And plenty of people find it again and again, since the bakery has been at the location for 13 years. Owners Gail and Greg Sinkovic opened The Cakery doing mostly wedding and custom cakes, but more than a decade later they are going stronger than ever with a wide range of pastries and desserts in addition to the original business.
"We have become much more efficient, and much more capable of producing more than we were in the beginning," Gail Sinkovic said. "We produce more, still keeping the same quality. We can take care of a lot more people than we used to."
Both Sinkovics have a long history in the food business — Gail in hotels in Washington, D.C., and Greg for a caterer in Baltimore. Living in Bowie in the 1990s, they wanted to find a way to work closer to home, and possibly own their own place.
Greg had been trained as a pastry chef, under former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, so they started making wedding cakes out of their home for four years, using the money to buy equipment.
They were finally able to open The Cakery in November 1996 and business picked up so much in the first month that Gail Sinkovic had to quit her full-time job to join her husband at the bakery, she said.
Now, in their modest, clean kitchen, the Sinkovics work with one other full-time employee and a couple of part-timers to produce anywhere from 30 to 50 custom wedding cakes per weekend, in addition to all the other items offered. The bakery's hands-down top-selling item is the visually striking strawberry shortcake ($26): a single-layer fluted yellow cake, brushed with strawberry sauce, filled with an enormous mound of sweet whipped cream studded with sliced fresh strawberries, sprinkled with fresh blueberries and dusted with powdered sugar.
Other specialty cakes include chocolate truffle, lemon-raspberry-white chocolate and carrot, and prices range from $16 for a six-inch round (serving eight) to $165 for a full sheet cake (serving more than 120). Custom cakes can be made with any selection of cake flavors and fillings; the cakes are moist and the icing, an Italian meringue buttercream, is just sweet enough.
Breakfast items are very popular, too, particularly the made-from-scratch croissants ($2.25) — which feature a crispy flaky outside, indulgently soft inside and are delicately sweet throughout, in almond or chocolate, or made into cinnamon raisin buns ($2.50). On Fridays they add in spinach-and-feta croissants ($2.50) and Saturdays — which the Sinkovics say are the busiest — ham-and-cheese croissants ($4.25), as well.
Another customer favorite is the fresh fruit tart ($4.25), generously topped with kiwis, strawberries, blueberries and plump blackberries. Among other desserts, the fall season has just brought in classics like dark, flavorful gingerbread ($2.95) and a unique cranberry linzer tart ($3.25), with a cinnamon-nut crust.
Gail Sinkovic particularly recommends the hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache ($3.95), available year-round. Many of these desserts are displayed in the front case and the selection changes daily, so there's always something new to try on a drop-in visit. And coffee lovers can also buy Seattle's Best coffee at The Cakery, as well as a range of homestyle and fancy tea cookies.
The Sinkovics' passion for baking hasn't diminished over their 13 years in Bowie, despite daily exposure to things like buttercream and chocolate.
"We really enjoy what we do," Gail Sinkovic said. "You've got to really love this business to be in it. It's a lot of long hours; it's a lot of work. It's really a whole family commitment."
6776 Race Track Road, Bowie
Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday
Web site: www.cakerybowie.com