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Cake Fight

Welcome to the best taste test ever. Our chief dining critic, Jeff Ruby, sat down with his three kids—Hannah (11), Max (9), and Avi (4)—in an attempt to find Chicago’s finest birthday cake. The results? Very messy.

Video: Shane Collins

Peanut Butter

West Town Bakery & Diner
1916 W. Chicago Ave. and15 E. Ohio St., westtownbakery.com
$32 for six-inch round cake
Peanut Butter cake
The Critic The Kids
Lovely and moist. It’s got a glorious thin layer of peanut butter.
     
Max: It smells good at the bottom.
     

Salted Caramel

Vanille
See vanillepatisserie.com for locations.
$37 for six-inch round cake
Salted Caramel cake
The Critic The Kids
The ratio of icing to cake is huge. But the buttercream frosting is barely identifiable as salted caramel.
     
Hannah: It’s a light, fluffy, gentle cake. Cakes have emotions. I expected this to be more playful.
Avi: I like gentle cakes.
     

Vanilla

Mariano’s
See marianos.com for locations.
$13 for eight-inch round cake
Vanilla cake
The Critic The Kids
There is a weird salt taste. It’s a little off-putting. And this frosting. It’s like a Smurf coughed something up and put it on a cake.
     
Avi: Pleh. I don’t like the frosting.
Hannah: I smell Play-Doh. Is that just me?
     

Rainbow

Bake
2246 W. North Ave., getbakedchicago.com
$35 for six-inch round cake
Rainbow cake
The Critic The Kids
It looks amazing. Like a sugar bomb. Turns out it’s more buttery than sweet. But I like the crunch from the sprinkles.
     
Hannah: No. With the sprinkles it’s too crunchy. It’s too unbalanced.
Max: Every color tastes the same. But I’d pick it for my birthday.
     

Cookie Dough

Molly’s Cupcakes
2536 N. Clark St. and 419 E. Illinois St., mollyscupcakes.com
$32 for six-inch round cake
Cookie Dough cake
The Critic The Kids
If you’re the kind of person who likes to lick the beaters when you make cookies, this is heaven.
     
Hannah: Putting cookie dough in a cake is ingenious. But it can get really trippy. It’s a fine line, you know.
Avi: I love this cake, and I love myself!
     

Red Velvet

Fabiana’s Bakery
5655 S. University Ave., fabianasbakery.com
$35 for six-inch round cake
Red Velvet cake
The Critic The Kids
This icing is perfect. Really spot-on. Is it cooked roux or cream cheese?
     
Max: The frosting doesn’t taste like cream cheese. Then again, I don’t eat cream cheese. Except on a bagel.
Hannah: Great cake.
Avi: It tastes like raspberries.
     

Sheet

Jewel-Osco
See jewelosco.com for locations.
$35 for half a cake
Sheet cake
The Critic The Kids
Typical oversweet grocery store sheet cake. Wow, this is so moist someone should call a plumber. And I still eat every bite.
     
Max: It tasted better than my sheets.
     

Layer

Deerfields Bakery
See deerfieldsbakery.com for locations.
$21 for eight-inch round cake
Layer cake
The Critic The Kids
The top looks like a bridal bouquet at a wedding I’d never be invited to. The vanilla layer overwhelms the chocolate.
     
Max: If I was at a birthday party, I’d only eat a quarter of a piece.
     

Snickerdoodle

Sweet Mandy B’s
1208 W. Webster Ave., sweetmandybs.com
$26 for six-inch round cake
Snickerdoodle cake
The Critic The Kids
Ooh, three layers. And it’s really nuanced, just a whisper of cinnamon.
     
Hannah: I’d want this at my birthday party. But it’s so boring to look at.
Max: Who cares what it looks like? You eat it.
     
Max, Hannah, and Avi  Photos: Dave Rentauskas
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