For the most part, the experimental projects self-styled baker Christine Martin conjures up on any given weekend wind up in the bellies of her office mates.
But there was that time one of her homespun treats made its way to the dinner table of the highest-ranking Republican in the House. Quite an accomplishment for a budding pastry artist. Working It Ever since graduating from law school, Martin, who serves as deputy general counsel at the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the kitchen is where most of her decompressing takes place.
“I grew up baking with my mom, but it wasn’t anything substantial,” she said of her introduction to the culinary arts. Martin now embraces those salad days, employing the ritual of sifting and weighing, measuring and mixing, folding in and fluffing up as her preferred form of stress relief. As her passion grew and her skill set flourished, Martin mulled making the move from home enthusiast to entrepreneur. She began testing the waters last spring, dishing out early achievements via a pseudonymous social media feed . She switched on her business site a few months later, and just like that, she was part of the cooking-for-hire game.
“That was definitely a huge learning experience,” she said of the back-end coding and optimization strategies she had to master to carve a place for herself in the virtual market. Early on, Martin said she embraced the convenience of store-bought materials (ready-made cookie dough, commercial frosting). Nowadays, she takes pride in whipping up everything from scratch.
#standards #dontdoit #justsayno #callmeinstead #bakerproblems A photo posted by Politics to Pastries (@politicstopastries) on
“I like the precision that baking requires. That might be my Type A personality,” she said, noting she appreciates the predictability of the finely tuned preparation process.
The rule-follower in her is content to stick with the tried and true methods carefully detailed in modern cookbooks. And while she’s unlikely to tinker with the elements of any one recipe, Martin said she enjoys mixing and matching inspiration culled from different sources (a filling from one, for instance, might be married to a cake bookmarked in another).
Her go-to sweet varies depending on whose lips it is destined to pass through.
When her sweet tooth acts up, she tends to crumble.
“Cookies are my weakness,” she confessed. “That’s probably why I don’t make them.”
Martin expressed a penchant for just about anything soft and chewy, adding she is crushing hard on oatmeal raisin cookies.
In terms of satisfying her growing client base, Martin said the infinitely customizable cupcake tends to be a crowd pleaser. "You just don’t mess with a classic, you know,” she said of the signature indulgence. “As long as people keep ordering them, I’ll give the people what they want.” Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the “people” turn out to be high-profile politicians.
Dessert Diplomacy Last fall, Martin was asked to put something together to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Ax PAC, the fundraising apparatus established by Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wis. She settled on a lumberjack theme, which translated into a four-layer, Nutella chocolate-fudge brown-butter cake designed to mimic a tree stump, plus mini maple-bacon cupcakes.
“I used a bourbon-chocolate drizzle … so they were definitely decadent,” she said.
"Usually it’s the kids who get the creative birthday cakes in our house, so this was a fun surprise,” the lawmaker and father of seven told CQ Roll Call. “It’s cool to see a young person blending her entrepreneurial spirit with, what is clearly, an incredible talent.”
Fast forward to a few months ago, when she got her first taste of wedding planning. Martin catered the nuptials of former House GOP spokeswoman Amanda Nunez in February — a tony affair, which called for 50 signature cupcakes, 50 salted-caramel brownie bites and 50 bourbon-pecan mini pies, plus a large, single-tiered cake.
150 pieces of dessert. 2 special lovebirds. 1 very sweet wedding dessert table. Congrats @amandanunez and @seanevins! Hope your night (and the treats) are everything you imagined! ❤️Rustic homemade funfetti cake and cupcakes with whipped vanilla buttercream, salted caramel brownie bites and bourbon pecan pie bites - first P2P wedding in the books! Special thanks to my #transportteam @christynkeyes #desserttable #rustic #rusticcake #funfetti #texturedbuttercream #saltedcaramel #browniebites #pecanpie #minipecanpies #minipies #dcwedding #politicstopastries #p2p A photo posted by Politics to Pastries (@politicstopastries) on
The biggest headache? Making sure the cavalcade of sweets made it to the venue without incident. (Logistics lesson? Check.)
Other than that, Martin said she’s typically presented with piecemeal requests.
“It’s been mostly a couple dozen cupcakes here, a cake for that,” she shared.
One of those assignments wound up traveling high up the food chain. Martin said she once made a brownie cake (topped with peanuts and caramel) for a friend invited to a dinner party by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.
Sweetening the Pot Cupcakes may be her bread and butter, but Martin is all about keeping this cherry side gig going.
As such, she’s begun delving into fancier baking constructs and advanced decorating techniques.
She said she’d love to master traditional French macarons next.
“They’re a little trickier to make because they’re very delicate,” the burgeoning confectioner explained.
Politics to Pastries: politicstopastries.com The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.