Rebecca Masson shakes up the cake scene
Rebecca Masson Shakes Up Houston’s Cake Scene
She’s called “The Sugar Fairy” (and sometimes “The Sugar Hooker.”) But for all that sass and occasional snark, baker Rebecca Masson takes baking very seriously – as an art and a business.
“A lot of people go to culinary school and find their way to baking,” she explains. “I only ever wanted to be a baker.” So, she did what any hyper-confident, driven, would-be artisan did: she enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu. In Paris. “I mean, who better, right?” Masson laughs.
The year-long program is known for producing some of the best chefs and pastry chefs in the world, as well as its demanding curriculum, long days and stressed-out students. Masson attests being a Cordon-Bleutrained pastry chef is a whole other realm of reality. The coursework is divided into three sections – basic, intermediate and superior. Along the way, the future pastry chef learns to master techniques from basic doughs, creams, mousses, and classic desserts, to bread baking, complex chocolate work and sugar sculptures. After she earned her Diplôme de Pâtisserie, Masson got an internship with Hotel Le Bristol in Paris. All of it, Masson says, lays a firm foundation for anything a pastry chef might do later on.
Masson says it’s sometimes difficult for people to grasp what being a pastry chef means in terms of the finished product.
“People will ask if I have a cake lying around,” she laughs. “No. I don’t just have a cake lying around. When you’re a chef or a cook, you can take eggs, onions, green peppers or whatever out of the fridge and bam – make an omelet. With a cake, and especially when you’ve really trained as a pastry chef, it’s all about precise measurements. You don’t dump sugar and butter and flour in a bowl and it’s automatically a cake.”
Masson’s cakes have several parts, from the cakes, themselves, to the frostings, curds, jams and crunches, all of which she prepares in-house, from scratch, based on the training she’s received and the experience she’s amassed.
“All of those things take time,” she says. “That's what makes our cakes unique.” Her chef-driven approach means she’s out to create works of art. “We will have no regular cupcakes in this shop, ever,” she says with a laugh. Instead, she does a multi-layered cake in a cup, usually with a crunch element; it comes with a cover, so if you don’t finish, she says, you can have it for later.
Since she opened her brick-and-mortar store in late spring, she’s increased her menu, grown her staff to eight people she says “do an amazing job,” and has navigated the transition from working out of a borrowed space and selling to restaurants to holding her own.
“The techniques I learned totally fit into what I’m doing,” she says. “But I’m able to have a lot of fun with it. I like childhood flavors: fluff and peanut butter, moon pies, Oreos. I do all that.”
Fluff Bake Bar, 314 Gray St. Houston; fluffbakebar.com