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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Comments

Sandy Weil

I saw an article and recipe you had posted March 20, 2005 about your memories of the Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake. I thought you might find it interesting my father, Ernest Weil was the original baker who created the famous Crunch Cake while working at Blum's back in the mid 1940's. He left Blum's in 1948 to open his dream bakery, Fantasia Confections. He continued to make the Coffee Crunch Cake long after Blum's closed their doors. It was one of our best sellers. People would travel many miles to get that cake!

We sold our family bakery in 1989. In 2000, after many years of people requesting my father's recipes he started working on Love To Bake Pastry Cookbook. Six years later.... it is finally complete and available at http://www.lovetobakecookbook.com. Since the folks who come to your site seemed to respond with various recipes of the cake, I thought they might like to know about the cookbook. All the authors profits are going to benefit children's organizations. The book has 150 of Fantasia's mouthwatering recipes in it.
Here are some quotes from a couple of recent media mentions:

KGO Radio 810AM, July 12th, 2006 - 8:00 - 9:00pm
Host: John Rothman, on the Gene Burns Show
"Fantasia was famous in San Francisco and throughout the world."
"Ernest created one of the greatest cakes of all time - the Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake."

KCBS Radio 740AM, In The Kitchen With Narsai David, July, 7th, 2006
"This is a collection of Fantasia Confections' best. Ernest Weil, now 81, founder and owner of Fantasia Confections wrote this. Some of the favorites are the chocolate cake and coffee crunch cake."

San Francisco Examiner, Christopher Caen, April, 2006
"…For the Blum's of my generation was the old Fantasia Confections in the Laurel Shopping Center. It was also the home of one of the last Zim's, but that's another story for another rainy day. Anyway, many people would argue over the merits of the Blum's Coffee Cake versus the Fantasia Crunch Cake. Yet here is the wee little item: little did they know that the man responsible for both was indeed the same man. Ernest Weil was a baker at Blum's and then started Fantasia in 1948, making him probably the sweetest man every to grace our shores. And if that isn't a thought to chase these rainy days away, then I don't know what is."

The current recipe you have up looks pretty good, but I noticed when glancing at it (I am not a trained baker - I just swept the bakery floors, sold the goodies and got to eat whatever I wanted!) two main parts of the recipe are missing. My father always put crunch in between the cake layers with the cream filling, not just around the outside. Also, he always had coffee whipped cream filling and icing, not plain vanilla. Please feel free to visit our website for lots of information regarding the book and the children's organizations we are supporting. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Sandy Weil

Cindy Chen

Wow, that is a great story!! We must have had a Blum's coffee crunch cake at EVERY special occasion of my childhood! Several of my birthday cakes were a Blum's coffee crunch cake! What great memories....I will have to try my hand at making one with this recipe.
BTW, I went to high school with a Sandy Weil ( Washington High School ). Is that you Sandy?
All the Best,
Cindy Chen

Alison Williams

I remember celebrating a birthday at Blum's when I was very young (maybe 5 or so). The birthday cake had a very rich buttercream frosting that was almost too rich for me as a kid. Now that I'm in my 50's I wonder why I can so vividly remember that particular birthday with my parents.
Alison

Donna Dodson aka Mrs. Fred Levy

I am the widow of Fred Levy, whom Mr. Weil worked for at Blum's. I would love to hear from anyone with memories of Blum's or Fred Levy in the old days -- our daughter made that Coffee Crunch cake for me for a recent birthday and it was the best cake I have ever tasted! And what a labor of love -- yes, it took hours!!

michael elliott

One great thing I recall about
Blum's is the licorice toffee which melted in your mouth...any idea where I might get the recipe?
Michael

Karen Dunn

In the late 1960's and early 1970's my favorite lunch while visiting my friend Bernice in San Francisco was the cream cheese, black olive, walnut sandwich at Blum's. I think they served it on date bread or one of their other homemade bread. And, of course, I always had to get some of their chocolate in squares to take home to southern CA. How I miss those wonderful, old SF cafes & restaurants!

Jo Ann Vear

Thank you so much for having this information. We were talking about Blum's the other day wondering if there was any way to get the recipe for the coffee crunch cake. I loved the location on Geary as well as the one in the Fairmont and often visited the one in Carmel. The one on Geary was always my favorite.

Louella Rehfield

I have made Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake more times than I can recall, and it is the best
non-chocolate dessert ever. The recipe I used was from the 1960 Better Homes & Gardens Dessert cook book, a fabulous book.
There used to be a Blum's in LA when I was
growing up - marvelous.
At age 76 I have made my last one but I can
almost taste the cake from memory.
Louella Rehfield, Carpinteria, CA

JL Herman

Yes, In the year of 1965, my brother was renting a house on the bay in Tiburon. We drove up from San Diego pulling our boat to Celebrate Christmas, which was my birthday and also my Dad's. Weeks before our arrival, my Mother had called in the order for our special Birthday cakes from Blums in SF. After dinner on Christmas Day my Dad and I waited and wondered why all the people in the Kitchen. Well...Four of my family marched in with four lite Birthday cakes from Blums. My brother had also called in an order so when he arrived at Blums, there were four cakes to pick up. Imagine all of our suprize, but it was a Christmas and Very Special Birthday to Remember. Jane Lukens Herman Pacifica CA

Pamela Kulesa

Ahhh Blum's. It was the ultimate outing for we girls back in the 60's. We were tweens but our Mother's would drop us off for "lunch" which usually was huge sundaes of many descriptions. The fountain is defintely lost art but boy we certainly felt sooooo sophisticated!!! I miss it and would go all the time now if I could!

Sandy

Thought you might be interested...
Original Coffee Crunch Cake Baker is Spreading Sweetness Around The SF Bay Area This Season!

100% of the proceeds from LOVE TO BAKE Pastry Cookbook (which includes Crunch Cake recipe) will go to organizations serving children and youth in the SF Bay Area and beyond. The first printing of this magnificent, 248 page cookbook sold out. The family decided to make the book available as a download. Many of your viewers will be excited to learn about this extra sweet gift, which makes available Fantasia’s fabulous recipes AND will also be supporting organizations helping kids. A one of a kind gift that spreads sweetness around the Bay Area in numerous ways! See www.lovetobakecookbook.com for the list of organizations supported.

Ernest Weil, founder of Fantasia Confections and creator of the famous "Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake", has written LOVE TO BAKE, a pastry cookbook in which he shares the secrets of more than 150 of the bakery's most popular recipes including the Sacher Torte and Florentine Cookies. For over forty years, bay area residents were pampered with Fantasia's mouth-watering cakes, pastries, and cookies.


Along with the fabulous recipes and color photos, Ernest shares his personal story and “behind the cakes” stories revealing what made Fantasia a successful business. From birthday cakes to bar mitzvah cakes, to wedding cakes to baby shower cakes - and then starting the cycle all over again. Fantasia served three generations of families living in the Bay Area. Their sweets were enjoyed by, Herb Caen, Dianne Feinstein,
Robin Williams, Beverly Sills, and other celebrities.

Customer quote... "My two favorite childhood desserts were the Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake and the Florentine cookies. It was always a wonderful surprise to see my mom setting one of the pink boxes down on the kitchen table upon her return home from shopping, knowing that the cake or the cookies were inside. How amazing that the two desserts were created by the same baker! I never knew about that link between Blum's and Fantasia…. Ernest, thank you so much for so many great memories of family meals that were made special by your wonderful desserts!" Best regards, Jud

Happy Holidays,
The Weil / Fantasia Family
www.lovetobakecookbook.com

Karen  Dougherty

Can I get a hard copy of the I can cook pastry cookbook or are they out of print?

Frances

I remember buying and loving Blum's Petit Fours many years ago. I recently saw a box of Blum's candy in a local store, but when I Googled Blum's of San Francisco, I only got various retailors. Do you know anything about the actual company? Thank you.

Greg

I remember my first "date" at seven years old...I took the cutest girl in the class to Blum's in San Mateo for breakfast.
Although we lived around the corner from another bakery, I always asked for the Coffee Crunch Cake for my birthday. My mom said that they wouldn't be able to write "Happy Birthday Greg" on it and I replied "I don't care, I want that cake!"
I am getting married August 1st and the wedding cake is going to be...you guessed it!

Ann miller

I used to work at the New York branch of Blums, back in the mid sixties.Andy williams came in and bought the famous coffee crunch
cake for his wife!!
I have many fond memories of my life in the usa over 40 yrs ago

chip Cobalt

i have been craving Blum's of SF wrapped chocolate/fudge/almond chews--came in a can very expensive-ish---anyone see or taste this anywhere---chip

Noenoe

Aloha from Hawai'i--I grew up in San Francisco in the 50's and also have fond memories of getting all dressed up with my mom and going to Blum's for the Crunch Cake. I have lived many places since then and still crave for a taste of this wonderful cake. I'm not a baker, but am going to try to find "the book" and make the cake for the holidays this year. Speaking of holidays--I remember how we used to go downtown just to look at the Christmas window displays--they were awesome and one of the best parts of Christmas--do the stores still do this? Haven't been back for Christmas in over 30 years so I'm sure it too has changed. And what about the tree at the City of Paris--that was another "must see" stop for us. I know the store no longer exists but the place itself was magical, including the architectural features on the inside, and less expensive than I.Magnin's. Its circular balconies as I recall are what allowed the City of Paris to have such a tall tree decorated with all the real toys and dolls we all wanted. Another of my fond memories, food-wise, was the STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE that they made at ADELINE'S BAKERY on Van Ness Avenue; we used to get ours at the Adeline's Bakery in West Portal. DOES ANYONE HAVE A RECIPE FOR THEIR DELICIOUS STREUSEL CAKE???? I have not been able to find a recipe that even comes close, and since they have closed, I cannot even order one. ANY SUGGESTIONS ON WHERE TO FIND THIS ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED. As we say in Hawai'i: Mahalo, Noenoe

Mimi

As another native San Franciscan of the 50's, Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake and fabulous petit fours live in my memory. How many times have I wished for the recipe, though I doubt I can make it as well as 'the real thing'. Thank you all for your remembrances which are so like mine - we've probably met somewhere in our city by the bay!

Dee

Thank you for such wonderful memories. Watching my mom in gloves and hat shopping at I. Magnin's, going down to Woolworth's to watch the on floor demos, finishing the day at Blum's and taking as long as I could to finish off the Coffee Crunch Cake, and most times, the heavenly sight of my mom buying a whole cake to take home across the Bay. I see the palm trees in Union Square, smell her Shalimar, and taste the Coffee Crunch Cake. Wow--I had a great childhood!

CAlexander

I haven't seen anyone mentioning Blum's in Sacramento. My husband and I went engagement ring shopping in 1967 and followed up our shopping trip with a trip to Blum's and of course, the famous Coffee Crunch Cake.

When I was in high school in Woodland, CA we frequently vacationed at Dillon Beach. We went out to the clam beds on a barge and spent the early mornings (at low tide) digging clams and scouring the kelp beds for crab. We would go back to the house and feed everyone FRESH crab cocktail, clam chowder, San Francisco french bread and the wonderful Coffee Crunch Cake. Oh what great memories!

Carol

Anna Ordunio

I remember Blums very well in Pasadena, California on South Lake. Oh, they do not have Cafe's like that anymore. Beside the delicious Coffee Crunch Cake, I loved the Prune danish. Oh, that was delicious. I am originally a New Yorker, and were they from the East... I am curious. Thanks for the memory....

Barbara Harutunian

The Coffee Crunch Cake - but, the Chocolate Mint Cake - Heaven ! ! !
Does anyone have the recipe ? ? ?

Tami Robinson

I was born in San Francisco in 1951, and later grew up on the Peninsula where there was a Blum's in downtown San Mateo. We used to go there and get their blueberry muffins. They were the best I've ever had, light fluffy, rich favored golden yellow muffins with lots of big blueberries. My late mother loved them the best. Does anyone have the recipe they could send me, please?

Stephanie Sanford

Does anyone remember Townsands restaurant? I think it was on Geary next to the old "City of Paris" It was a "Ladies" restaurant where SF's socialites (and other fine ladies) could be found all decked out having lunch. The favorite and what they were most famous for was their creamed spinich with 1/2 hard cooked egg on top. It was yummy. I don't think it survived the 60's And, I never saw a man enter the door.

Theresa Akins

I too loved Blum's although, heaven forbid, I do not remember the coffee crunch cake. I was very littel about 6 or 7 and us small town girls from Tracy, CA would visit my continental aunt Margie in SF. We would go to Blums and get the hamburgers. I remember the 'special sauce' they put on them, different for me. I loved dressing up and going to fancy restaurants and the ballet and the Academy of Sciences where my aunt was a volunteer. The cafe there was wonderful as well as the cafe at the Emporium

Sandy Weil

The blog owner here: I support Sandy Weil & Fantasia Bakery's activism. Feel free to click and buy

Two sweet treats at once! With the holidays approaching...those of you that are interested in helping support kids programs in the SF area and love to bake...
Fantasia Bakery's cookbook is available via download and 100% of the "sale" goes to help kids' groups. There are also some copies available on CD - great holiday gifts. Visit:
fantasiabakerycookbook.com and read instructions about downloading book.

Ernest Weil the founder of Fantasia was the original baker at Blum's that created the first ever Coffee Crunch Cake.

Happy Baking!

Sandy Weil

Thank you!!!

Sue Bissonnette

I remember how my mom and I would dress up to go shopping on South Lake Avenue in Pasadena. It was the late 50's and the 60's. We weren't well-to-do, but we felt like we were! There was Bullock's, and I. Magnin's, and Joseph Magnin's, and a dozen or more quality little shops. But to top it all off, we would celebrate our trip with a visit to Blum's. We'd sit at the counter, circular, or curved in shape, as I remember. Since we didn't have a lot to spend, I don't recall ever having the crunch cake, but we'd get the cheese and the prune danishes. The danish was square-ish in shape, and they'd heat it up and then put a little square pat of cold butter right in the middle. To this day, I always try to serve my danish in the same fashion (mostly to myself, when I'm celebrating alone), recalling the regal feeling of those early days. Mom and I would order a cup of Blum's coffee along with the danish, and we felt as though we were royalty! In those days, you never dreamed there would come a time when there weren't those days. We are privileged to have such memories.

Connie Van Cleave

I found this site because I Googled looking for Blum's Bran Muffin recipe. They were the best bran muffins I've ever had. I worked in several of the shops on South Lake in Pasadena as a teenager. Blum's also served a Shrimp Cocktail in a Sundae glass with lot's of shrimp, diced celery and cocktail sauce that was a favorite of mine and must have been very affordable since I didn't have lots of money

J.

Shots from the OC...Yes the famous Blums of San Francisco there was a establishment in Lake Forest, CA. from 73-78 a truely great operation.

Susan Balkan Marcus

This is for Mrs. Levy (of Blums)Donna Dodson aka Mrs. Fred Levy

My wifes father, David Balkan was a partner of Mr. Levy. He passed away in 1948. His daughter, my wife, Susan Balkan Marcus would very much like to speak with you. Susan may be reached at 214-533-1015 or email: susanmarcus1@tx.rr.com.

Susan looks forward to hearing from you.

Herbert Marcus III

Lisa

OMG....I love the coffee crunch cake and had one every year for my birthday since i can remember. My wedding cake was a 3 tier coffee crunch cake....SO incredibly yummy. I am definitely wanting this book......No one has made a coffee crunch cake like Fantasia....in fact both my sisters wedding cakes came from fantasia....wish there was a bakery like Fantasia.....or someone who could make this cake as good as Fantasia.....

Earl Root

Blum's memorabilia...
I recently found a two pound candy box carton in great condition marked "by Blum's, San Francisco". The illustration on the top has two girls waving from a WW II military "Jeep" with the inscription "Made exclusively for the U.S. Armed Forces".

This appears to be Blum's "Home Front" contribution to the war effort.

Earl Root


Mary Louise Wolfrom

I am a born and raised Palo Altan, and from my earliest memory, birthdays were a toy from Norneys at the Stanford Mall, and CRUNCH CAKE at Stickneys!!
Yesterday for Mother's Day, my son made me a cake that was quite similar to the original. Yes, the memories of I. Magnin, Joseph Magnin, the Emporium, Blum's "coffiesta" treat still loom large....sigh

Rosalind LoBuono

What a nice story. I am going to bake this cake this weekend.
What a talent, to create such a recipe.
Is the cookbook still on the market?

Rosalind LoBuono

Marianne

I just had the coffee crunch cake delivered for my birthday. It was purchased in SFs Japantown from a small bakery called Sweet Spot within a grocery at the corner of Sutter and Buchanan.

Ro

My mouth is watering after reading all these comments on Coffee Crunch Cake. I was telling my children about this wonderful cake the other night at dinner and how much I love it. My 70th birthday is coming up and I am hoping they surprise me with one. Growing up in SF I use to have coffee crunch cake every year for my birthday cake. My special order. What wonderful memories.
Going to Blums, all dressed up, for lunch with my Mom was such a special occasion

Forrest Darby

Does anyone still make a true Blums Coffee Crunch Cake? And yes, as stated by Sandy Weil above, it did have coffee wipped cream filling, not plain vanilla.

Tamara

My mother use to take us to Stanford Shopping Center and we loved to stop at Blums. My absolute favorite was the angle food cake with a hard shell pink frosting. Anyone have the recipe?

Donna Dodson  (Mrs. Fred Levy)

WIDOW OF FRED LEVY. I was fascinated to see the site about Blum’s Candies and Fred Levy after all of these years. Believe it or not, I am the widow of Fred Levy, who would be 100 years old about now (2011). I live in Charlotte NC where our daughter and her family (2 boys, 18 and 20) and husband Scott) live. Our son, Jimmy Dodson, lives in LA with his wife Starla. Jimmy is a filmmaker with 20th Century Fox, and indy, and his wife is a prominent photographer. Both pretty spectacular kids, as was their father – “Boy Wonder Fred Levy” as the S. F. Chronicle often called him. I was 15 years younger than Fred and am an active senior citizen in Charlotte. I would love to hear from any fans of Blums. I know it is firmly plant4d in the hearts of vintage San Franciscans to this day.

Judy Goodwin

My great grandmother started Blums. I was born in 1951 so, I really don't have as much information about Blums that I'd like to have. In the 30's and 40's it was owned by Lillian Blum and her 2 daughters: Clemence and Barbara (my mother). Clemence married Freddy Levy at some point and he became the manager and part owner of Blums. He did a dynamite job. Sometime in the 40's Clemence & Freddy divorced. From what I understand, my family sold Blums as part of the divorce settlement. They sold it to a large company which kept it going quite well through the 50's (I'd have my yearly birthday cake made there also). It was sold many times after that and never did attain the reputation it had when run by the Blum family. But as this blog represents, it still carries an incredible legacy.

Jim Work

The last time I had a Blum's hard candies was in 1958. I would sell my soul to find some. I had some coffee teens and some cinnamon.

Gale Ebert

I grew up in San Francisco. My mother, who was known at the time as "Anne Ebert", spent a lot of time at Blum's San Francisco and some time at Blum's Beverly Hills, in the late 1940's. She said she was "learning the business", as she was buying the rights, apparently, to open a franchise in San Mateo, CA. She speaks of learning or at least observing everything from candy- and cake-making to food and soda fountain preparations. We had lived just a few blocks away and I went to Blum's on Polk and California Streets many times. I remember fondly the Chicken a la King, which is never seen on a menu these days, and the completely delightful chocolate milkshakes with thick fudge sauce stuck to the sides of the milkshake glasses. Not even Wil Wright's, C.C. Brown's, or Haagen Daaz could match this delectation. Mother told the story that a "soda jerk" trying to make a chocolate shake had accidentally used the wrong kind of chocolate sauce and another Blum's mini-legend was born.

During these days I was going to boarding school in San Rafael, and Mother would send over cakes once a week, probably a dozen or so at a time, for the children to enjoy who lived away from home. She also would keep my supplied with boxes of tiny bonbons known as "Mignonettes". Then there were "Almondettes" which were chunks of almonds stuck into some chocolate confection that seemed a lot like the fudge that was stuck to the inside of the milkshake glasses.

I too have tried to make the crunch cake and unfortunately the crunch bits seem to get soggy if not consumed immediately. Someday I will try some of the recipes found on the Internet. But what can recapture the delight even of standing in line waiting for a table at Polk and California?! The Blum's at the Fairmont, at the department stores, in Beverly Hills or San Mateo---nothing can match the magic of the original. Mom knew Fred Levy and I could mention other names too. She passed away a few months ago at 102.

Amusing note regarding a comment on the recipe of the Crunch cake. Perhaps it was some memory at the molecular level that engendered the following:
My husband and I owned a bakery in Santa Monica from 1978 until 1995. It was known as "The Buttery". In no way could our line of products compare with Blum's line. But what we did make was excellent. We had a recipe for Danish pastry that none compares to even in Denmark! But the unique thing we did, reminiscent of Blum's, is that the glaze we drizzled on the pastries after they were baked consisted not of water or milk thickened with powdered sugar, but fine strong "Coffee Bean" Mocha Java Columbian brew. It lent a special something to the pastries I've never seen or tasted elsewhere. Perhaps my childhood memories from Blum's influenced our baking.

Judy Goodwin

Gale,
Did your mother run the Blums in San Mateo?

catherine mallen

Judy,

This is a long shot for me, but somehow, I am related to the Blums through my grandmother. Would you be willing to give me your grandmother's name? I know that Simon started the business in 1890, at least according to ads I have seen. Thanks so much but understand if you don't feel good about giving her name.

Thanks,
Catherine Mallen

Judy Goodwin

I have no problem at all, Catherine. My grandmother's name was Clara Lillian Julian(Blum) (born 5/5/1885 in Cornwall, GB) but she was married to Jack(Jacob)one of Simon's 2 sons (twins). Simon was married to Clemie(Clemence?)Levy who was born in San Francisco in 1867. Her family imigrated from Germany. I've done a little geneology on our family but haven't gone very far back on the Blum's side.

catherine mallen

My grandmother was orphaned at an early age and ended up being raised for a few years by a Charles and Eliza (Pearce) Julian in Santa Clara or thereabouts. I know that she is with them in 1910 but then moves to Utah after that. I believe that she is related to the Pearce side but would be cousins with Eliza's children. They had a daughter, Lillian, that was born in May of 1885 in Cornwall. Do you think that this could be the same person as your grandmother? My grandmother ended up naming my mom, Lillian. I have so little information on my grandma. This would be great to find out anything!!
Thanks,
Catherine Mallen

Judy Goodwin

Wow! That's incredible Catherine. Lillian is my grandmother. She was named Clara Lillian and for some reason dropped Clara very young in life, she was born May 5, 1885. She lived to be 98 years old! My grandmother never talked alot about her siblings and of course I wasn't very intersted to ask when I was younger. Toward the end of her life she mentioned Olive a lot. She said Olive was one of her sisters unless it was your grandmother. Charles worked at Kennecott mine in Utah when the family first arrived in the US in 1888 or 89. At some point they moved to Morgan Hill, Calif. where I remember visiting them in the early 50's. Unfortunatly I don't have a lot of information about their lives in the US. I recieved a lot of this from census records when I dabbled in geneology. I'll look up some more info. Do you want to exchange e-mail addresses?

Liz Ditz

Judy and Catherine, it makes me so happy that this little post from 7 years ago has put the two of you in contact. Ain't the internet wonderful?

And Judy, my grandfather was Guy Leonard Goodwin. Are we distantly related?

catherine mallen

OH YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! azmallens@gmail.com
She had a sister named Olive, and 3 brothers that I know of. Can't wait to hear from you.
And Liz, the internet is wonderful, thanks.
Catherine Mallen

Judy Goodwin

I went to Calif in January and a high school friend of mine told me about this blog. I wouldn't have ever thought anybody was still interested in Blums candies after all these years. Who ever started this provided a great service!! And yes, the internet is amazing.
I married into the Goodwin family, Liz. I haven't done any geneology on them. I know that my husband's father had 8 brother's and sisters and they were all born in San Francisco in the late 1800's and early 20th century. I'll ask his sister about your grandfather's name, she's better at knowing the family background than my husband is.
I'll get out my geneology info Catherine and e-mail you.

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