Two years ago, moved from its original location on Freedom Boulevard into the Strawberry Business Park. The close proximity to the freeway has been instrumental in helping the wholesale and special event sales aspect of the business flourish, says Paul Liu, who now runs the family business for his father Tony Liu.
Tony Liu came from Taiwan in 1972 in search of a better life for his family, and opened the bakery shortly after, baking the pastries he had learned how to make growing up. Since then, Freedom Bakery has grown considerably, filling hundreds of orders for gourmet wedding and special event cakes each year.
Patch dropped in on the bakery at 125 Hangar Way awhile back and was greeted with the mouthwatering aroma of fresh berry turnovers that had just come out of the oven. A display case gleamed with eclairs, Bavarian cream sandwiches, raspberry cream puff sandwiches, and several different kinds of cookies. There was also a row of sample cakes printed with the clearest photo images you've ever seen on a cake before.
"Most bakeries that offer photo printing on cakes print it on edible paper that is then layed over the cake surface. This makes for a bit of a gooey surface," said Liu.
The photo-imaging machine that Liu purchased a few years ago doesn't require edible paper. The high tech printing system can take any image from the computer and spray it directly onto the frosting. Photo images can be printed on cookies, too—a popular order for graduations and corporate parties.
"The result is a much clearer picture that doesn’t wrinkle, bubble up, or run as it sometimes does with the edible paper version," said Liu. ”It’s basically a modernized version of what we used to do which was hand decorate.”
When it comes to hand decorating, though, the Lius still do a considerable amount of it, and their hand piping cakes are as impressive as their photo-imaged ones.
“Most brides that want cakes want something more classic,” said Liu.
When it comes to cakes, Liu says one of the most popular kinds is their chiffon cake, which is made with an egg white base and has a very light texture.
"Not too many bakeries do them anymore," said Liu, who also uses real whipped cream, as opposed to imitation which many bakeries now use instead to save money.
The Bakery also makes pies to order, although Liu says pies have phased out of popularity with this generation.
“Pies aren’t as popular as they used to be but when it comes to Thanksgiving we sell a lot of them, they are tradition,” Liu said.
The most unique offering at Freedom Bakery though, are their novelty dog biscuits. The biscuits ship wholesale to universities and colleges all over the country, and you can find them in their Strawberry Business Park location, too.
"We've had requests over the years on providing high quality dog biscuits. People consider dogs to be a part of the family, so it makes sense that we should provide treats for them as well," said Liu.
Freedom Bakery began making the dog biscuits a couple years ago, after a distributor approached them about it.
"So now we have logo'd dog biscuits in probably 60 or so universities around the country," said Liu.
The dog biscuits are made with peanut butter, chicken broth, rice flour, eggs, butter, and wheat flower, and make for perfect special-occasion presents for the dog in your life.
Editor's note: This is one in a series about unique Watsonville businesses. Read more here.