Restaurant Review #238: Bread Basket, Camarillo

Bread Basket is a well-known Ventura County bakery that creates sandwiches, breads, pastries, and cakes, including wedding cakes. It was the search for the perfect wedding cake that sent us there after everyone we mentioned wedding cakes to asked us if we had been to Bread Basket.

Bread Basket is known in particular for its fresh fruit cakes that use blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries in the middle layer of filling and on top of the cake. Their fruit basket cake is especially popular, though personally I don't care much for fresh fruit in or on my cake.

It seems like the store is always very busy and crowded. Each of the five or so times we've been, there have been a steady stream of customers, no matter the time of day or day of the week. Part of the reason the store always feels crowded though is because it is so small. Besides having a small space, the store has placed large baskets of bread on the floor, making it difficult to walk all the way up to the counter. Bread Basket also has devoted a corner of the store to selling shelf-stable gourmet foods, which further clutters the space. If you want to enjoy your food there, the only tables are outdoors, facing the parking lot.

All of these things are annoyances, but the cake is so good that they're worth putting up with.

If it's a wedding cake you're looking for, Bread Basket's selection of cake fillings is smaller than most wedding cake vendors. Here are their choices:

Cake flavors: white, chocolate, lemon, carrot, red velvet, banana

Fillings: fruit basket (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, french whipped cream), fresh raspberries and raspberry cream, fresh strawberries and french whipped cream, fresh banana and banana cream, lemon cream, mocha cream, hazelnut cream, german chocolate, vanilla mousse (with optional raspberry puree), chocolate mousse (with optional raspberry puree), amaretto and french whipped cream, Bailey's Irish cream and chocolate mousse, Kahlua with chocolate mousse or mocha cream, dark Myer's rum with choice of french whipped cream or banana and banana cream

They also have cheesecakes, but we didn't try them.

My absolute favorite is the chocolate mousse filling with raspberry puree (photo below). The chocolate mousse filling is has delicate shavings of chocolate that give it some texture and combine a deeper, more bitter chocolate taste with a lighter, creamier chocolate taste. The cake itself doesn't offer anything special in terms of flavor, but it is very moist, unlike many other wedding cakes we sampled.

Chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and raspberry puree filling and buttercream frosting with a white chocolate wrap

The banana cream filling (we opted to leave out the fresh bananas it normally comes with) with dark Meyer's rum it also delicious, but unfortunately it's only available for wedding cakes.

The cakes Bread Basket offers on a daily basis are essentially the same as their wedding cakes. The differences are that there are a few more flavor options for wedding cakes, the wedding cakes have two layers of filling and three layers of cake instead of one layer of filling and two layers of cake, and the wedding cakes must have a special outer coating to keep the cake fresh and intact while it's on display for hours during the wedding reception.

For the outer layer, you can choose fondant (which I didn't like, but then, I never do) or a chocolate or white chocolate wrap. The white chocolate wrap can be made in either ivory or white. Whatever design you want can be piped onto the outside (and yes, it will stick to the chocolate wraps without sliding off). Underneath the outer layer, which only coats the vertical surfaces of the cake, not the horizontal ones, is a thin layer of buttercream frosting. They say that the ivory and white buttercream taste the same, but to me the ivory buttercream had more of a true butter-based buttercream flavor and the white had a more sugary, fake butter flavor. Both were good, but since I don't like super-sweet things, I preferred the ivory buttercream. In fact, one of the selling points of Bread Basket for me was that their cakes aren't super sweet.

At our initial consultation we received, for free, four generous full-sized pieces of cake to taste (which would have cost $20 if we had walked in to buy them). These were the four flavors that they normally carry and sell out of the display case daily--if you want something special from their wedding cake flavor list, you'll need to place a special order well ahead of your consultation. We did feel rushed on the two times we went to Bread Basket to discuss our wedding cake with them--the store is always so busy that it seems like the employees don't have the time to really sit down and discuss cakes with you. After we got a quote for our wedding cake, we surreptitiously ordered a small sample cake a few days later. We wanted to make sure they could get our order right before we committed to a wedding cake.

Bread Basket did get our small order correct. (The two other places we tested made significant mistakes, which was a deal killer.) After a second consultation and lots of questions, we decided to order our wedding cake from them. You don't have to commit until two weeks before the wedding date, and full payment is due at that time. Also, unlike other bakeries, there didn't seem to be any issue with our wedding date filling up with too many orders, so there was no pressure to make a decision quickly.

The wedding cake itself was prepared and delivered according to our order. It ended up costing about $6 per person, which seems to be a pretty average price for the area. We felt that it was a good value for the price because the cake was so good and the serving sizes were generous. We had quite a bit of leftover cake, which we happily took home and ate over the next week. We received numerous compliments from our guests on how good the cake was, including one from our friend's wife who months later got pregnant and said she was craving our wedding cake.

In addition to their generous tasting samples and reasonable prices, if you bring them a photo of your wedding cake on your first anniversary, they will give you a small cake, worth about $30, for free. This means that you don't have to freeze the top layer of your cake if you want to eat your wedding cake on your one-year anniversary--you can get a nice, fresh cake instead.

Bread Basket has an excellent reputation and is always busy for a reason. Their cake is my favorite cake anywhere. It's probably a good thing that I don't live closer to the store or I'd be eating cake every day.

Bread Basket
83 E Daily Dr.
Camarillo, CA 93010
Closed Sunday and Monday
Bread Basket website