional sculpted creations, creative fondant techniques, sugar work, and buttercream, City Cakes knows how to turn children's dreams into edible art. Its character cakes are incredible, whether your child wants Chase from Paw Patrol, Olaf from Frozen, the Cat in the Hat, or other popular characters. If you’re looking for a birthday cake alternative, its personalized cupcakes and half-pound cookies are a big hit.
Delivery: Delivery is available throughout New York City as well as parts of Long Island.
Retail: No, but you can schedule tastings and consultations at the Maspeth studio.
The former executive pastry chef of NYC’s Capitale, Sabine Garrido, cranks out seriously extravagant creations at A Love for Cakes. With a focus on quality ingredients, delicious flavor combinations, and exquisite designs, her fun, colorful sculpted cakes are as delicious as they are over-the-top. Choose from eight different flavors, including red velvet and banana, and 14 different fillings, like chocolate pudding and cannoli cream.
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Order a custom cake from Clementine, which offers dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free options.
Delivery: Most of Brooklyn and Manhattan by courier. Contact Clementine to find out if you're in the delivery zone.
Retail: It offers a daily menu of organic, vegan treats, and beverages.
If you’re following certain dietary restrictions, Clementine Bakery has got your cake needs covered. All of its baked goods are dairy-free and made with all-natural, organic ingredients. Plus, it is gluten-conscious. In addition to its custom cakes, it offers a selection of pies that can be prepared gluten-free and soy-free.
Monster truck fans will flip for this cake from Conti's.
Delivery: Delivery and shipping options are available.
Retail: Yes. You can even enjoy the bakery's original marble soda fountain installed in 1928.
This bakery opened its doors in 1921 and quickly became a neighborhood favorite, cranking out Italian and French pastries and elaborate wedding cakes. The shop still uses many of the original recipes but has added its own touch of innovation to its special-occasion cakes. From emoji-covered confections to treats topped with Mickey Mouse ears, kids and adults will be blown away by these handcrafted creations.
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Kids will be floored by the amazing unicorn cake from Flour Shop.
Retail: Cakes for sale daily, as well as pizza cookies, cake balls, cake pops, and hot beverages.
“Sprinkles & Smiles!” is the welcome you will receive when you visit this Soho bakery—home of the colorful rainbow explosion cake. Flour-ist Amirah Kassem also serves up a unicorn cake, chocolate chip pancake cake, and the "bagel and lox" cake.
The funfetti cake from Milk Bar is a staple in NYC.
Milk Bar – Multiple Locations
Delivery: Cakes can be delivered throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn by courier. UPS shipping is also available.
Retail: Visit any of its locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn for to-go sweets and a selection of cakes.
Milk Bar’s iconic “naked cakes,” which feature unfrosted sides, are a party staple in New York City and beyond. Choose from fixed flavor options, including its famous funfetti birthday cake, plus red velvet, chocolate, and more.
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Sugar Monster Sweets specializes in custom-cake designs, such as this Wonder Woman cake.
Delivery: Delivery is available throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Orders can be picked up at its kitchen.
Retail: There is no storefront for this Brooklyn studio that books up with orders months in advance.
Ashley Holt is the cake genius behind Sugar Monster’s custom confections. She is a winner of TLC’s Next Great Baker, as well as a Food Network Chopped Champion (no big deal, right?). From towering, candy-covered creations dripping in icing to jaw-dropping cakes decked out with Shopkins and Power Rangers, all of her sweets are baked from scratch using high-quality, fresh ingredients. You can trust these bad boys taste as good as they look.
Ice cream cakes are the specialty at Sundaes and Cones, including this fun Hello Kitty design.
Delivery: No. All cakes need to be picked up at its Manhattan storefront.
Retail: The ice cream parlor is open year-round and offers takeout and some outdoor seating.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream (cake). While Sundaes and Cones doesn’t offer completely custom ice cream cakes, it does have a large selection of designs from which to choose, including kid favorites such as Winnie the Pooh, Super Mario Brothers, and Dora the Explorer. All creations contain the shop’s homemade, delicately churned ice cream and are frosted with finely whipped cream. Non-fat and no-sugar-added options are available.
Delivery: There is no delivery of custom cakes at this time; orders must be picked up.
Retail: Both locations are currently open for walk-in orders.
Started as an at-home business, this now world-famous bakery honors the Southern baking traditions of its matriarch, Josephine Smith. Known for its red velvet cake, this sweet spot offers so much more from German chocolate cake to a local favorite: sweet potato cheesecake. If you're looking for a sweet treat other than cakes and cupcakes, you can also pre-order cookies, sweet potato and lemon meringue pies, and apple turnovers for pick up or delivery.
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Crafting the topper on a Star Wars cake at Sweet Sweet Sue's.
Delivery: Yes, available for all cakes.
Retail: No. Free consultations are available by appointment.
Family-owned and operated, Sweet Sweet Sue’s is known for custom confections and top-notch service. Free consultations are available to potential clients—a major perk—and the resident designer will sketch your dream dessert based on any ideas, photos, or inspiration you bring. Birthday boys and girls not interested in a tiered cake can opt for a themed cupcake tower topped with a wow-worthy mini-cake. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.
There Should Always Be Cake's elegant mermaid cake works just as well for a baby shower, princess party, or under-the-sea-themed birthday bash.
Delivery: Curbside delivery is available, with additional help offered for cakes requiring on-site assembly. Long-distance delivery is an option depending on availability.
Retail: Freshly baked on-the-go treats can be purchased at the bakeshop. Consultations are by appointment only.
Chef Laury’s expertly sculpted cakes have a unique elegance, no matter the design, which is sure to captivate kids and wow adults. Her mermaid-themed cakes are magical, and her storybook-inspired designs featuring classics such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Alice in Wonderland are beyond beautiful. For a sweet alternative, the shop offers exquisite cupcakes and cookies perfect for any birthday party.
Photos courtesy of the bakeries
A version of this post was published in 2018; it has been updated.