That Kiernan Shipka is full of surprises. As Mad Men’s Sally Draper, she has grown from a whiny, bratty kid into a precocious young woman. In real life, the 12-year-old has become a full-fledged arbiter of style. Now, she’s sharing her latest passion: Gluten-free baking.
In a how-to video on the new app for the vegan bakery BabyCakes NYC, Shipka joins owner Erin McKenna in the kitchen to make McKenna’s waffles. The iPhone/iPad app, available in the iTunes store, costs $3.99 and captures the essence of BabyCakes’ happy hipster homemade vibe. Amidst videos with food writer Mark Bittman and Momofuku/Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, the app sports recipes and shopping lists for cookies, cupcakes, sandwich bread, pretzels, pies, and donuts--all organic, vegan and gluten-free--all set to the music of Bubbles, Bleached and Cult. Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis even contributed a new BabyCakes theme song.
“We opened the Larchmont store on December 30, 2011, and Kiernan came in with some of her girlfriends a week later,” reports BabyCakes NYC owner Erin McKenna, referring to the most recent addition to BabyCakes’ mini-empire, in the Larchmont section of Los Angeles. “I knew her from Mad Men, of course, but I didn’t want to embarrass her and say so.” Shipka came in again, and again that week. When her mother chatted up McKenna, revealing that she and Kiernan bake from her cookbooks, the baker got bold and asked the actress to appear in her app; she said yes.
“Kiernan arrived for the shoot wearing an outfit that looked just like a Babycakes uniform!” says McKenna, who was visibly pregnant. "I could barely breathe at that point. I was trying to remember what I was doing, hold a conversation, and breathe." In the video, available on the just-released app, the two make gluten-free waffles, with blueberries, bananas, and chocolate chips, and we learn that Shipka would love to host Saturday Night Live.
Sure, BabyCakes has celebrity cred (Zooey Deschanel is a fan) but it’s the ever-growing inventory of treats that people come for. When McKenna opened the first bakery seven years ago, on New York City’s Lower East Side, BabyCakes had mostly cupcakes, cakes, muffins, and teabreads; eventually they expanded to chocolate chip cookies and cookie sandwiches (my personal favorite). As they’ve added bakeries in downtown L.A. and Disney World (of all places!), they’ve also added their versions of Thin Mints and Chocolate-Covered Oreos, in addition to waffles and cinnamon buns hot from the oven every morning. “I get bored making the same recipe all the time,” explains McKenna. “So during any downtime in the kitchen I experiment. That keeps me and the staff excited. We keep it alive.”
McKenna started work on the app in November 2011, but it was never intended as a major moneymaker. "It’s a community-builder," she says. "I’m always looking for ways to keep people excited. Plus, I need a project at all times.”
In addition to her new baby, McKenna’s latest project is experimenting with baking gluten-free/dairy-free breads, including baguettes, bagels, and croissants, for her next cookbook. As with all of her previous recipes, McKenna hones them through trial and error in an ongoing quest to make moist, delectable items that are allergen-free. "It’s the next challenge, and it’s scary stuff, but I know I can do it."