By Tara Kelly
Photos by Rana Faure
Gone are the days of the store-bought, sickly sweet, personalized cake with Happy Birthday (fill in the name of the birthday boy or girl) scrolled in sticky red or blue gelatinous sugar from a tube. Never. Not when Willy Anderson Confections can create a cake that celebrates your favorite things. Hand-painted dinosaurs sculpted from fondant sugar? Sure. Your four-footed friends romping in a field of frosting? Easy. Flowers—real or frosted? Willy Anderson was a studio art major in college, and it shows.
Anderson didn’t start out baking cakes. In fact, when she attended the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City after she graduated from Skidmore College, there were very few classes on desserts. But when you’re a cook, you love cake, and you have young children, you start making special cakes for their birthdays; then your friends start to notice, and ask if you can make one for their child’s birthday. Pretty soon a business is born. “Willy’s cakes are not only beautiful, creative, fun, and spectacular, but they are delicious, too. They are a staple in every Mulvey special occasion,” says Liz Mulvey, a friend of Anderson’s with children around the same ages.
Anderson’s husband, Byron, grew up in Millbrook. His mother, Candy Anderson, is a fixture in the community, and a well-known Realtor at HW Guernsey at Compass, where Byron is an associate broker/team leader. But long before Anderson and her family moved to Millbrook full-time, she ran her own catering company, Pickle & Link, in Brooklyn for five years, then opened Market.Kitchen.Table, a health-based cafe and meal delivery service for postpartum mothers. Clearly, she knows her way around a kitchen. But these days she has the luxury of creating her cakes at home. That makes it a tad bit easier to take care of her two boys, who attend Dutchess Day School. “They both like to bake with me,” Anderson says. “But obviously not the one’s for clients.” Still, a look at her portfolio of cakes shows their influence: Cookie Monster, Peppa Pig, trains, astronauts, and sea creatures.
But it doesn’t stop there. Her multi-tiered wedding cakes are the height of simplicity and elegance. And then there’s Anderson’s favorite, the semi-naked cake. “It’s my signature cake. It has a great balance of cake to buttercream. I’m very conscious of flavor not being overwhelmed by sugar.” Anderson is a bit of an alchemist as well as an artist. How about a cake made with chamomile tea, Earl Grey, or chai? “I’ve developed my own recipes,” she says. “The tea cakes are made by steeping the tea in milk, and also using the dried tea leaves in the batter.”
Elaborate hand-sculpted cakes take a little time. Specialty cakes require approximately a week’s notice. Sometimes she can do a semi-naked cake with a 48-hour turnaround. And yes, she can make any of the cakes gluten-free. And she delivers. —willyandersonconfections.com