A few months back, I was having a glass of wine at Humboldt & Jackson in Williamsburg when two tall, handsome men approached the bar and offered me dessert.
I rubbed my eyes, certain I had dreamt up this pair of dashing debonaires. “Princes?” I asked. “Barons” they replied. Indeed, I had just met Chris Poeschl and Tony Lanuza, a.k.a. The Brooklyn Baking Barons, and when they asked if I wanted to try their homemade honey whiskey cake, you better believe I said yes.
Chris and Tony are partners in work and in life. A mutual friend introduced them in 2012 and kismet brought them back together in 2013 in New York, where they were both pursuing professional careers in the theater. They soon began dating and hosting dinner parties for friends at their Williamsburg apartment.
Friends were not only impressed with the quality of the meals they served, but also insistent that they “do something” with their cooking skills. While neither has professional baking training, both men grew up in homes where the kitchen was the heartbeat of their families. “Family is food,” Chris told me over fried chicken sandwiches at Concord Hill in Williamsburg. Tony, whose background is Italian and Spanish, nodded in agreement. “The kitchen was our family,” he added.
For Chris’s birthday in 2014, he told Tony he wanted a cake that was like a rum cake, but not a rum cake. Armed only with these instructions, Tony went to work and developed what was the first iteration of their now signature dessert: the honey whiskey cake.
Shaped like a personal sized bundt cake, the honey whiskey cake has a caramel-like sweetness and moist consistency from the subtle whiskey infusion.
While the BK Baking Barons are well equipped at making many desserts ranging from seasonal fruit tarts to a hot honey baklava, the honey whiskey cake is the crown jewel of the empire. Since perfecting the recipe, the Barons have been relying mostly on social media to spread the word about their desserts. That, and a couple of choice visits to a few popular television shows. When Poeschl and Lanuza attended The Chew on ABC as audience members, they made sure to pack enough honey whiskey cakes for the hosts and the entire production team. After the show, chef Michael Symon was saying hello to fans and Chris and Tony didn’t miss a beat; they presented chef Symon with a cake and sure enough, he tweeted “holy crap… my best sweet bite of the year!” No small praise coming from an Iron Chef! Chefs Poeschl and Lanuza approached a taping of The View with similar intentions. The BK Barons gifted the production team with cakes, which found their way to the hosts. Both Rosie’s (O’Donnell and Perez) tweeted their approval.
As for their name, the Brooklyn-based pair liked the regal implication of the word “barons.” “We were watching a lot of Downton Abbey,” said Poeschl. “We’re not hipsters but we wanted to celebrate Brooklyn. We thought it was a nice fit.”
These days, the duo can be found baking in the kitchen at Humboldt & Jackson, where you can also sample a honey whiskey cake. If you can’t make it to Williamsburg, you can order directly from their website or from online purveyor of gourmet goods, Goldbely.
We strongly suggest you get yourself a honey whiskey cake (or seven), but don’t take our word for it — take Padma Lakshmi’s. After she found herself face to face with a honey whiskey Cake, she tweeted, “I gobbled it up without so much as sharing a crumb with anyone. “ Neither did we, Padma. Neither did we.