Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Wimp's Southern Style Bakery
Harlem, NYC

Review by Diana, MaceVindaloo

When we got there, we were horrified to see a burnt-out building with a sign saying, "Wimp's Bakery is OPEN!" But it's boarded up! Wah, we had been looking forward to visiting this southern-style bakery which is reputed to make the best coconut cakes in true southern style — cakes bigger than garbage can lids and feeding 30 to 50 people! Imagine HUGE slices for about $3 ... I LOVE coconut cake!

Good thing we went across the street to read the sign more closely ... yes, Wimp's had been devastated by fire, but they were determined to rebuild, but in the meantime they'd rented a tiny pizza parlor (not even half a store front!) that had last sold fried chicken from it's two-fat-person-wide shoplette (no longer than maybe 6 fatties side by side ... or front to back ... doesn't really matter with fatties, eh?). And the behemoth cakes were there! How did they do it?? They admitted to cooking in the pizza oven in the back of the little space. Wow, that's commitment! As proof that they were the "real" Wimp's, they had recovered their sidewalk shingle, complete with scorch marks.

People walked in to pick up their orders for engagement parties, baby showers, even a wedding. The things were weighty, the crumb of the cake was dense and moist, not crumbly. There wasn't tons of icing on top or in between the layers, which is a great thing. Many cakes have way too much (inferior) icing on the (inferior) cake. When everything is great, balance is important for the quintessential experience. Even in a pizza oven and a tiny counter for pizza cutting, they respect the tradition. (Pizza ovens run hotter than normal ovens, and the product is placed directly on the over floor instead of on a rack for gentler cooking ... bet it took a while to figure out the ins and outs of that.)

I bought so much cake — many, many slices of the so-called German chocolate cake (a buttermilk chocolate layer cake with caramelized canned milk topping with coconut and pecans), which is an American cake named for Sam German, who created a mild baking chocolate for Baker's Chocolate Co... which is why the green-colored box is called "Baker's German's Chocolate Cake" NOT German Chocolate Cake. It's not German, okay ... duh, right? (Some Germans don't know that either ... I know an old German woman who insists her mother made this cake before the war. She's lying, of course — the recipe wasn't published till 1957! But it's a good cake.)

Anyway, I also bought a yellow cake with pineapples in it and a boiled coconut icing. I don't like pineapples, but this cake was great. Like I said, bought so much, I had to wrap and freeze the slices and there were fantastic four months later after defrosting to room temperature. I'll need to collect more cake next time I make it up to Harlem on 125th St., down the street from the building Bill Clinton has his offices.

We also got the banana pudding because we'd heard it was great, and the sweet potato pie. Both were way sweet ... and the banana pudding was frickin' awesome! It really was sweet though — get the smaller one or your teeth will rot immediately but your guts will be preserved by the sugar content. The sweet potato pie is legendary, but it was sweet potato pie ... we aren't aficionados, but having tried the best, we feel we can confidently say that we don't want no inferior stinkin' sweet potato pie from anyone else!

We don't know when Wimp's will be back up to full production, but they did schlep the piecases from the burned out place to the ex-pizza parlor. So shop with confidence, and if you're lucky, you'll spot the ex-Pres in line for his southern faves, too! (He was having bypass surgery that week, we're sure he had some Wimp's items before going under that knife, for good measure, just in case! Don't want to meet the grim reaper having eaten too little good cake and pie and pudding in this life.)

Why is the place called Wimp's? Well, their motto is "Just Like Grandma Used to Make" and apparently, Grandma called the baker/owner — a big southern guy of African-American heritage — Wimp. His Grandma must've been a real kick-ass humdinger of a crazy woman ...

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