Fashion Week’s Victorianna Cake

This past week I had the honor of participating in fashion week in an entirely new way: making an after-party cake for designer Anna Sui’s new VICTORIANNA collection launch. This season’s whimsical styles billowed like perfect buttercream and were as ethereal as poufs of drifting meringue. Sui’s designs were a nod to mid-20th-century fashion illustrator Lila de Nobili. Take a look at de Nobili’s illustrations, and you’ll understand their whimsical and gauzy allure.  Cupcakes shaped like roses and succulents were part of Sui’s mood board for this season, so my role in creating a pastry pairing built upon her already sugar-inspired collection.

Focusing on Sui’s affinity for purple in both her designs and branding, I composed a watercolor two-tiered cake with three layers per tier, each tier featuring ombre lavender layers. Ultra-moist almond cake was the luscious vehicle for layers of snappy lemon curd and bright raspberry jam. Everything was topped with an eye-opening lemon buttercream with refreshing pops of zest.  Frothy pink roses and edible wafer paper butterflies embellished the sides of the cake. 

This cake brought me to some of my favorite places in New York.  NY Cake, my second home, is a must-know for anyone who wants to up their own pastry game.  Wandering though gives me so much inspiration! Another stop, the flower district, continues to take my breath away whenever I walk through… I first became acquainted with the flower district when I began food styling in 2017 and was smitten with the glamorous early-risers and their important missions of buying candy-bright flowers for Vogue shoots.  The flower market opens around 5:30am, and shops begin closing around 10:30am; the early bird gets the bouquet.  

Monday of fashion week was one long list of logistics, and I went into a headspace where I just power through one task after another.  Even though my brain was in list-mode, I was able to appreciate the fact that every single cake process is a story.  Every cake is a mini hero’s journey of highs, lows, trials, romance, magic, and ultimate triumph.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe for two days straight while this two tiered buttercream beauty was under construction!

The first challenge is coaxing the buttercream to a perfectly smooth state. With buttercreams that contain abnormal shapes like bits of lemon zest, it’s hard to get it perfectly smooth. Challenge ACCEPTED. Blemishes drive me crazy. Marbling icing colors for a watercolor effect was an especially enjoyable part of the process. Then, if you’re delivering (and I was), there’s always a tense Uber ride where you’re clinging to the cake for dear life, lurching when the car lurches to counterbalance any unfortunate inertia. I had a hard time even lifting this cake, so enlisted the help of my boyfriend and most trusted assistant.  Putting the cake’s fate in the hands of anyone else is a terrifying prospect in and of itself.  There is such relief when the cake is finally GONE, out of your hands, to its final destination!

This is truly a cake that I am very proud of… I love when art mirrors art, and it was a treat to channel Anna Sui’s ethereal shapes and dreamy colors. What artist do you most want to see translated into cake form?  Be sure to comment with any suggestions!

Ups, Downs, and My Peach Upside Down Cake

I have butterflies about sharing my upcoming plans because there isn’t a simple path to success ahead… just my sheer willpower. I just turned 26 (still young, I know…) but it feels like I’m working against the clock to get my life started. Anxiety over when will I figure “it all” out is rampant. The only thing that’s keeping me sane is knowing that somehow, I’m getting closer and closer to the answer.

It doesn’t really make me feel less anxious to know that millennials are constantly hopping from job to job. It’s apparently a hallmark of the times. I may be happy-go-lucky Hadley Go Lucky, but the tumult underneath is REAL.

My past few years of sparkling, dazzling, gritty, defeating life in NYC have been full of growth and strength, even though it doesn’t always feel like it. Though it’s still a constant process, I’m healing and rising above some pretty unsettling health problems (erm… remember that time when I literally had tendonitis in both wrists from a combination of fibromyalgia and repetitively frosting cupcakes?)

Since those early pastry/fibromyalgia days, I’ve worked as a food stylist, helped to develop recipes for a bakery that I love, and survived a social media marketing job that tested my limits in every way. With a little boost from Cherry Bombe’s Cherry Bombe University last year (I had the opportunity to compete in their cookie bake-off!), I gained the confidence to quit my desk job and return to the New York dream of owning my own pastry company. The next step of my journey is a cake and cocktail/mocktail pop up in my Brooklyn neighborhood at the end of this month, celebrating nostalgia and back-to-school memories. I’m so excited to share fruity flavor pairings that I can’t get enough of.

Amidst all of these exhilarating landmarks of life, I’ve started building brand partnerships, studying the ever-shifting social media landscape, and am constantly seeking the most uplifting people that I can learn from. It’s a daunting task, but I try to learn a new thing every day.

I’m proud to be launching Hadley Go Lucky, the brand, in a very official way at last. And I’d love to help others out there who are looking to leverage social media to promote and build something that they love. In the coming months, I hope to not only share some of the pastry projects that I’m working on, but also provide tips for those of you who want to fashion your life in a similar way. I may very well be going through some of the same things as you; we are the side-hustle generation, after all! Let’s help each other.  I’m so excited to cover some of the following topics in the next few months:

  • How to get sponsors
  • How to create a branded pop-up
  • How to attract positive mentors
  • How to start a business
  • How to get the word out
  • How to leverage pastry school experience in the real world
  • How to leverage industry experience to do things your own way

The trick to getting anywhere you want to be is starting now. Between three restless years in NYC, I feel that I’m finally on track for accomplishing my goals. I put in the work and want to help you. Please do share your business goals in the comments, or topics that you want to learn more about!

On the topic of learning, I’ve whipped up a sweet recipe for you to try. A sweet friend of mine said that this cake was actually the best she had ever had in her life… so I am VERY pumped to share it!  This fine Stone Fruit Season, I decided to develop this Peach Upside Down Cake. The “Upside Down” seemed like an accurate metaphor for the constant ups and downs that come along with entrepreneurship.  This cake has a coffee cake consistency; it’s easy to make a few slices disappear over breakfast.  Bright peach slices cook to tender perfection when mixed with a thick brown sugar topping. Stone fruit season doesn’t last long – what are you waiting for?

Scroll down for the recipe!

 

 

Peach Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced peaches, with skin
  • 1 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 additional cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup half and half 
  • crème fraîche, for serving 
Instructions: 
  1. Heat 1/2 cup butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, stirring until sugar and butter are completely combined. Spread this mixture evenly in your pan.
  2. Cut peach slices and arrange them evenly over brown sugar mixture. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. In a stand mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in granulated sugar.
  5. Add egg and vanilla, beating until combined. Alternately add the flour mixture and cream to beaten butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
  6. Spread batter evenly over the peaches in the pan.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.
  8. Loosen cake from sides of pan; invert onto a large plate.
  9. Serve warm with crème fraîche, if desired. (I actually enjoyed it even more after the cake was chilled in the fridge!)