Today I’m delighted to be given the chance to ask cookbook author, star of the food network tv show: Sugarush, and bakery owner Warren Brown a few questions about his books, his bakeries, and his life. And more importantly--how he does it all!
Most of you may know Warren from his hit tv show on food network Sugar Rush from 2005-2007. And you may also know him by the infamous bakery CakeLove in Washington, DC that he started after he left his career in practicing law. It was that bakery that started him on his journey to becoming a cookbook author first book CakeLove, then came United Cakes of America, CakeLove in the Morning, and most recently Pie Love (which is my favorite).
CakeLove from Scratch, United Cakes of America, CakeLove in the Morning, PieLove
I gave Warren a few extra questions because I'm so fascinated by how much he's done in his life, admired his dedication to taking on so much in his life; leaving a secure career to go off and do another chapter in his life.
Thank you to Warren for taking the time to answer each and every one of my questions!
Were there one or two defining moments that made you want to leave your career in law to open a bakery?
In the first three months of my job doing administrative litigation there was a Friday evening I was doing research for a case that one of my superiors asked me to work on. It was after hours, probably around 6/6:30pm. I walked out of my office to use the restroom and couldn’t help but notice how quiet it was. I just thought to myself, I’m ready to work hard, maybe harder than what’s expected of me here. I wanted to work hard and do it building something that I enjoyed.
Was it in fact a love of wanting to open a bakery or something else that led to the bakery?
Your first bakery CakeLove, was it pretty much hands on, work 16 hours days until you got the flow going? I know it can be hard laying down a “real routine” in bakeries.
In the article it read: ”….. at first, Brown took on cake baking as a hobby, teaching himself through cookbooks and an occasional professional class. He watched the faces of dinner guests light up when the cake came out….”
It’s hard to find time to talk in detail with bakery owners, but when you can grab as much time as you can and ask direct questions. If they don’t feel comfortable answering, then they won’t.
Many people respect someone who knows their stuff and asks the right questions, so do your homework.
There’s not a lot of downtime though.
How did that come about?
Cake and cream cheese icing layered together in 4 or 12 oz jars.
I’m pivoting CakeLove away from a business model focused on retail storefronts to wholesale supplier of a packaged consumer good.
I enjoy focusing our work on making the product and allowing the grocer retailer to handles retailing the product. I hope to make the full transition complete within the next 2 years.
We have many different bases and favor extensions off of each base. I only wish that the rest of the market fully appreciated the nuances of cooked buttercreams and what it takes to appropriately serve them – namely to not eat it cold. We never want people to eat cold cake and resorted to disclaimers of different sorts to give people the heads up. That was met with resistance of various sorts over the years.
You may be surprised to know how much push back and flak we’ve caught from critics to consumers because we make and stuck with cooked buttercreams all of these years, instead of just resorting to American Buttercream.
Why? Well, I really like to focus on specific ingredient flavors and let that item dictate what format it needs to be in for the best presentation of taste. Sometimes that means bending to the will of the food in order to capture the best of what it has to offer. Take strawberries, they’re fabulous in buttercream. We let the mixer beat freshly cut strawberries into Italian meringue buttercream.
Or a different way to feature coconut in buttercream, our “New German Chocolate” (also coconut buttercream in CakeLove)—it’s a coconut vanilla brown sugar buttercream that is built around a yolk based custard. Both of these have to be held under refrigeration b/c of the ingredients and method of production, but as long as it’s at room temperature when served, it’s fabulous. Really delicious.
I think the steps to necessary to serve it are just like chilling beer or bubbly before a party, setting out cheese so it’s not fridge cold when sliced and served, or setting out an ice cream cake to slightly thaw before it’s cut and served. Fine food requires a little work and cake is no exception.
Warren was kind enough to donate one lucky winner, one copy of each of his four cookbooks.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling us which one of Warren's books intrigues you most.
CakeLove - How to bake cakes from scratch
United Cakes of America - recipes celebrating every state
CakeLove in the Morning - recipes for muffins, scones, pancakes, waffles, biscuits & other breakfast treats
PieLove - recipes for sweet & savory pies, galettes, pastry cremes, tarts & turnovers
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Drawing will be held 2/24/14