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Interview with Erin McKenna of BabyCakes

Erin McKenna, the brains and beauty behind BabyCakes NYC, plans a bi-coastal takeover for the books.

This October, New York’s most charming baker is unleashing BabyCakes NYC on the West Coast. Erin McKenna, founder, owner, and full-time cupcake fiend, plans to expand her dessert empire with a new storefront in downtown LA. With her cookbook BabyCakes already in its third print run, this frosting-fueled powerhouse shows no signs of slowing down. VegNews caught up with McKenna for the inside scoop on what devotees, as well as cupcake converts, can expect this fall.

VegNews: What made you choose LA?
Erin McKenna: We noticed most of our shipments were headed to Los Angeles, and realized the bakery was exactly what LA needed. [BabyCakes NYC] will be located on 6th and Main, which is downtown. We really love how eclectic it is down there—lots of creativity and diversity. Plus, the buildings are old so we feel at home.

VN: How similar to BabyCakes NYC is the new shop?
EM: It will be just like walking in to the bakery in New York. We are keeping it small and maintaining the look we have. No new recipes, just the best of BabyCakes.

VN: We hear rumors about a dessert truck in the near future. Tell us more!
EM:I can’t really speak on it yet. Originally, I wanted to just have a dessert truck in New York before the store opened, but opted for the store instead. I’m considering doing it for LA to reach a bigger crowd, but we’ve noticed a lot of people following the trend now.

VN: How will you split your time between the two locations?
EM: I’ll be mostly in LA for the first six months until I think the bakery is ready to lose its training wheels. I’m afraid I’m going to miss New York, but I’ll be enjoying the sunshine and laidback vibe of LA. I have my core staff already hired, but I’ll be looking for frosting boys and girls! Positive attitude is a must!

VN: What do you recommend a first-time visitor try?
EM: The cookie sandwich or brownies, for sure.

Crush-worthy Corn Bread
(adapted from BabyCakes by Erin McKenna)

BabyCakes NYC’s fame need not be limited to their frosting shots or scrumptious cupcakes. The savory side is just as sweet, as Erin’s favorite bakery item is sure to prove.

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 7 x 4 x 3-inch loaf pan with oil.
  2. Pour rice milk and vinegar into a small bowl, but do not stir; set aside to form “buttermilk.” In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add oil, agave, applesauce, and vanilla. Stir until combined. Pour in “buttermilk.” Mix gently until ingredients are fully incorporated and batter is slightly grainy.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on center rack for 32 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes. The finished bread will bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted in center will come out clean.
  4. Let cool for 20 minutes before running a knife along the edge of the bread. Cover the top with a cutting board, and invert the loaf onto the board. Re-invert, cut, and serve warm. Store uncut bread at room temperature for up to three days.

Photo of McKenna (second from left) and confectionery cohorts courtesy of Clarke Tolton.

What you need:

  • 2/3 cup rice milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free All-purpose Baking Mix
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for the pan
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 7 x 4 x 3-inch loaf pan with oil.
  2. Pour rice milk and vinegar into a small bowl, but do not stir; set aside to form “buttermilk.” In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add oil, agave, applesauce, and vanilla. Stir until combined. Pour in “buttermilk.” Mix gently until ingredients are fully incorporated and batter is slightly grainy.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on center rack for 32 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes. The finished bread will bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted in center will come out clean.
  4. Let cool for 20 minutes before running a knife along the edge of the bread. Cover the top with a cutting board, and invert the loaf onto the board. Re-invert, cut, and serve warm. Store uncut bread at room temperature for up to three days.

Photo of McKenna (second from left) and confectionery cohorts courtesy of Clarke Tolton.

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