PHOTOGRAPHY by Lianna Tarantin

Meet the Maker: Erin McKenna, BabyCakes NYC

A love for coconut oil, a BabyCakes App and a cooking show with Zach Galifianakis?

BabyCakes NYC
Founded 2005
Founder: Erin McKenna
Location: NYC, LA, & Orlando
www.BabyCakesNYC.com
“Serving up sweets free from wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and refined sugar.”

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Living in a city like New York that is full of bakeries that have been here for generations is incredibly inspiring. I have never been into fussy desserts and have always found myself drawn to the tradition surrounding bakeries and the ceremony of ducking in for a quick warm cookie with a cup of coffee in the winter or stopping for the morning pastry on the way to work. There’s something a bit romantic about that to me and it’s an industry I’m proud to be a part of.

How did you get started in the baking industry?

Self-taught! I worked at Lupa as a waitress before I opened the bakery. Chef Ladner gave me the encouragement I needed to put aside my self-doubt and take the next step.

Tell us about your baking/design process.

I really have no talent when it comes to design; it’s just very loose and just what feels right in the moment.

What is your favorite ingredient to work with?

Coconut oil. It’s so healthy and versatile. There’s nothing butter can do that coconut oil can’t.

How does your personal style influence your brand, company, and products?

My personal style is everywhere in the bakery. I just deck the walls with things that I find inspiring, funny or meaningful to me; and after employees have been with the company long enough they begin to add to it. It’s like the bakery is one big collage of me and everyone who has done some serious time at BabyCakes.

How has your baking process changed since you started?

I suppose over the years I’ve stopped fretting over things looking perfect because I think it’s the imperfections in baked goods that make them look appealing and delicious. There’s something about a layered cake that’s slightly lopsided and smothered with gooey frosting that looks more enticing than a perfectly crafted fondant cake with airbrushed this or that and crazy sugar art. That’s not to say I don’t respect those who make that sort of thing – it’s just not who I am.

Where do you imagine you’ll take BabyCakes next?

My big goal is Japan, but I’d like to open a BabyCakes in most major cities.

Who would be a dream collaborator?

Hmm… A baking show with Zach Galifianakis doesn’t sound too bad…

What colors, patterns, and recipes are you drawn to right now?

For colors and patterns, I am always drawn to the aesthetic of Valley of the Dolls. For recipes, I’m getting really into making bread and pretzels, which I mastered for the BabyCakes App that’s coming out this fall.

What’s one tip you’d give to people getting into this business?

Don’t try to do what others are doing simply because they are successful. Find your own perspective, style and purpose and you will be successful and fulfilled.

Who do you look up to in your field?

Danny Meyer. He is one classy guy.

Lianna@SousStyle.com

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