Monday, Aug 3, 2020
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Cheesecake Heaven is the place for delicious treats – and bread

Fresh baked bread is just gosh darn good. And you had to have had your head under a rock for the past few years if you’re even remotely surprised to realize that Cheesecake Heaven offers more tempting pastries than just cheesecake. They also do breads as well – loaves and buns that have become so popular that whenever Chef Jameel Lightbourn bakes them, they “fly” out the door like hotcakes.

One of the reasons Cheesecake Heaven’s breads are such hot sellers is that he used the COVID-19 lockdown period to experiment with flavors beyond coconut, raisin and plain – and came up with his now popular guava bread or a combination of coconut guava. And by special request, he will whip up a bread with the combination of the client’s choosing. Walk into the store today, and the specialty bread featured will be his Bailey’s bread. Actually, Bailey’s is the flavor of the day and you will find it in almost every treat offered in-store today.

“I’ve been working on diversifying the business by not only providing cheesecakes and pastries, but venturing into the fresh bread market,” said Lightbourn. “We were traditional – plain or raisin, but the new flavors we’re coming out with include new flavors that people would be familiar with that’s not together in bread. The most popular is the coconut bread with the guava swirl.”

During lockdown, he even experimented with a cinnamon roll loaf with cream cheese, nuts and brown sugar.

With his guava loaves being the most requested, he said he finds himself having to churn out dozens of the guava or coconut guava bread flavor.

“Every time I make that one, you have persons that either buy all or almost all.”

Other than pastries and swapping out, and changing, and renaming and re-flavoring pastries, Lightbourn said he’s looking to introduce hot lunch specials featuring slow-cooked meats and root vegetables, which means customers can come in for a wholesome lunch to go with their pastry choice.

“Nothing heavy like rice – but if we do rice on a given day, it would be something healthy.”

He already offered salads (salmon, chicken and vegan) and sandwiches (oven-roasted ham, oven-roasted turkey breast and salmon) on the menu.

“What COVID-19 has taught me is that…not really taught me, but what it has reiterated, or spoken loudly to me, is just keep being different and don’t follow the crowd when it comes to producing. Just come up with new stuff all the time, whether it is before lockdown or when the city is open and free for business. Just stay outside the box and make your own lane and people will search you out once they know you’re producing [a] delicious product – no matter what,” said the proprietor who opened his brick and mortar storefront located at Madeira and Bradley Street, Palmdale, in 2010.

While many despaired the lockdown downtime, Lightbourn said he was appreciative of the time because it allowed him to experiment and come up with the new treats he’s now offering.

“It gave me a lot of time to rest, and once I have rest, my mind moves at 100 miles an hour all the time,” he said.

With some sense of normality returned, he can’t bake his keto cheesecakes fast enough. Like his breads, they fly out of the showcase as people following a low-carb, high-fat diet snatch them up.

Even while he continues to churn out new treats, his faithful clients can still expect to find their tried and true favorite treats that Cheesecake Heaven built its reputation on – decadent and unique cheesecake flavors. And it’s a flavor list that seems to be unending.

Last year, he tempted patrons with the likes of his bread pudding stuffed with cream cheese and topped with a whipped guava duff sauce, and his cheesecake-stuffed donuts. He didn’t stop there with the decadence – fried cheesecake and fried ice cream were also added to the already indulgent menu.

Lightbourn’s seriously generous-portioned raw salad comprises a heaping mound of greens topped with roasted asparagus, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), avocado wedge, spiraled beets and carrots with plum tomatoes. You can top it with a protein of choice – grilled salmon or chicken, which are topped, or a scoop of hummus with micro greens. All of the salads are served with a house-made Vidalia onion and poppy seed vinaigrette and a grilled lemon half, which adds a subtle, smoky flavor when spritzed on food; and they look cool too!

Sandwiches are served on bread that’s baked in store, as well as ham and turkey breast roasted in-house, which is a central theme for Lightbourn as he seeks to maintain control over the quality of the foods that he prepares, ensuring quality, consistency and flavor day-to-day.

The salmon sandwich is served with a tangy caper aioli. The turkey and ham sandwiches are served with a sauce that Lightbourn won’t reveal, but that has a hint of sweet.

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