5 Favorite Things With Cake Life Bake Shop’s Lily Fischer
Four years ago, Lily Fischer was teaching preschool in Center City, and tapping into her love for baking for her own stress relief—and for the parents at her school who’d order up their kids’ birthday cakes when they’d hear word of her talent. This, she says, led to a “quarter-life crisis” where she quit her job, enrolled full time in the Philadelphia Art Institute’s Pastry program, grew her catering business, and committed fully to baking.
She wound up getting a call from Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and after a Rocky-themed audition tape landed her a spot on the show, she skipped her final exams to fly out to LA for the taping. She won the show, and with the prize money was able to invest in a commercial kitchen in the Global Dye Works building in Frankford. Cake Life Bake Shop was born.
She needed a partner, though, so she set about convincing her best friend from Sarah Lawrence, Nima Etemadi—who she had also convinced to come help her in LA on Cupcake Wars; it was only the third time they had ever baked together—to quit his job at Aperature magazine and come set up shop with her. It worked, and this summer, the two will open their first brick-and-mortar bakery with 18 seats, serving both sweet and savory pastries, Rival Bros. coffee, and by-the-slice and custom cakes. (Though until 1306 Frankford Ave. opens up, you can still schedule your wedding-cake tasting with the duo in their commercial kitchen, by appointment.)
Favorite flavor combo right now This is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! As of right now, my preferred cake flavors usually change with the seasons, so coming out of winter, where dark chocolate, caramel anything, and candied nuts were a big part of what I loved, I now find myself embracing spring flavors, like our Honey-Lavender cake! It’s a vanilla cake soaked with honey-lavender and white wine syrup, with a honey-goat cheese frosting. The flavor is complex and perfect with spring and summer on the horizon!
Favorite design you’ve ever made Anything with gold leaf on it! I’m also pretty proud of a lot of our wedding cakes, especially our buttercream cakes that we ombre using all-natural, house-made fruit compotes, like raspberry or blueberry. We also recently made a Le Petit Prince-themed cake for a baby shower where the dad to be was also a Batman fan, so we combined the two themes for a Little Bat Prince cake that turned out so adorably!
Favorite place to get inspiration for both flavors and design ideas I love looking at Instagram for design inspiration. We follow other bakers all over the world, and it is so inspiring to see what they are creating. While I may not always be able to read their captions, the photographs are truly universal. Right now, I am loving this one Russian baker whose designs are out of this world—so original and such clean execution! It is also cool just knowing what is trending in other parts of the world. Bakers tend to have a small local community, so it feels great to be a part of a more global scene.
For flavor ideas, Nima and I are always going out to eat, and being inspired by what this great city has to offer—plus, there’s the great local produce we find along the way. We also look to a lot of bakeries on the west coast, in California and British Colombia, mostly, as they are often trend setters for the rest of the country.
Favorite part about working with a couple on their wedding sweets We often say that the wedding-cake tasting is the best part of planning a wedding, and all of our couples agree! It’s so nice to see people who are stressed about planning just relax, eat cake, and basically play with flavor combinations for an hour. Especially if someone has been dieting, it’s nice to see them throw caution to the wind and just get down with eating dessert. I also love hearing how people meet—it must be the romantic in me!
Favorite family recipe Easter Lambie Cake! Before I had the bakery, I thought everyone knew what this was, but I quickly realized that it is more of a Fischer family tradition than I expected.
It’s basically a cake baked in a lamb mold, which is traditionally then fully frosted with toasted coconut on the outside. I can’t lie, they are kind of creepy—especially when you start slicing it!—but they are still really cute. In our family, my grandmother started the tradition, followed by my aunt, and now me, with a little guidance from my grandmother’s hand-written notes on the different recipes and techniques she tried going back to the 1970’s!
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