Banana bread and sourdough are having a great year. By now, you can count the number of friends who haven’t baked a loaf while in isolation on one hand. It makes sense: both are inexpensive and require ingredients you already have. So it’s only fitting that the next viral baked good uses another kitchen staple: olive oil.
You’ve likely seen one particular olive oil cake on the Kardashian-Jenner sister’s Instagrams in recent weeks. You know the one: a perfectly round, amber loaf that is liberally covered with a powdered-sugar dusting. Or, as the pioneers of the Instagram sensation Liz Roth and Jaymie Wisneski, call it: a 'bomb ass olive oil cake.'
'In the beginning of quarantine, I was baking a lot for my friends and decided to send a cake to one of our chef friends, and she loved it so much,' says Roth, the LA-based baker behind the viral cake. 'Jaymie and I looked at each other and thought it would be great to sell the cakes for charity. We thought we would be making 30 cakes and giving $100 or so to charity.'
Like many others, Roth and Wisneski, an interior designer and producer respectively, were out of work when the COVID-19 crisis hit. In mid-April, the two started baking cakes for charity out of Roth’s kitchen (founding their bakery titled Little House Confections) and spreading the word by mouth of friends and family in the area.
But what started as a small charitable initiative became a full-fledged business after celebrities sent the cake into a viral frenzy.
'What really popped it is was that one of my childhood best friends bought a cake for Kim Kardashian,' explains Roth. 'Then we saw the Harper’s BAZAAR photoshoot with Laura Harrier using the cake as an accessory, and we were like, "Okay, this shit is real."'
Within hours of Kardashian posting the olive oil cake to her Instagram stories, Little House Confections had over 500 orders. 'Before we made our first cake, we had over $1,000 in orders,' adds Wisneski. 'It was major.'
Other celebrities and influencers followed suit and began ordering cakes of their own, including Camille Rowe, Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Shay Mitchell, and Phoebe Tonkin, who personally texted Wisneski to order the baked good.
Roth, who spent years perfecting the recipe, claims the moisture level in the cake coupled with the local ingredients make it addicting. 'Even if you eat it three days later, the moisture content is so high that every bite tastes like a spongy, citrusy, olive oil slice of heaven.'
A post shared by BOMB ASS OLIVE OIL CAKES (@littlehouseconfections) on Apr 27, 2020 at 12:52pm PDT
Aside from the delectable taste and stamp of approval from A-listers, the experience of receiving this exclusive-yet-chic cake added to the hysteria.
'It’s new, it comes from the internet, it's from a secret address, it’s hard to find, we’re hard to find. These are all elements that created this beautiful little tornado of frenzy,' says Wisneski. 'Plus, we worked on boxing it to perfection. The experience of receiving one and opening it is very special and personal.'
The two put their interior design and photography skills together to create an eye-catching aesthetic suitable for Instagram. 'There's a ritual to opening it: you get this beautiful brown cardboard box,' says Wisneski, who handwrites the notes for every order.
A post shared by Daniela Mota (@sunnydaniela) on May 23, 2020 at 3:17pm PDT
'To open it, you pull a piece of delicate twine with a fresh olive brand attached, and immediately get hit with this whiff of freshly baked cake that is slightly warm,' she says. 'There's a fresh sprig of rosemary we've pillaged from Liz's yard directly in the centre of the cake and it's freshly powdered.'
Even though cake is only available to LA locals (right now), the duo is busy fulling hundreds of orders a day. 'Customers come to my house in troughs like zombies exactly at 2 p.m. every day,' adds Roth.
When delivering the “bomb ass cakes,” Roth and Wisneski gear up in personal protective equipment and remain at a distance—but are close enough to see each customer’s ecstatic reaction.
'Some people haven’t seen another living soul in a month and it gives them something to look forward to,' adds Wisneski. 'It's this exciting thing you can do at home and everyone can participate in at their house. Or you can send it to someone else. The cake has become this vehicle for so many occasions in people's lives.'
As influential as the cake has been for Little House Confection’s customers, the give-back touchpoints of the business have made an even larger impact. Each month, Roth and Wisneski choose a different charity to donate a portion of sales to. And on a weekly basis, a local organisation called Fueling the Fearless delivers donation cakes, which customers can purchase on the bakery’s site, to local hospitals for frontline workers.
'The awesome thing is that nurses reach out to us on their own, come pick up end-of-day cakes and bring them to their own hospitals,' says Roth. 'It's so heartwarming. The fact that our little olive oil cake has gone viral is the coolest thing to watch, but the charitable aspect makes it so worth it. Also, the cakes are bomb as hell.'
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