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At Flour Atelier, cupcakes are in full bloom

Picturesque pastries, custom cakes, and flowers at a creative Kearny Mesa bakery

Flour Atelier's "Signature Puff Pastry"
Flour Atelier's "Signature Puff Pastry"
Video:

FEAST! At Flour Atelier, cupcakes are in full bloom


“Look at those pretty flowers!” I hear, followed by, “Oh! There are pretty cupcakes too!” I’ll hear some version of this conversation several times in the fifteen minutes I’m seated outside Flour Atelier, a recently opened shop next door to Mitsuwa Marketplace, the Japanese grocery store in Kearny Mesa. 



Place

Flour Atelier

4240 Kearny Mesa Rd #116, San Diego

Customers coming out of the grocery are marveling as they walk past, and I’m marveling with them. I’m trying to take pictures of a half dozen of those cupcakes, and finding it more challenging than usual to resist putting down my camera and just eating everything already.


This new bakery arrived with a compelling backstory. In search of creative outlet, Chrisell “Selly” Gonzales Nguyen spent four years baking photogenic cakes in her garage, and taking orders through Instagram, building a loyal following in the process. One of those followers turned out Evelyn Itsumi Ozburn, a Japanese-American who expresses herself through floral arrangements. When Selly started posting vacation photos from Japan, Evelyn knew just the café she should visit, and sent a message. That sparked a fast friendship, a creative kinship, and eventually a business.


Together, they have launched a brick and mortar bakery, café, and boutique florist, named with both a flower pun and the twenty-five cent word for an artist’s studio. But even sweeter than the wordplay at Flour Atelier, are the cupcakes. These include familiar flavors, such as chocolate or carrot cake. But most are unique and beautiful to behold, often accented by an edible flower.


Even the aforementioned Milo chocolate cupcake ($8) brings intriguing touches, from the contrasting bright pink of the blossom perched on top, to the graham cracker crumbs sprinkled over a malted cream frosting made with Milo, a malted and fortified chocolate malt powder made by Nestle, that we’re told is popular throughout Southeast Asia. All the chocolaty satisfaction, with a twist either nostalgic or novel, depending on where you’re coming from.

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A sampling of deliciously artsy cupcakes from Flour Atelier


Flour Atelier’s nut-free pastries frequently reference the owners’ respective backgrounds and interests in this way. Gonzales Nguyen combines a pair of culinary staples from her Filipino culture in the Ube Leche Flan ($7.50), a cupcake flavored and colored by the archipelago nation’s popular, purple sweet potato. It’s capped with the shop’s signature buttercream, which is topped with a miniature circle of flan, which in turn is topped by an icing flower of ube jam. Conversely, there’s Itsumi Yuzu ($7), relatively understated with a matcha cake, and a single, tiny bloom centered on a spread of yuzu cream, infused with the Japanese citrus and peppered with more of the powdered green tea.


If I’m forced to pick a favorite, tho, it has to be the Halo-Halo Especial, named for a colorful shaved ice dish layered with colorful sweet treats such as jellies, sweet beans, and fruit. In cupcake form, Flour Atelier delivers a creamy, rainbow polka dot cake made with evaporated milk, filled with flan, iced with ube cream, and topped with sweet beans, cubed jelly, and a candy straw.


A three layer white cake with Berries, flower, and macaron


It’s perhaps the most unexpected delight in a glass counter filled with them. Tough decisions include whether to pair your Mostra roasted coffee with a calamansi or lavender cheesecake tart ($8); the traditional or ube crème brulee ($9); or a positively statuesque triple layer white cake ($10), the flower atop it arranged alongside a strawberry and macaron. Spoiler alert: fresh berries are tucked between the layers.


First timers may want to steer straight into Flour Atelier’s signature puff pastry ($6), dressed to impress with artfully arranged dollops of cream, berries, merengue, and edible flower, of course. And I’m here to tell you eating the flowers is optional. But when longtime fans show up — the ones who backed the nascent bakery’s kickstarter campaign and ordered through Instagram before that — they order custom cakes to accent their most memorable celebrations. And its easy to understand why: they get much the same artistry as the cupcakes, but on a bigger canvas.

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Flour Atelier's "Signature Puff Pastry"
Flour Atelier's "Signature Puff Pastry"
Video:

FEAST! At Flour Atelier, cupcakes are in full bloom


“Look at those pretty flowers!” I hear, followed by, “Oh! There are pretty cupcakes too!” I’ll hear some version of this conversation several times in the fifteen minutes I’m seated outside Flour Atelier, a recently opened shop next door to Mitsuwa Marketplace, the Japanese grocery store in Kearny Mesa. 



Place

Flour Atelier

4240 Kearny Mesa Rd #116, San Diego

Customers coming out of the grocery are marveling as they walk past, and I’m marveling with them. I’m trying to take pictures of a half dozen of those cupcakes, and finding it more challenging than usual to resist putting down my camera and just eating everything already.


This new bakery arrived with a compelling backstory. In search of creative outlet, Chrisell “Selly” Gonzales Nguyen spent four years baking photogenic cakes in her garage, and taking orders through Instagram, building a loyal following in the process. One of those followers turned out Evelyn Itsumi Ozburn, a Japanese-American who expresses herself through floral arrangements. When Selly started posting vacation photos from Japan, Evelyn knew just the café she should visit, and sent a message. That sparked a fast friendship, a creative kinship, and eventually a business.


Together, they have launched a brick and mortar bakery, café, and boutique florist, named with both a flower pun and the twenty-five cent word for an artist’s studio. But even sweeter than the wordplay at Flour Atelier, are the cupcakes. These include familiar flavors, such as chocolate or carrot cake. But most are unique and beautiful to behold, often accented by an edible flower.


Even the aforementioned Milo chocolate cupcake ($8) brings intriguing touches, from the contrasting bright pink of the blossom perched on top, to the graham cracker crumbs sprinkled over a malted cream frosting made with Milo, a malted and fortified chocolate malt powder made by Nestle, that we’re told is popular throughout Southeast Asia. All the chocolaty satisfaction, with a twist either nostalgic or novel, depending on where you’re coming from.

Sponsored
Sponsored


A sampling of deliciously artsy cupcakes from Flour Atelier


Flour Atelier’s nut-free pastries frequently reference the owners’ respective backgrounds and interests in this way. Gonzales Nguyen combines a pair of culinary staples from her Filipino culture in the Ube Leche Flan ($7.50), a cupcake flavored and colored by the archipelago nation’s popular, purple sweet potato. It’s capped with the shop’s signature buttercream, which is topped with a miniature circle of flan, which in turn is topped by an icing flower of ube jam. Conversely, there’s Itsumi Yuzu ($7), relatively understated with a matcha cake, and a single, tiny bloom centered on a spread of yuzu cream, infused with the Japanese citrus and peppered with more of the powdered green tea.


If I’m forced to pick a favorite, tho, it has to be the Halo-Halo Especial, named for a colorful shaved ice dish layered with colorful sweet treats such as jellies, sweet beans, and fruit. In cupcake form, Flour Atelier delivers a creamy, rainbow polka dot cake made with evaporated milk, filled with flan, iced with ube cream, and topped with sweet beans, cubed jelly, and a candy straw.


A three layer white cake with Berries, flower, and macaron


It’s perhaps the most unexpected delight in a glass counter filled with them. Tough decisions include whether to pair your Mostra roasted coffee with a calamansi or lavender cheesecake tart ($8); the traditional or ube crème brulee ($9); or a positively statuesque triple layer white cake ($10), the flower atop it arranged alongside a strawberry and macaron. Spoiler alert: fresh berries are tucked between the layers.


First timers may want to steer straight into Flour Atelier’s signature puff pastry ($6), dressed to impress with artfully arranged dollops of cream, berries, merengue, and edible flower, of course. And I’m here to tell you eating the flowers is optional. But when longtime fans show up — the ones who backed the nascent bakery’s kickstarter campaign and ordered through Instagram before that — they order custom cakes to accent their most memorable celebrations. And its easy to understand why: they get much the same artistry as the cupcakes, but on a bigger canvas.

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