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Batter Chatter: Interview with Trilly Nguyen of whiskie bits Bakeshop

They say that while cooking is an art, baking is a science. Well, we don't know who "they" are but obviously they've never tried anything by whiskie bits Bakeshop. This Oakland-based special-order bakery's (no retail storefront at this point) menu has possibly the most avant-garde yet dazzling menu we've ever seen, with cupcakes available in flavors like Horchata (horchata cake, almonds with horchata cream cheese frosting) and Curry Carrot (carrot cake, curry spice, pistachios, almonds with cardamom-curry cream cheese frosting); cookies come in flavors like Wasabi and Black Sesame with White Chocolate and Thai-basil Lemon. They even have a series of "intoxicating" cupcakes, a naughty collection of adults-only boozy treats; all in all, we'd call it an artistic and delicious array. Cakespy was able to catch up recently with the eclectic, fearless head baker Trilly Nguyen; here's what we found out about creative baking, keeping your cakes seasonal, and why pie just might be the new cake:

Cakespy: Are you formally trained as a baker?
Trilly Nguyen: No, my experiences come from my mother (a former pastry chef who specialized in wedding cakes), working professionally in the industry, and spending most of my free time baking and experimenting.

CS: You don't have a storefront...other than by special order, can individual customers buy your baked goods at any stores or coffee shops?
TN: Right now, unfortunately no. But within the next year, whiskie bits products can be found at some local specialty retail stores and shops in the Bay Area.

CS: You have such unusual flavors...have you ever had a combination or recipe that just didn't work out?
TN: Yes, of course. Not all of my ideas and recipes work out perfectly. I am always testing out flavor combinations and using friends and families as my tasting guinea pigs.

Cakespy Note: We'd be her guinea pigs any day.

CS: What is your personal favorite cake flavor from your offerings?
TN: It depends on my mood and the weather. Sounds slightly odd, but if the weather is too warm, I like to eat a flavor that is light in texture, and vice-versa. That is why I offer seasonal flavors. So, during the summer time, I love the Hong Corn (a combination of fresh corn with coconut and salted peanuts). It reminds me of childhood and is a tribute to my mom, who would make one of my very favorite Vietnamese tapioca desserts with fresh corn and coconut. Right now, since it's fall, I am loving the Persimmon Penuche and the Bourbon Oat.

CS: You offer "intoxicating" alcohol-laced cupcakes. Will they give customers a buzz?
TN: Depends on the flavor. But overall, yes. You will get a slightly sweet buzz from all of the intoxicating flavors.

CS: Some people say that pie is going to be the next cupcake-type baking trend. What do you think?
TN: Sure, why not? I love pie as well, and I could see the endless possibilities in flavor combinations...

CS: What is the most important aspect in making a good cupcake?
TN: Quality ingredients and good technique. Baking is never worth it if you do not have the best quality ingredients. To me, baking is so time-consuming that it is only worth it if you start out with the finest ingredients. That's half the battle. The other half is learning good basic baking techniques.

CS: What is the best time of day to eat cake or cookies?
TN: Any time, of course. But instinctively, I would say breakfast time and late at night (right before bed time). What's better than waking up in the morning and ending the day with a sweet treat.

CS: What's next for whiskie bits?
TN: More new and unusual yummy flavor combinations.

CS: Any TTA (Trilly's trusted advice) for budding bakers?
TN: Read my answers for making a good cupcake (above). Also, trust your instincts and judgment. Sometimes things work and sometimes, they don't. Just accept that and move on. In the end, things always have a way of working out.

For more information on whiskie bits Bakeshop, visit whiskiebits.com. If you're in the Bay Area and would like to place an order, give them a call at (510) 658-8284.

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Reader Comments (9)

Hi: I just found about you too, in Everybody loves sandwiches. Totally wonderful, your drawings are beautiful and the subject of course is very sweet. I´m loving it.

November 29 | Unregistered Commenterlobstersquad

Hey, just spotted your latest comment on my blog. Yes I would love to be interviewed for your blog! Sounds like fun! Just let me know. =)

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterCulinarily Obsessed

*drools over keyboard*

This is NOT a good sign, especially being broke (on a library computer) wishing she could pay for "a minimum order of 6 dozen" mini whiskiebits...they live an inch away from me!

A sad day for mankind and me :(

I was going through her site u nder "Fragrantly Spicy" just read this:

"Tamarind Date
Tamarind cake, medjool dates, cashews, Indian spices with tamarind and caramel cream cheese frosting"

If you looked in the dictionary under "exotic cupcake" that's what I would hope to see.

Anyway. Her advice is ace. I can't wait to start getting fresh ingredients straight from a burlap sack.

cakespy you guys ever visit San Francisco let me know and I'll bring you a batch of flavors to test out! The local bookstore gets your position until then. ;)

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterCupcake Monster

lovely interview!! I like the answer to the question about when the best time of day is to eat cake or cookies :0)

oh and I just HAVE to tell you how unbelievably gorgeous the photographs and illustrations are, on your blog - stunning!

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

Lobstersquad: We are obviously kindred spirits! You are on my bookmarks, and now, my link list! :-)

Culinarily Obsessed, awesome! I will start thinking of some questions. Sweet!

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Nice photos. Those look delish!

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

i'm drooling all over those pictures.

November 30 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Nieto

Laura, they do, don't they? I wish I had one right now...too bad Trilly's in the Bay area whilst we languish in Seattle.

Amy, me too!

November 30 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

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