HYPERBOLIC REFERENCES TO de Beauvoir’s “I do not accept the finite” and Mandelbrot’s “a fractal is a way of seeing infinity” are inescapable when it comes to the new venture from Good Day Donut co-owners Alison Odowski and Erik Jackson. Given their current shop’s dinner events (including a parking lot pig roast, a lasagna dinner with housemade pasta and a Polish-American feast), the extensive pop-ups (generally featuring desserts made by Odowski, with Jackson contributing to the savory side), Fritter Fridays that showcase one-off flavors like banana, roasted plum, orange marmalade or pineapple jalapeño, and a standard menu encompassing everything from spicy meat subs to tender, vegan raised doughnuts, I expect to be forgiven.
With such infinite delights contained in a single doughnut shop, it’s no surprise that Odowski says, “We have very loose, beautifully fuzzy plans” for the second location. It’s not entirely a doughnut shop, although it includes a commissary kitchen for wholesale doughnuts, and “a nice, curated selection of doughnuts” in the case. Its name is Cakes + Trees, but those loose plans already encompass a multitude.
“We see Cakes + Trees as a spot we both get to express exactly who we are through our food and more, with a walk-up cake counter in a lobby full of trees that are available for purchase.” It sounds quirky and simple — cake and trees, how nice — until Odowski bubbles over with the menu plans: “We also have take-away breakfast and lunch, like grab ‘n’ go sandwiches. This is where Chef Erik gets to really do his thing. I have the perfect trifle serving dish — it’s gotta be in the cake case. Look for tarts, cookies, brownies, blondies, bars, cakes, turnovers, pies, cobblers, puddings, muffins, biscuits, and don’t forget pralines, caramels, brittles, caramel-covered marshmallows and fudge. And, oh boy, wait until the holidays come around, and we have divinity and things we only make and eat once a year … or maybe we won’t wait until the holidays?” My bet is that they will not wait until the holidays.
Odowski is the first to admit it’s a lot. It’s hard for those outside the industry to comprehend the recent realities of restaurant ownership, but amid those challenges, this pair has routinely delivered on both creativity and comfort. Expect all that she mentions, but also expect change.
“This space will eventually transition into a lovely little lunch, perhaps dinner, spot and definitely a private dining room — Erik gets excited about this. Trees will always be a part of the dining room. But we are giving ourselves time to wrangle wholesale doughnuts, and having a cake counter and a tree shop … on top of Good Day. The pivoting will happen organically — we are in no rush to push things post-COVID.”
Odowski’s childhood in Central Florida is an inescapable influence on both the trees and the cakes. One grandma had a guava tree, the other a pomegranate tree; she picked pecans for her mom from a tree at her school. A trained florist and a private chef, Odowski says she “took shelter in cooking during the pandemic, feeling surrounded and supported by my mom, grandmothers and aunties.” She is as comfortable suggesting trees for apartment dwellers as she is baking cake.
Don’t expect what she calls “fancy, super-decorated, wowzer-piping-skilled, mega-tiered cakes.” Instead, you’ll find homey comforts with a combined Midwestern/Southern influence, like lemon velvet (a tender, buttermilk lemon layer cake with cream cheese frosting), and banana snacking cake with sea salt caramel glaze. While Odowski and Jackson are generally not cupcake fans (“They usually leave us baffled and underwhelmed”), look for one based on Detroit bumpy cake, a deep chocolate cake topped with fat stripes of vanilla buttercream and chocolate glaze.
Cake pops are the only sweet out of dozens we discussed to meet with absolute rejection. And, as Mandelbrot would have appreciated, infinity minus one remains infinite.
About Cakes + Trees
Address: 509 13th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122
Hours: Temporary hours, with planned expansion later this summer, are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays.