Inside the Pastry Shop at Lady M Confections
20 layers of mmm.
Last week, Lady M Confections opened its first West Coast boutique on West Third Street, near Robertson. For those familiar with the New York-based cake shop, this was a long time coming. Lady M first opened its doors on Manhattan's Upper East Side in 2004, and not long afterwards, had New Yorkers and tourists lining up outside for a taste of their signature mille crepes cake. The 20 layer (not 1,000; the name is an exaggeration) cake sounds simple enough: lightened pastry cream is layered between lacy vanilla crepes before the top is brûléed in a final flourish. But this cake is more than the sum of its parts.
Recently, we were invited inside to tour the bakery with manager Hélèn Anthon and Los Angeles-based pastry chef Junko Nishino. The minimalist cake-box like building used to house a bread bakery, but has since been gutted and completely renovated. Stark white walls and simple glass divides serve their purpose and do nothing to distract from the beauty of the pastry display. More than a dozen cakes are made at Lady M, including a checkerboard black and white creation, strawberry shortcake, and variations on the mille crepe theme (lemon and green tea are the most popular).
In the back, where half a dozen ovens are lined up against one wall, near a twelve-burner stove, is where the magic happens. Bowls of lightened pastry cream and digital scales take over stainless steel work surfaces. Rotating cake stands sit in front of pastry chefs wielding palate knives and offset spatulas, ready to spread and smear. In the corner, a chef makes crepe after crepe. As soon as they're cool, they're built into cakes. The cream for each layer is measured in grams. After it is spread (as thinly as the crepe beneath it), another crepe is placed on top and a plastic ruler-like guide is used to measure the height of the cake as it's built. This ensures consistency and it's one of the reasons why each bite of a mille crepe cake from Lady M is so special.
"The day we opened, we had a dozen orders within the first hour," says Anthon of the new bakery's intial demand. And though most of the orders are for Lady M's crepe cake, the other creations, including an apple tart and deep chocolate ganache cake, are also worth a taste. The bakery will eventually offer monthly cake specials, and is already looking ahead at its holiday collection. Lady M Los Angeles is now open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Lady M Confections, 8718 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, 424-279-9495 or ladym.com.