Twenty-five-year-old home baker Audrey Villalpando is now open for business.
Self-taught, she draws inspiration and instruction from social media, and loves the new challenge of fulfilling a large catering order – solo. As the only person in her small business, The Gilded Kitchen, she’s often tasked with making it work in the kitchen of her Covina home. We sat down to chat with her about baking trends, her favorite L.A. bakeries and the baking essentials she can’t live without.
Q: What do you make that’s unique?
A: I make bite-sized desserts, like mini tarts filled with pastry cream, ganache, caramel or fruit curd. Anything that can be done on a large scale, I can make mini-sized, which is perfect for parties and dessert bars.
I also offer cake truffles or cake pops. Those I can do in a couple of different flavors, and I bedazzle them. They’re delicious. They look really amazing. I use edible glitter and sanding sugar that has kind of a sparkle to it, so they’re just really eye-catching. Or I’ll use metallic paints or gold leafing.
I’ve also been doing cookie cakes. I make a slab of butter cookie and I cut it into the shape of a heart or a letter with a razor or a sharp knife. Then I’ll bake two layers and just kind of stack them, like a cake. Then they’re decorated with different accoutrements like my truffles or florals, fresh fruit.
Q: What sets your recipes apart?
A: I use salted butter in all of my baking, which I know a lot of other bakers would not recommend. But that’s just something I find gives my baked items a little more oomph. I don’t like items that are overly sweet, so I will try to develop recipes that use less sugar.
Q: What are your favorite bakeries in L.A.?
A: I love Seed Bakery in Pasadena. They have really great items. They’re using artisan flour, which I think is exciting when bakers start experimenting with different flours. There’s a flour mill in Pasadena called Grist & Toll. I like using their flours, not for everything, because they’re pretty pricey and they have really different flavor notes, but I like places that make thoughtful items that you can tell they’ve really planned out.
Another one is Little Flower Candy Co. in Pasadena. I love that place. It’s a candy shop and a bakery, they just make delicious items. They’re all very different than what I create. When I do choose to indulge my sweet tooth I tend to go with items that are not overly sweet and are interesting. I like trying new interesting things that maybe I’m not producing myself.
Q: What have you tried recently?
A: I like gourmet plays on American classics, like an updated pie or an updated s’more. Maybe they’re using a really high-quality chocolate or they’re making their graham cracker with a certain type of flour.
Q: What baking trend are you really sick of?
A: Unicorn stuff. I’ve seen that it’s so overplayed. No more unicorn horns and all that nonsense. I just tend to not really like things that are gimmicky. It’s good to hop on a trend if that can help your business, but that trend needs to die.
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