CakeBar & Bakery specializes in cinnamon rolls, croissants, cakes, cupcakes and other pastries
Sarah Lemon/Mel Tribune’s veggie sandwich is served on freshly baked focaccia at Cake Bar in Medford.
The Sarah Lemon/Mill Tribune House potato salad was a recent side option with the chicken salad sandwich at Medford Cake Bar.
The Sarah Lemon/Mill Tribune Broccoli Salad was a recent side option at Medford Cake Bar.
Sarah Lemon/The Mail Tribune The red velvet cupcake was a sweet modern option with Medford Cake Bar’s “Lunch Box.”
Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune A slice of lemon loaf was a sweet modern option with the “lunch box” at Cake Bar Medford.
Sarah Lemon/Mail Tribune An entire order of homemade biscuits and gravy costs $8 at Medford Cake Bar.
Sarah Lemon / Mill Tribune Cinnamon Rolls are a signature ingredient in Medford Cake Bar.
More sweet and savory than its name suggests awaits at West Medford Bakery.
CakeBar & Bakery opened in late October on West McAndrews-style serving mix-and-match cake pans with choices of frosting and other garnishes. But owner chef Cassie Leland is hard-pressed to keep up with the demand for her signature donuts, brownies, croissants, and cinnamon rolls. It’s not unusual for a bakery that opens at 7 a.m. to sell its most popular items by 10 a.m.
So Leland fined the deal for latecomers and started serving lunch last month. The selection is small – a couple of sandwiches and a couple of sides – but Leyland ups the quality. And it’s hard to beat the pricing of their “lunch box,” which includes a sandwich, sides, and dessert for $12. Bottled and canned drinks are available from $2 to $2.75.
The promise of pea, fennel, and feta sugars dressed in a passion fruit concoction drew me to CakeBar on a weekday for the much-anticipated ladies’ lunch date. I knew a veggie sandwich at Leyland would please my sister who prefers snacks. And I treat myself to the classic chicken salad on a croissant, the other day’s choice.
Unfortunately, Leland explained, there was a small disaster at the Croissant Cake Bar earlier that day. She had a fresh batch in the oven, but it wouldn’t be ready for at least 20 minutes if we were to wait. With errands to do after lunch, my sister and I agreed to sample freshly baked Focaccia Leyland chicken salad. Planning to split each sandwich and share both sides, we ordered one of each.
We were hoping our instructions were loose – we didn’t care which salad came with which sandwich – but both dishes came with potato salad. To make it clear that we want to try the other salad, Leland said it only needs a few minutes to mix it up.
It’s worth explaining to potential customers that CakeBar is basically a one-woman show. Leland’s teenage daughter offers some help at the table, but it’s primarily Leland’s hands that are in every item.
Leland has baked professionally on and off for more than 20 years, and planted the CakeBar concept from Silverton, where she worked for less than a year before her family moved to Rogue Valley. Before she could outfit her own storefront — bright turquoise — Leland sold baked goods at Central Point’s Pine Street Marketplace and The Palms Cafe.
About her history as a baker — a profession she found at age 10 — Leland says, “I can’t bake. I love it so much!”
With a demeanor as sweet as her recipes, Leyland entertains regular customers and makes newcomers feel right at home. Even Leyland’s Potato Salad reminded us of my mom.
By combining tender, thin-skinned red potatoes with plenty of hard-boiled eggs, the chef keeps the other ingredients finely chopped and the seasonings decidedly salty and flavorful, bright with fresh dill. The recipe was just the way I like it – without any trace of the sweet pickle taste that some people prefer. My sister warmly agreed.
The vegetable sandwich, supervised by Leyland, is flawlessly fresh and distilled for its essential ingredients. Layering crunchy tomatoes and cucumbers with just the right amount of alfalfa sprouts and a leafy green lettuce, the sandwich gets richness from a juicy layer of cream cheese and a slice of pepper jack. We ordered sliced red onion on the side.
The cheese-enriched bread was, in and of itself, so fresh, bland, and so pleasingly flavorful that any combination of ingredients would suffice. However, Leland’s was the best cold veggie sandwich I’ve ever eaten and it didn’t rely on tofu, tempeh, or some other alternative protein. I surprised myself and ate lettuce.
Although I felt a slight ache from the chicken sandwich croissant, I still enjoyed helping out another focaccia. The Leyland Chicken Salad was also impressed by the finely chopped lighter complements, with the exception of whole green grapes mixed with large chunks of chicken.
By the time the side salad arrived, we were almost done, but Leland carefully delivered a double portion in an outside food container. One look revealed it wasn’t the snap peas, as advertised, but broccoli florets and raisins in a sweet, creamy sauce. I took it home with a lunchbox dessert: a red velvet cupcake and a slice of lemon loaf.
We promised my sons Saturday pastries, and we came back the following week in time for the final portion of Leyland’s popular Biscuits and Gravy. Priced at $8, the large order of two whole biscuits, split and dipped in homemade sausage gravy I fed me and two young kids with the addition of a huge cinnamon bun ($5) dipped in frosting. Biscuits with gravy also cost $5.
It’s hard to innovate with American staples like crackers and gravy. But my boys and I loved the hint of green chile in the Leyland version, a little spicy without detracting from the flavor of the dish.
Although the consistency was just right, we would have liked the broth – ladle from the slow cooker on the work surface – a little hotter. We’ll be planning a return visit when the cinnamon rolls are hot out of the oven.
CakeBar is located at 915 W. McAndrews Road and is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. See facebook.com/Cakebarandbakery and follow @cakebarandbakery on Instagram for list updates.
Reach out to Feature Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4494 or [email protected]