Graduated from the school cafeteria, the Berkeley baker concocted a nostalgic cake business


Adrienne Johnson founded her popular dessert business after a career in the Berkeley Unified School District. Courtesy: Adrienne johnson

Sometimes all you want is a piece of cake – you know, with gluten, dairy, sugar and everything, like you’re eating without a second thought. This must be how customers of Aunt Pooey’s Sweet Tooth – people who stop by his home kitchen in Berkeley and walk away with a slice of chess pie or a Hummingbird cake – are feeling. During the pandemic, in a sea of ​​health fads and nutritional self-care trends, Aunt Pooey’s had become an island of flashbacks, of shameless sweetness, entirely by word of mouth.

Owner Adrienne Johnson, 52, started her business in early 2020. She had just been laid off, as part of this wave of job losses in the pandemic era, from her job as a cook in cafeteria for the Berkeley Unified School. Piece. Building on his lifelong love of cooking and baking, Johnson applied for a license to prepare and sell food from his home and settled on the Doordash platform. As of September 2020, Aunty Pooey’s was in business.

Aunty Pooey’s 7 Pound Cake, a hard-to-find dessert in the Bay Area. Credit: Aunty Pooey’s / Doordash

The structure is simple. Anty Pooey’s sells whole 10-inch cakes, pies, and desserts for $ 40 to $ 50, or slices for $ 7. Both are available via pickup directly at Johnson’s doorstep or via a delivery hub. While customers love to order celebratory cakes, drop-in products are incredibly popular “all day long,” she said. And why not? Johnson’s designs epitomize comfort.

Have any dessert – the peach cobbler, the red velvet cake, the sweet potato pound cake topped with a spicy chai frosting or the layered hummingbird, rich in spice and frost. All are undoubtedly retro, but also refreshing in their assured nod to classic indulgence. Others were born on a whim. “I was lying in bed one day wondering if people would like a pineapple pound cake,” Johnson said. “I went into the kitchen, played with batter, and now this is one of my bestsellers.” Still others, like banana pudding and pecan pie, taught her from her mother, who was also an avid baker. The camel cakes and the chess pie came from his mother-in-law.

Aunt Pooey’s Sweet Potato Crunch, a sweet potato pie topped with a crispy cake filling. Credit: Aunty Pooey’s / Doordash

Then there’s the 7 Pound Up Cake, which Johnson adopted from a friend’s mother. “I was a teenager when I first tried it and couldn’t believe how good it was! She said, adding that she only managed to get her hands on the recipe with a promise to never share it. The soft drink is hiding in the batter and Johnson swears by its culinary qualities.

Johnson bakes between 30 and 60 cakes a week, assisted by her husband and daughter. “I try to put as much love as possible in my cakes,” Johnson said. She takes pride in the fact that Google and Yelp reviewers love her, calling her “heavenly”, “decadent” and “delicious” goodies. Some customers particularly like the fact that cakes like Pooey’s – Johnson’s nickname since he was a child – are very hard to find in California. “A good pecan pie is especially hard to find here,” said Johnson, who, although growing up in the Bay Area, has Texan roots.

Of course, as adored as her cakes are, Johnson is regularly asked about gluten-free and vegan options. She has a few vegan items, but “I have to sit down and figure out how to make the gluten-free versions.” It may or may not happen soon. But in the meantime, the steady stream of satisfied customers, cake in hand, is not going anywhere.

Aunty Pooey’s Sweet Tooth desserts are available to order for pickup via its website, Where via DoorDash Where Uber eats.


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