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How-To

From Retro Cakes to Whimsical Candies

Fine Cooking Issue 78
Photos: Thor Swift
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When the dot-com bubble burst in the Bay Area at the turn of the millennium, Megan Ray got bit by the baking bug and couldn’t shake it off. She’d always loved to bake, but it wasn’t until she was laid off that she got serious about it. She started Miette Pâtisserie without fanfare, selling cakes at the Berkeley farmers’ market. Business was good and a couple of years later, with partner Caitlin Williams (also a dot-com casualty), she grabbed the opportunity to open a cake store in San Francisco’s then-new Ferry Building. From day one, they had a clear vision for their cakes’ aesthetics: retro yet simple and modern, with a playful “girlie” sensibility. They were also strict about using only the freshest ingredients—organic and sustainably produced whenever possible—from nearby family farms and mills.

 

Chocolate-covered toffee with toasted almonds is one of the candy store’s best sellers.
Co-owner Caitlin Williams packages toffee fresh from Miette’s kitchen.

Miette was such a hit that customers clamored for another store in the city. But instead of replicating the pâtisserie, Megan and Caitlin recently opened Miette Confiserie, a charming candy store in the Hayes Valley district, complete with huge glass candy jars, lollipop trees, and candy bouquets. The shelves abound with rare, nostalgic, and humorous candies from small bakeries and candy stores all over the United States and Europe, along with sweets handmade by Bay Area artisans and in the bakery’s own kitchen, from candied popcorn and cotton candy to rich, crunchy, ultrathin chocolate-and-nut-coated toffee. For more information, visit MietteCakes.com

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