Welcome to the second post in our Meet our Makers interview series! With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we thought this was the perfect time of year to feature Brooks Nguyen, founder of Dragonfly Cakes Bakery.
Not only did Brooks leave her corporate gig to spend more time with her family and launch Dragonfly Cakes Bakery, she’s also a lover of all things sweet, especially petit fours. These small, delicate cakes are not only delicious (and “just so fun!”as Brooks says), but they can actually improve your attitude. We agree – enjoying some of Dragonfly Cakes’ petit fours might just be the key to happiness! And if you just can’t wait for your cakes to arrive (or you’re sending some directly to mom) simply test out Dragonfly Cakes’ amazing lemon pound cake recipe below – we guarantee the first bite will make you smile.
You’ve been baking since childhood, how did you decide to leave corporate life and launch a career making cakes in Sausalito?
I love cake, and I wanted a lifestyle that incorporated family and work. I also love being a business owner. I like the challenges and it is nice to be able to focus on my family at the same time.
Dragonfly Cakes’ specialty is the petit four, describe what makes these tiny delectables so delightful?
Have I mentioned that I love cake? I have a huge sweet tooth and love that petit fours combine intricate decorations and layers of cake. Plus, a small cake is just so fun!
Cakes are great for a variety of occasions, is a certain time of year your busiest?
What is your most popular cake flavor/frosting combination?
Well, I love them all, but coffee, vanilla, and lemon are my three go-to flavors.
Northern California is exceptionally beautiful, any favorite spots for a Mother’s Day picnic?
I love Point Reyes – it’s one of my favorite areas.
Do you eat at least one petit four everyday? If so, is that the secret to happiness?
I do eat petit fours everyday. I am a big believer that eating dessert everyday helps you have a good attitude.
In one or two words, what comes to mind when you hear the word ‘cake’?
Yumm…where is it and can I have a slice?
Thank you for baking our delicious Mother’s Day Petit Fours, and for granting us an interview during one of your busiest times of the year! Can you share a favorite recipe from The Petit Four cookbook with us?
Yes, I’m happy to share my lemon pound cake recipe.
- 1¾ cups (195g) plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ (60ml) cup sour cream
- 1½ tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
- 1 cup (225g) granulated sugar plus 2 additional tablespoons
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
- Syrup gets added to each of the layers to increase the intensity of the flavor of the cake and buttercream but also to keep the cake moist
- ¼ cup (55g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (110 g) hot water
- ¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
- 4 sticks of unsalted butter
- 1⅔ cup of custard
- 3 teaspoons lemon extract
- 1 ½ cups Sugar + 4 tablespoons
- 4 cups Whole Milk
- 2 tablespoons Cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease or line a 6" X 6" square cake pan
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes
- After the cake cools, slice into three (3) even horizontal layers.
- Discard the extra cake
- Add the sugar to the hot water
- Stir until the sugar dissolves
- After the sugar mixture cools to room temperature, add the lemon juice
- Soften the butter
- Whisk in a mixer or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy
- The butter will increase in volume and the color of the butter will lighten
- Add the custard mixture
- Add extract, mix until the flavor is well incorporated
- Add the 1 ½ cups sugar to the milk and warm in medium high in a thick bottomed pan
- In a separate bowl combine the cornstarch and 4 tablespoons sugar
- When the milk mixture feels warm to the touch, but not hot, take ¾ of a cup from the pan and add to the cornstarch and sugar mixture, mix until smooth
- Continue to heat the remaining milk until it reaches a boil
- When the milk mixture boils, whisk in the cornstarch, sugar, milk mixture
- Cook until thick
- Once thick, remove from heat, pour into a sheet pan to cool
- Refrigerate until ready to use
- Alternate layers of cake with the fillings, chill until firm.
- Cut into desired size, frost with buttercream, and decorate.
- Eat cake!