As I walked into Emily’s large Brooklyn loft a few weeks back, my initial reaction was, “Man, I’m doing it all wrong.”
If her talents in the world of baking hadn’t of brought me there, I could have easily spent the hour snapping pictures of her beautiful space to share with you all. When one is in a creative field, having the right surroundings to work in is essential. As soon as I saw the cake Emily had made for us, it all started to make sense. Beautiful home, beautiful cake, beautiful girl… her world is sweet, and it was so fun to get a taste of it that day.
After being influenced by bakers in her family, Emily realized that it was possible to make a career out of doing what she loves, and thus, Lael Cakes was born.
She specializes in vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free cakes that incorporate fresh and local flavors. As soon as I had the pleasure of taste-testing one of her cakes, the thought and innovation that goes into her recipes was apparent. Her custom orders leave her busy on the decorating front, and I got to witness her art form first-hand. Layer by layer, I watched Emily decorate a naked cake and transform it into an edible masterpiece.
Get to know Emily a little bit better as she fills us in on her story and hands out a few decorating tips below. Try not to let your mouth water too much as you scroll through.
Where are you from? What inspired you to move to NYC?
I’m from Pennsylvania, and the ever-inspiring food industry inspired me to make the move to NYC.
What is your first memory with baking? Is it something that runs in your family?
My great grandmother, Ma, spinning around her kitchen, effortlessly baking her famous raisin-filled sugar cookies. She’d always let me pinch the edges shut. Over generations, my family has been involved in the food industry, from owning fresh fruit markets, to a family farm, to various restaurants. I’ve always been surrounded by inspirational people who make food out of a passion for sharing it with others.
What does a typical day in the life of Emily look like?
A typical day for me can be anything from baking, sugar sculpting, meeting with clients for tastings, creating custom sketches for orders, to delivering. One of my favorite aspects of being a small business owner is having my hand in the entire process. It can be a lot of hats to wear, but the final product and my personal relationships with my clients are well worth it!
Can you explain what exactly a “naked cake” is?
A naked cake is a layered cake that’s left un-iced to show delicious cakes layered with filling.
What are your favorite materials to use when it comes to sprucing up a cake?
As much as I love decorating a cake with handmade delicate sugar sculpture, fresh ingredients can be just as beautiful. Lately I’ve been using a lot of fresh fruit, flowers and gold leaf to easily spruce up a cake.
Could you lend us three helpful tips in terms of decorating?
1) Don’t over do it; covering an entire cake with decorations doesn’t necessarily make a spectacular design.
2) Never try to recreate a design exactly identical as another. I like to evolve designs even if they’re similar to another to create something completely unique.
3) When adding fresh fruit to a cake, use toothpicks to keep it in place.
Did you bake the cake for your own wedding?
My husband and I eloped in NYC and had a wedding party later that summer for our close friends and family to celebrate our love. For the special occasion, I made an elaborate dessert table that included salted caramel cups, naked cakes, pies, cheese towers, and to top it off, jars of milk to wash it down. It was a lot of work, but oh so worth every bite!
What was your fondest memory from that special day?
After Scott and I eloped we spent the day at the live butterfly show at the natural history museum. I couldn’t have dreamed of something so beautiful.
Where do you see the future of Lael cakes going?
I have a vegan & gluten-free cake design and recipe book that will be on shelves in Spring 2016. I’d love to continue to teach and take on custom orders for special occasions.
What does being ‘free’ mean to you?
Freedom is the privilege to have constant growth and movement.
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