By T.J. Walter Posted November 24, 2010, 9:10 AM EST
Fluffy Thoughts Cakes in suburban McLean has only been open since April, but owner and head designer Lara Stuckey has been baking since she was five and turning out her towers of cake professionally for seven years. “I got my start with an Easy-Bake Oven, but eventually I worked my way up to what you see now,” Stuckey says while sitting in the quaint, Tiffany-blue tasting room of her 1,300-square-foot shop.
While taking graduate courses at Marymount University in 2002, Stuckey needed a part-time job, which led her to Warren Brown’s D.C.-based Cakelove. “Working for Warren was an amazing experience, and hearing his story about how he went from being a lawyer to a full-time baker was inspiring to me, especially as I thought about what I was going to do after I finished school,” she says.
But even Brown’s inspiration wasn’t enough to pull her away from using her degree in counseling psychology and working with troubled youth and adults. Baking went from a hobby to therapy for Stuckey, who used her time at the mixer as a chance to clear her mind. When a friend asked her for a wedding cake, she decided to go full-time, opening Fluffy Thoughts in 2003.
For the first seven years, Stuckey turned out custom cakes from a fully licensed galley kitchen in her two-bedroom apartment. “Our neighbors were pretty familiar with the weekend process of us going up and down the elevators with all sort of cakes,” she says. “We now have enough space that we aren’t bumping into each other and asking people to move so that we can open the oven.”
What separates Fluffy Thoughts from other bakeshops around town? Stuckey is quick to point to taste. “We put a strong focus on our flavors. We always use the freshest ingredients we can find, and we are consistently experimenting with new flavor combinations for our clients,” she says. Some of her favorite combinations include My Passion, white cake filled with passion-fruit curd and blackberry buttercream; and the Rosey, pistachio cake brushed with rosewater syrup, filled with rosewater buttercream and pistachio meringue between each layer.
While a large portion of her business is generated through wedding cakes and cupcakes, Stuckey also makes designer cakes and cupcakes for corporate clients including SAIC and the Avalon Group. Louise Seghers, an editorial and event consultant, called on Stuckey to create a dessert for the gala reception at the George Washington Masonic Memorial centennial event in February. “We chose Fluffy Thoughts because of Lara’s artistic and design background,” Seghers says. “Lara helped us decide on the perfect solution to feed more than 700 guests by creating a cake tower filled with mini cupcakes topped by a small, three-tiered cake. Each cupcake was decorated with the memorial’s logo, and the tier cake incorporated designs from the building’s architecture.”
Stuckey also caught the eye of Food Network producers and will be competing in an upcoming episode of Food Network Challenge, to air in 2011.