“Let Them Eat Cake” A Tasty Glimpse at How Minnesotans Celebrate

Courtesy Photo

When Becky Xiong left her health care career and opened a Saint Paul bakery, she built the business concept around her Hmong elders, who had no experience with buttercream-frosted birthday and wedding cakes. “Our cake is different from American cake,” explains Xiong. “We don’t use a lot of flour.” At her PaJai Fruit Arrangements and Bakery, sponge cakes are “inspired by French pastries,” and topped and filled with a variety of fruits — mango, kiwi, pineapple, berries. The watermelon image above is from a wedding.

Photo Pixel Dust Photography

At the 73-year-old Woodbury business Dorothy Ann Bakery and Café, Colleen Cicalello has produced cookies for Super Bowl parties (“Go Taylor’s Boyfriend”) and for divorces, vasectomies, and being cancer free. She says cake decorations look more like abstract paintings today than they did in the past, with “smears and watercolor effects.”

Photo Rachel Traxler Photography

Cake art is the specialty at Perfect Piece Sweets Co., based in North Minneapolis, which aims to “redefine old-school desserts.” Owner Melanie Lewis has created culturally significant desserts for Somali and Ethiopian celebrations, and confections for a 15-year-old girl’s quinceañera. Shown above is a Parisian-themed dessert table for a bride who wanted to pay tribute to her Parisian parents.

Photo Dulce Calderon

At Brick Oven Bakery in Northfield, fruitcake-like breads are popular among the town’s Latine population for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in November and Three Kings Day in January. Rosca de Reyes is a soft, rich bread offered for Three Kings Day, celebrating the three wise men of the Bible story. It contains a baby Jesus figurine in the dough.