Sierra Madre native Brittainy Turnquist had to settle on northern California in order to persuade her East Coast man to move west. After they met and then graduated in 2005 from the CIA—the Culinary Institute of America situated in Hyde Park, New York along the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt—they moved to Yountville. In 2010, they moved to west L.A. then last December opened the Poppy Cake Baking Company in Sierra Madre. It may have taken eight years, but Brittainy was home.
Brittainy trained as a pastry chef while her husband Matthew took the savory side. The greatest challenge they’ve faced since opening 8 months ago?
“Adapting,” Brittainy says.
They opened Poppy Cake Baking Company to emphasize just that, their baked goods—breads, cakes, and pastries. What happened was unanticipated. Their salads, sides, and take-home dinners became the most popular items. Brittainy says Matthew and she finally stopped fighting the groundswell and, instead, expanded those areas in order to meet demand.
Brittainy uses rye flour from the mill Grist & Toll in Pasadena to add to her breads. When she uses 100% Grist & Toll wheat flower in the pastries you can definitely taste the difference, she says. Poppy Cake also buys organic, fresh, and local ingredients at the Pasadena and Santa Monica’s Farmers’ Markets, as well as California butter and dairy products.
Not only are the pastries and breads made fresh in-house, but Poppy Cake makes jams and Matthew roasts their meats, yes, in-house. Homemade roast turkey, roast beef, and free range poached chicken breast. For his roast beef, Matthew uses only eye of round and Wagyu beef, which has extra fat, i.e. extra flavor.
In their display case this afternoon, they have hummus without sesame but with avocado (a fan calls it “a party favorite”); beet salad with golden beets, cucumbers, red onions, and lemon vinaigrette; cole slaw with green and purple cabbage, dried cranberries, and sweet sesame dressing (no dairy); and pesto orzo without the pine nuts (they also sometimes have orzo antipasto-style and sometimes Matthew makes the pasta from scratch). One of the house favorites is the kale salad with lemon vinaigrette, shallots, pine nuts, and currants.
On the menu today for take-home meals are turkey chili, corn chowder, mac ‘n cheese, roasted tri-tip, bacon wrapped meatloaf with potato mash, and shrimp and Andouille sausage gumbo (pictured top right).
Our mouth is watering…
Poppy Cake Baking Company, 328 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre 91024. Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Tel.: 626.355.9000. Visit their Facebook page for details and daily specials.