Over the last few years, I’ve passed by Rick’s Bakery at the markets, and told myself each time, “You need to go check out Rick’s. For real.” Repeated encouragement and shame, coupled with a strong craving for coconut macaroons finally led me to Rick’s a few weeks ago. I knew that Rick’s offered a bunch of sweet and savory items, as well as breads, but I hadn’t realized the variety of options, or that the prices were so affordable.
Truthfully, in addition to coconut macaroons, I was on the hunt for tres leches cake, which might be one of the best cakes to have ever been invented. The cake is most popular in Central and South American cuisines (sometimes Caribbean cuisines), and it contains three milks: evaporated, condensed, and heavy cream. If done well, that means moist, milky deliciousness. It’s not for the lactose intolerant, sorry. It’s hard to find around here, as many
white people haven’t heard of it. Schnucks sells it by the slice, but the label reads “milkshake cake,” which is hilariously erroneous.
So Rick’s was on my list of places to find these two delicious desserts, and as you read in my coconut macaroon article, I was not disappointed. The tres leches cake? Amazing. It was all of the things I was seeking in a tres leches cake: moist cake in a sweet pool of milky goodness, with delicious whipped cream (not chemical-based disgusting Cool Whip). Rick’s tres leches was a little unconventional in that the slice was layered, with whipped cream and strawberries in between each cake layer. (It’s s not typically layered.) This deviation from the usual did not affect the level of deliciousness: the cake was great, and I think about eating it everyday.
Like any bakery, Rick’s also has plenty of bread available. Focaccia ($4) is large enough to feed four (or two very hungry people), and there are a variety of loaves in different flavor/size combinations ranging in price from $1.50 (small loaf) to $5 (larger loaves). I picked up a small seven grain loaf. The loaf was the perfect size for two. The bread was soft and tender — the crust gave some, and wasn’t burnt or too hard. It was really quite good. I ate the rest of it the next day without toasting it because it was still perfectly soft. I probably could have eaten the entire loaf myself, but that would have been a little gratuitous.
Like most other places in town, Rick’s Bakery has at least one vegan option — on my visit it was a raisin scone (pictured with the Batman cookie, $2.50). The scone was large, with raisins speckled throughout. It wasn’t biscuit-y or dry and crumbly like many other scones, but instead had a nice texture, more cake-like crumb, and was delicately sweet. It was good enough that the spouse didn’t even notice that it was vegan.
In addition to the tres leches and coconut macaroons, there are plenty of sweet options available, and at super affordable prices. Cupcakes are only one dollar. One. Single. Dollar. (Plus tax.) No, they are not the size of your head like some overpriced cupcakes you find around C-U, but that’s perfectly fine. They’re reasonably sized, and if you really need to, you can buy four. This sweet Batman sugar cookie was $1.25, and was well worth the price to brighten my comic-loving spouse’s day, and it was tasty too. (It will likely brighten the day of a child, too; minions and other superheroes were also available.) Other pastries range in price from $1.50 to $3.50.
The lemon mousse cake ($3.50) was plenty lemony; the lemon curd on top concealed a lemony pudding-custard atop light and delicious cake. Since I can’t help but describe everything as moist, I’ll go ahead and state that the pastry was, like everything else, delicious and moist. If lemon isn’t your thing, try mango or raspberry. The portion was perfect for two — I don’t think that even I would have been able to finish one myself.
Cakes are available for special order in eight or ten inch, half, and full sheet sizes ($23 to $100 for full sheet). There are also some whole cakes and cheesecakes available in the case daily; this will depend on availability, obviously. If there is something you know you’ll need on a certain date, you can place an order.
Rick’s Bakery also offers savory items, including tamales (meat and veggie options, two for $3), stuffed croissants ($2.50), and burritos (chicken or steak, $6). Although I didn’t have any on my visits, the sizes were quite large, and at those prices, super affordable. I’m looking forward to going back to try all of them.
If you’re in a hurry, everything is available to go. If you regularly shop at Meijer in Urbana, it’s basically on the way. If you have a few moments, you can sit at one of the two tables in the small bakery and enjoy your treat and a coffee. Or soda. Or milk with your tres leches cake (cuatro leches!). Since Rick’s is located in a very sad, mostly abandoned strip mall in Urbana, there’s plenty of parking. But don’t let the location turn you off — Rick’s is a gem in this community, and I encourage you to go get some cake.
Rick’s Bakery is located at 2018 S Philo Road, Urbana, and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bakery accepts cash and plastic. For more info, check out Rick’s Facebook page.
All photos by Jessica Hammie.