On one of my journeys to the Bay Area of California, I encountered the lovely Michelle Tubby, founder of the New Zealand Gothic kitchen Miss T’s. Our small community is full of people with a darkness to them, with an extreme appreciation for all things extravagant, eccentric, decadent and macabre. It is true we love the dark music, paintings, clothing styles, and culture, and now baked goods.
I am one who knows nothing about the kitchen, so any type of cooking fascinates me. I needed to know what inspired her to get into it. She said, “Isolation and necessity started me on the path to baking”. She adds, “I spent a couple of years on my own after a long relationship ended and I needed to pour my emotions into something.” An occasion arose that she needed a cake for her birthday and there was no one who could make what she wanted, so she decided to make it herself. She said, “I realized I had a talent for it, so I kept going.” She realized there was a market for her craft when she started to look on the internet for gothic style baking and all she found were juvenile Halloween cupcakes. She said, “There were no mature or stylish recipes so I started creating my own and put them on Facebook and I had a great response.” She added, “I had a bride ask me to make her a steampunk wedding cake for her Halloween wedding and it was very successful.” She has also done commissioned cakes with themes like Day of The Dead and Monster High. So far her best seller is her Cameo cookies, and the most requested flavor is her rich and moist chocolate. Miss T’s was started in 2011 and has been making dark confections since.
Miss T’s creations are beautiful, and when asked about her inspiration she said, “I get inspiration from films, books, music and mood. I love the Victorian era and literature of the day. She added, “My absinthe cupcakes where inspired by a scene in Bram Stokers ‘Dracula’ where Mina was being seduced under the influence of absinthe by her dark prince. The crucifix cookies for example are also inspired by my vast vampire film collection.” She is also in the process of creating a multi layered black crow cake dedicated to Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and the ‘The Crow’ movies.
The intricate detail she puts into her designs can only be described as amazing and innovative. She is so prideful in her creations and does not allow the most minute design to be skipped. These are some very polished cookies, my darklings. When I asked how she did this she said,” Solitude, patience, a steady hand and the right music.” Music is what also pushes my creativity, so I was curious what the right music was. She said, “It all depends on the task at hand.” She added, “I have found when covering my cakes in fondant, Godflesh is the best music for me. The droning guitar keeps me calm and focused”. For the longer detailed work she said, “I will listen to The Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Smashing Pumpkins, Portishead and Joy Division. Alice Cooper helps me cream my butter and sugar.”
The flavors she come up with will truly take even the most cultured taste buds on and adventure, so I wondered about how she comes up with them. Miss T said, “Seasonal fruit is an inspiration.” She will design a recipe around a berry if it’s in season. A couple of examples of this would be her Strawberry Shortcake with bleeding coulis and Plum & Ginger Cheesecake. Alcohol also stimulates her creativity. Miss T has made St. Germain (which is an elderflower liqueur) poached pears in cupcakes and Cointreau Chocolate Fudge cake—with her favorite being the black forest cake soaked in Kirsch (cherry liqueur).
We have all seen television reality shows about bake offs, crazy kitchen chefs and contests about who can make the most interesting cake. Miss T’s talent would intimidate any of the contestants on these programs. She lists her biggest challenge as an 8 layered, red velvet, 3D skull cake designed from the cover art off ‘We Rise’ by New Zealand rock band Devilskin. She said “I sculptured it by hand and covered it in fondant (sugar paste) and air brushed it gold and then watered painted it black for effect, complete with bullet shaped teeth.”
When I asked what she envisioned for the future of her shop she said, “It’s my ambition to publish a beautiful Gothic Baking Book and to open Miss T’s Tearooms, a place where you can sit quietly in a dark corner and nibble on a Vampire Bite whilst sipping a brew.”
If you are interested in ordering some of her devilish delights, she takes her orders through her Facebook page. She uses her special magic to ship all over the world so the Gothic goodies arrive fresh on your doorstep. I have my order in. You should get yours.