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2 Marin residence bakeries for fancy cookies and desserts – Marin Impartial Journal

Alfie & Belle offers a wide range of treats. (Courtesy of Alfie & Belle Bakery)

Intricately piped, extraordinarily realistic buttercream floral arrangements festoon the sophisticated single and multi-tiered cakes made by Trang (pronounced Chang) Wiegel of Blooming Cakes, a bakery that she established in her Mill Valley home in 2019.

Beneath the edible artistry is one of six scratch-made layer cakes, a couple of which are dairy-free, gluten-free and/or vegan, that Wiegel meticulously crafts for weddings, birthdays, showers and other celebrations. Sizing starts at 6 inches in diameter, and all can be customized with requested color palettes and other design elements.

White velvet cake is filled with brown sugar caramel touched with Vietnamese espresso and frosted with Swiss meringue buttercream; citrusy lemon butter sponge cake has fresh raspberry compote and lemon curd inside and raspberry buttercream on top; and coconut sponge cake with pandan coconut curd filling is a vegan option inspired by Wiegel’s Asian heritage.

Originally from Vietnam, the pastry chef embarked on a new chapter in her life in 2016 when she moved to the United States, leaving behind her management position at a game startup.

Trang Wiegel is behind Blooming Cakes. (Photo by Weiye Liu)
Trang Wiegel is behind Blooming Cakes. (Photo by Weiye Liu)

Her transition from administrative office jobs she’s held in the U.S. to home-based baking was serendipitous. It began with making cheesecakes as a creative outlet, using recipes she found online.

“I burnt the first one so badly,” she says.

But refusing to give in to failure, she “took revenge on it,” not only mastering it but manipulating its caloric load to make a healthier version.

Wiegel moved on to special occasion cakes and got hooked not only on the baking but the beautifying. Her go-to for precision decorating is Swiss meringue buttercream that she notes is silkier and less aggressively sweet that the American version.

Honing her skills working part time in the bakery department of Whole Foods Market in Mill Valley, Wiegel was awarded best cake decorator in Northern California in 2019 for her chocolate devil’s food cake with roasted salted pistachio chocolate filling and cream cheese frosting.

“I still stand by it today,” she writes on her website. “It’s a combination that spoke to me when I asked myself, with only 30 minutes to prepare, ‘If California was a piece of cake, what would it taste and look like?’ My answer was earthy and nutty because (it’s) an agricultural powerhouse; salty because it’s surrounded by the ocean; and forested, because of its famous redwood forests. The pistachio and cream cheese frosting brings the nutty and salty flavors, and by decorating the cake with dark chocolate bark, (it) takes on the appearance of a redwood tree.”

Intensive training with renowned cake artists from Vietnam and Korea followed, including one-on-one sessions with a judge from the Korean Buttercream Association.

“Asia is the place of very beautiful realistic floral decorations for cake,” she says. “It’s a huge deal in Korea where there are academies, organizations and competitions.”

At Spruce in San Francisco, she delved deeper into the art of pastry-making and credits the award-winning restaurant for providing a solid foundation on making every element from scratch.

Submit inquiries, book a consultation and view the artistry at bloomingcakesus.com, where you can also find information on Wiegel’s monthly baking workshops for adults. For her children’s cupcake classes through Mill Valley Recreation, go to millvalleyrecreation.org.

Alfie & Belle

Strawberry resident Alfiya Rezepova’s home bakery business, Alfie & Belle, started out as a fun mother-daughter summer activity that leveraged her education in the arts and appealed to her 6-year-old’s fondness for crafting.

What it has become is a job that provides flexibility for the single mother while offering an opportunity to teach her daughter Annabelle the administrative aspects of running a business and the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Made-to-order frosted sugar cookie bouquets and holiday-themed pops, boxes and platters; French macaron gift boxes and table towers; and specialty cupcakes in fetching packaging are ready for a celebration. Rezepova also makes jam-filled linzer cookies, carrot cake cookies, crinkle cookies (double chocolate or red velvet matcha) and for vegans, muffins and Oreo cupcakes.

Rezepova regularly refines her repertoire, finding inspiration on YouTube and Pinterest, where she favors Asian and Eastern European baking channels for inventive design ideas and recipes with less sugar.

After leaving Russia two decades ago and studying art and architecture in Spain and South Korea, Rezepova most recently worked for Shef in San Francisco, an online marketplace where certified cooks can connect with and sell their homemade dishes to customers in their community.

Place orders for delivery at least two days in advance (more for larger orders) at alfieandbelle.com or by direct message on Instagram @alfieandbelle.

Leanne Battelle is a freelance food writer and restaurant columnist. Email her at ij.lbattelle@gmail.com with news and recommendations and follow on Instagram @therealdealmarin for more on local food and updates on the launch of The Real Deal Marin restaurant search guide.

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