Meet Tessa Huff
How did you get into baking, and how were you trained?
I started baking at the UC Davis coffee house while I was working on my B.A. in communication. I found that I much preferred work to class, so after graduation and a year working behind a desk, I started working at a local bakery. I've had years of on-the-job training as a cake decorator and pastry chef, including those spent running my own bakery. In addition, I took specialty cake courses in New York and at the French Pastry School in Chicago.
What was it like to own a bakery?
Owning a bakery was a thrilling, exhausting, and extremely rewarding experience. Finding balance between the actual baking and all of the other aspects of running a business (emailing clients, ordering supplies, etc.) was difficult. However, nothing beats getting to bake and create in a professional kitchen every day or presenting a bride or client with a magnificent cake.
What’s your favorite thing to bake?
Layer cakes are definitely my specialty, but I love to bake nearly everything — at least once. I tend to go through phases — like when I was determined to master French macarons or vowed to make the perfect pie crust. Right now I'm all about sweet yeast breads (like cinnamon rolls) and different caramel sauces — perfect for the cooler weather.
You just wrote a book, right? Tell us all about it! When does it come out?
Yes! Thank you for asking. The book is called Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes (Abrams, April 2016)and it is all about layer cakes - baking, building, and styling them. From cakes and fillings to frostings and edible garnishes, I'm sharing 150 recipes plus some tips and tricks for creating your own sky-high cakes at home. I've paired both classic and contemporary decorating techniques with amazing flavors like pumpkin vanilla chai, bourbon butterscotch, raspberry chocolate stout, and mango coconut cream. I styled and photographed the images myself, and I can't wait to share it with everyone.
Thanks so much, Tessa!
The Kitchn Team Behind Baking School
Tessa is your primary instructor on Baking School, but The Kitchn team here also played a big role.
Emma Christensen our Recipe Editor helped shape and guide the whole structure of the class, and provided editing and oversight for Baking School so consider her one of your instructors as well!
Christine Gallary our Cooking Editor helped edit and research and also ran our shoot for Baking School. She even lent her brand-new, never-been-cooked-in-yet kitchen in San Francisco for the shoot!
Ariel Knutson, our Engagement Editor, is the voice behind the encouragement and good ideas surrounding Baking School on social media, including some of our home work assignments.
Melissa Ryan of Marble and Rye Photography, speaking of photoshoots, is the visual eye behind the gorgeous photos you see here.
Lindsay Ribe, our designer, created the lovely graphics.