Lulu Cake Boutique has built its lauded reputation on its decadent cakes alone. The vast majority of the sophisticated bakery’s daily offerings, all of which secondary to the custom made-to-order cakes, are made with a cake base—like my favorites, the red velvet Twinkie and black and white “cookies.” The three-location Lulu’s narrow focus has allowed the hardworking team to excel in cake creation, astounding guests at any affair.
Revered on the Food Network, Cooking Channel, Martha Stewart, and more, Lulu is named for co-owner Jay Muse‘s German Shepherd. Muse—a pastry chef for twenty years who has worked with cake masters like Colette Peters and Sylvia Weinstock—opened the first Lulu in Manhattan about fifteen years ago, expanding next to Scarsdale and finally Brooklyn. He has no current plans to open any additional branches, for fear of stretching his team too thin. Lulu of Brooklyn is strictly kosher and currently booked through 2016—Muse was quickly able to monopolize the growing kosher cakes market. All Lulu outputs can also accommodate gluten-free, allergen-free, and vegan diets.
Each Lulu Cake Boutique bakes cakes for special occasions of any kind, but the majority of orders come from brides-to-be—accounting for thousands per year across all three stores. The bakery is nearly booked through June of 2015 for weddings at this point, so hustle if you want in! Custom cakes, depending on the extravagance, must be ordered anywhere from two weeks to six months in advance.
In terms of preparation, wedding cakes takes anywhere from six hours to three days to produce. In the Scarsdale location, which I recently visited, there is a special room designated for cake decoration. The room is temperature-controlled to approximately 42 degrees to keep cakes adequately refrigerated. This state-of-the-art bakery feature is unique to Lulu. I was actually unable to peek inside to see the room because the team was hard at work on an order for an upcoming party…for Madonna. Awesome!
Scrolling through Lulu’s photo gallery, you can see for yourself the breadth of their bakers’ creativity and remarkable precision. Their current bestselling cake is the “Kettle Corn Crunch:” yellow cake, kettle corn buttercream, NYC rooftop honey, popcorn crunch, sea salt. Wow. Celebrity customers, of which there are many, are loving a dark chocolate cake with caramel sea salt, chocolate covered fresh pretzels, and Guinness ganache.
Muse shared that the coolest cake he’s ever designed involved a basketball suspended in mid air so it appeared to be “swishing” through the net. It’s clear he loves a good challenge: he lit up when talking about working with cakes that have pyrotechnics and/or motors in them or cakes that require designing difficult shapes.
I was pleased to learn that Lulu makes a concerted effort to be earth-friendly, specifically in the packaging and equipment the establishment uses. Staff makes deliveries out of eco-friendly vans and recycles religiously. This same environmental consciousness is applied to ingredient selection: the bakery uses all-natural vegetable dye and zero preservatives. Flour, sugar, and eggs are all organic, and fresh fruit hails from farms throughout the Hudson Valley.
Other cool products are sourced locally for incorporation into cakes, like Hudson Baby bourbon. There’s no question that in many aspects of the cake business, Muse’s team is constantly innovating in order to remain on the cutting edge.
Muse sent me on my way with an armful of Lulu goodies for sampling, and one was better than the next. I appreciated the cute stickers on each box telling me how to best preserve and consume each item. Consider this chic shop formally on my radar for both special nights and random cravings (…my birthday’s in November, hint hint).