Collaborating on special creations can do wonders for the success of any retail bakery.
In Los Angeles, newcomer Little House Confections, a unique bakery that grew out of a small-scale charitable campaign, recently unveiled a limited-edition cake tin that is created in collaboration with the Los Angeles-based artistic duo The Haas Brothers.
Founded in April 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis by Liz Roth and Jaymie Wisneski, Little House Confections is rooted in social entrepreneurship and finding opportunities to make significant impact by donating a portion of profits each month to a separate community organization.
Through this inaugural artist collaboration, an extension of The Haas Brothers’ work with sculptural objects, the edition seeks to celebrate community and inspire change at a crucial moment, with 100% of all profits from the edition donated to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“We did not expect to start a business in the middle of a global pandemic,” the bakery’s co-founder Liz Roth says. “It was a simple idea to bake a cake that I had baked a million times before for my family and sell them to benefit the Covenant House of California. We honestly thought it would be 30 cakes.”
But the idea that friends and strangers alike not only loved their cakes but were so enthusiastic to participate in fundraising truly motivated the bakery owners. The charitable giving aspect of the business is the cornerstone of Little House Confections.
As part of the bakery’s first art and design collaboration, The Haas Brothers created a bespoke design that speaks to the current moment. Continuing their artistic practice resulting in playful, psychedelic sculptures, the cake-tin design shows two cheerful animal-like figures in warm embrace.
“Liz and I work super effectively as a team,” co-founder Jaymie Wisneski says. “Since we both come from such creatively disciplined backgrounds, with her having been an interior designer and my production experiences combined, it was only a matter of time before art naturally worked its way into our conversations. The decision to do a collaborative tin was in large part a belief that we share in being able to create a part of our business that can elevate the everyday, and maybe try to take some art out of the conventional gallery space and aim to make it more of an experience.”
Through this and forthcoming collaborations, their popular olive oil cake is intended to become a vehicle for raising the spirits of the Los Angeles area and celebrating community support through art and design. At the intersection of collaboration and socially conscious entrepreneurship, both Little House and The Haas Brothers hope to generate viral popularity into concrete social and cultural change.
The bakery’s co-founders began baking olive oil cakes at home as part of a small-scale charitable campaign benefiting Covenant Home Health of California. Their cakes rapidly became popular among entertainment and cultural circles, prompting them to found Little House Confections as a business rooted in social entrepreneurship and finding opportunities to make significant impacts. Each month, Little House Confections donates a portion of profits to a separate community organization, along with “donation cakes” that are delivered to hospital workers each week.
In other pastry developments across the country, top pastry chefs at restaurants are coming up with creative collaborations that take innovation to new heights.
In Chicago, following executive chef Marcos Campos’ lead, the desserts at Mama Delia from executive pastry chef Shannah Primiano find inspiration in classic Spanish sweet dishes before channeling more contemporary techniques and intriguing ingredient pairings.
In her hands, Tarta De Santiago, a traditional Galician almond flour cake that has earned PGI (protected geographical indication) status, gets a red-wine glaze and is served with apple sorbet, sherry apple butter and almond nougatine.
“I always hint back to nostalgia in my desserts to create something people can relate to,” Primiano says. “Then I like to throw in something people wouldn’t expect, so they can view a classic dessert or flavor with a whole new vision.”
To remain innovative, pastry professionals crave new ideas from top educators in the field. Geared for pastry professionals, The Butter Book website and online program bring innovations directly to pastry chefs and bakers by delivering online content that affords chefs the convenience to access detailed online tutorials that deliver immediate practical solutions for the production of cakes and French pastries.
The French Pastry School’s Jacquy Pfeiffer, chef and co-founder of The Butter Book, is well versed in the artistry and practicality of working with puff pastry dough. Here is, for example, one valuable lesson about butter, as presented by Pfeiffer during a recent online tutorial lesson.
“Use butter with at least 82% fat content,” he recommends. “Less fat means more water. If you have butter with water, this puff pastry is going to rise like crazy at first, but then collapse.”
By visiting the website thebutterbook.com, pastry chefs and bakers learn the proper way to master details, enabling them to create something brand new out of flour, butter, and sugar. You can start with basic elements like meringue and buttercream and then use them 15 different ways to create macarons, layered cakes, and éclairs. Topics covered on the website range from the classic French pastry experience to intricate cake decorating techniques.
Pfeiffer brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his craft. As a son of a baker, he first learned his baking talents working at his father’s boulangerie and then later as an apprentice with the famous Chef Jean Clauss at Jean Clauss Pâtisserie in Strasbourg, France. Following his apprenticeship, he graduated from Baldung Grien College with a degree in pastry science prior to entering the French Navy, where he performed as a pastry chef.
In 1995, Chef Pfeiffer co-founded – along with Chef Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F. – The French Pastry School in Chicago, which is one of the highest-ranking pastry schools in the world.