Such is the challenge for upstart bakers whose primary “storefront” is a part-real, part-virtual combination of farmers market stand and online ordering system. As the brain trust and elbow grease behind Whisked!, the two women are grateful for 1905’s affordable kitchen space, where they bake twice a week. But they’re also eager for the day when they can find a bigger one, preferably something that doesn’t require them to arrive before dawn so they can be out before lunchtime.
As Huntsberger puts it, “Getting up at 4 in the morning is killing me.”
The two met when Willis, the voice of the Adventures in Shaw blog, organized a charity bake sale at the 14th and U Farmers Market in fall 2009 featuring other local food bloggers. Soon, Willis started e-mailing baking questions to Huntsberger, who had been writing the ModernDomestic blog and quit her office job to pursue baking.
Meanwhile, 14th and U’s manager, Robin Shuster, was impressed with Willis’s organizational skills and asked Willis to fill a hole at the market, which was without a baker. “She knew I was into baking, and she’s very persistent,” said Willis, 35. At another bake sale at the D.C. State Fair, Shuster broached the idea again, and when Willis mentioned it to Huntsberger, the immediate response was, “Let’s do it!”
Five months of recipe testing, bureaucracy negotiating, kitchen-space hunting and business planning later, Whisked! was born. The mission: to sell baked goods that are “nostalgic but still appeal to an adult sensibility,” says Huntsberger, 29. (The business’s tagline is “Baking with Northern Style and Southern Charm,” to reflect Huntsberger’s upbringing in Oregon and Willis’s in Georgia.)
That means, for instance, that when Willis decided to make her grandmother’s 7-Up poundcake, relentless testing led her to replace half of the soda with fresh lemon and lime and to cut way back on the sugar. “We want you to think, ‘This reminds me of my childhood, but it’s so much better,’ ” Willis says. “We also don’t want to kill you.”
Cookies, naturally, have been a mainstay, around the holidays more than ever. When The Post asked them to develop recipes for our annual cookie section, they were elated, for a reason we hadn’t expected: “We really wanted to be able to use expensive ingredients,” Huntsberger confesses. “It was so liberating.”
We’re not talking gold leaf or anything. But for a small business, using dried cherries and pistachios such as those that go into the oatmeal cookies they designed might be foolhardy.