BERLIN – The #honeywhiskeycake has come to Berlin.
Chris Poeschl and Tony Lanuza — better known as the Brooklyn Baking Barons — have brought their signature cake to Berlin with a new retail shop at 16 S. Main St. The cake, which garnered national attention when hosts of ABC’s “The Chew” tweeted about it, highlights the shop’s menu of desserts. Poeschl and Lanuza are eager to bring their wares to Berlin.
“Everybody’s been so welcoming,” Lanuza said. “We can’t wait for what’s next.”
As their name suggests, Lanuza and Poeschl got their start in Brooklyn. Poeschl, an actor, and Lanuza, a costume designer, had always enjoyed cooking but kept it to entertaining in their home.
“We’re fearless in the kitchen …,” Lanuza said. “In Brooklyn it’s cheaper to have people over than to go out to dinner.”
Money being tight, when it came time for Poeschl’s birthday one year Lanuza offered to make him a cake rather than buy him a gift.
“I said I’d like a rum cake but not a rum cake,” Poeschl said.
And so Lanuza created the honey whiskey cake, an incredibly moist and buttery bundt cake.
“It was an awesome birthday present,” Poeschl said.
Friends encouraged he and Lanuza to market the cake and their other delicious desserts. Though they tried sharing recipes online, their skills in the kitchen didn’t truly come to the public’s attention until they were offered the chance to create a dessert menu for a New York restaurant.
“They said to bring in eight desserts for them to try and they’d pick four,” Lanuza said. “They picked all of them.”
When the restaurant closed for renovations, he and Poeschl created a website to sell their desserts online.
“It snowballed from there,” Poeschl said.
That’s because the pair had the foresight to bring some of their products to a 2014 taping of “The Chew.” Thanks to their own acting and behind-the-scenes experiences, they knew better than to just bring a cake for the show’s hosts. They brought enough cake for the crew too.
“We just gave it to them and hoped for the best,” Poeschl said.
That’s all it took.
“Within two blocks of us leaving, they started tweeting about it,” Lanuza said.
The show’s personalities raved about the cake on social media. Daphne Oz went a step further and sent one to Ree Drummond, the force behind the increasingly popular Pioneer Woman brand. Drummond put the honey whiskey cake on her holiday gift guide in 2015.
Needless to say, Poeschl and Lanuza are now full-time bakers. After starting their business in a Brooklyn space so small they couldn’t face each other, they opted to move south to expand. Lanuza’s parents live in Ocean View and it wasn’t long before he and Poeschl decided to set up shop in Berlin, where they were able to find a storefront as well as a separate commercial baking space to work in. They’re now able to make 1,000 cakes a day — three times the amount they could produce in Brooklyn.
“It was an easy transition,” Poeschl said, pointing out that the bulk of sales were still through the website so location didn’t matter.
And just how does the mail order business work? On their website, Poeschl and Lanuza offer a number of desserts available as bite size snacks or party-sized cakes. Once customers place an order, the Brooklyn Baking Barons bake it and vacuum pack it to ensure freshness. The U.S. Postal Service does the rest.
Though they launched the business with just the honey whiskey cake, the pair has expanded it to include a variety of other dessert items. New are the churro cake — think cinnamon and sugar — as well as the limoncello poppy seed cake.
“It tastes like summer,” Poeschl said. “It’s kind of like lemonade in cake form.”
Lanuza says they’ve also started making tea that will be available in the Berlin shop.
“Everything we do is unique,” he said.
“We have a small line of products but we like to keep it that way because everything is handmade by the two of us.”
For more information on the Brooklyn Baking Barons, look them up on Facebook or visit bkbarons.com. Though they’re still settling in to their new retail space, they encourage community members to stop by the shop on Main Street, which is located next to the Berlin Visitor Center. The store will be open until 7:30 p.m. on weeknights and on weekends until 9 p.m.