FIELDSTON, The Bronx (PIX11) — It’s a New York culinary delight that manages to find its way far beyond its home base in the Bronx to locations across the world. That’s especially true during this holiday week when Lloyd’s Carrot Cake’s signature product is in its highest demand.
A long line stretches far down the block from the small storefront business all day, Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving. But, a look into the kitchen and behind the counter provides insight into what all the fuss is about. A conversation with co-owner Lilka Adams, the daughter of founder Lloyd Adams, gives an even fuller view.
“Of all the cakes my dad could’ve made, he made the highest maintenance cake of all time,” she half-jokingly said inside the bakery.
Adams said the right combination of ingredients, baking time, and experience converts a batch of root vegetables into something thousands of people wait in line for days during the holidays.
Another critical factor in the making of New York’s most popular carrot cake comes in the form of someone who intimately knows their business’s kitchen.
“I will make it from scratch,” said Ruth Bailey in the middle of the prep and oven area of the business.
She’s been the head baker at Lloyd’s for decades. Every day, she combines flour, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, baking powder, raisins, walnuts, and carrots — of course — in just the right amounts.
The amount of carrots is unusually high: there are five cups of chopped and shredded carrots in every 10-inch cake.
“It really contributes to the fluffiness, the softness, the moisture and consistency of the cake,” Adams said.
She also pointed out that her father’s recipe calls for a somewhat unorthodox frosting, with which every cake is covered: its base is cream cheese rather than a butter base, like so many other carrot cakes’ icing.
Customers can choose to have a cake with nuts and raisins on top, and there is a wait for all of it.
“About an hour-and-a-half,” said Earline Brown, who was near the front of the line, which extended more than a city block in length.
She said it was well worth the wait.
“You can’t get a carrot cake like this anywhere else other than the Bronx,” she said. “Delicious.”
Also near the front of the line on Tuesday afternoon was a customer who gave only his first name, Ramysh.
“Absolutely worth it,” he concurred, adding that it’s been gratifying for him every time. “Been coming here five or six years.”
At the end of the line was Fior Melecia, who said she was prepared for a long wait.
“For a good reason, right?” she said. “This is the best cake in the city.”
Exactly how much of each ingredient is in the recipe is a secret, as are any additional ingredients that founder Lloyd Adams concocted.
“My father was just watching Knicks games with his friends, and he’d bake them a cake,” Lilka Adams explained. “And they’d say, ‘You’ve got something here.'”
Lloyd Adams founded the business in 1986 in his father-in-law’s basement in East Harlem. It grew into two locations — one in the Fieldston neighborhood in the Bronx and one in East Harlem. It also has become an institution.
The founder passed away in 2005. His wife and business partner, Betty Campbell-Adams, passed away two years ago.
Now, their daughter Lilka and son Brandon co-own the business. They’ve partnered with other companies to promote the brand.
Lilka Adams was wearing limited edition Lloyd’s Vans shoes and a special edition Lloyd’s t-shirt from Kith brand clothing for her interview.
“We want to make sure that with expansion, the consistency of our recipe, and our product, remains the same,” she said.
The demand for that product is a testament to its quality. One wall of the main bakery on Broadway, across from Van Cortlandt Park, is full of some of the many news articles written about the signature cake.
It has been eaten by devotees worldwide, even though Lloyd’s only delivers in the U.S. Lilka Adams said that many customers come to the store, buy the cake, and then ship it or take it in person to a wide variety of destinations.
“Paris, Italy, China, Afghanistan, the Caribbean all over, Costa Rica,” she said.
Thanksgiving week is the busiest for the business. On Wednesday, the day before the holiday, business hits its peak.
Lloyd’s is open for in-person pickup from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. except on Thanksgiving and Sundays.