Havertown Baker Talks Sugar Art with PhillyVoice before Appearance on Food Network
Havertown baker Dan Langan got into baking after spending ample time in the kitchen with grandma as a child, writes Brandon Baker of PhillyVoice.
Now the 26-year-old is a self-described sugar artist who taught himself how to bake while working as a personal fitness trainer. Langan operates his cake and pastries business, Baked by Dan, out of his home.
On Sunday, Langan will take his sugar artistry a step further by joining the cast of season two of Food Network’s “Spring Baking Championship.” He’ll compete in a bake-off with seven other contestants plucked from across the country, all for a grand prize of $50,000. The season consists of six hour-long episodes set to air in the weeks ahead.
Naturally, Langan won’t disclose how far his pastry skills landed him in the competition. But he did sit for a Q&A with PhillyVoice.
PV: Looks like you do a lot of cakes through Baked by Dan. Is that your specialty?
DL: I would say so. I always tell people cakes probably are my main thing – everything I do is made from scratch in small batches to order. Whether it’s a cake, simple cupcakes or a tray of cookies, I really put a lot of care into everything I make. Flavor is No. 1, but when I do get the opportunity to bring artistry and presentation to it – making a 3-D cake or wedding cake – that’s when I get the chance to shine, and my personality as a baker or sugar artist comes through.
PV: These cakes look awfully complicated. Was cake-designing a difficult skill to learn?
DL: You know, people often ask me if cake-decorating was a thing that was difficult or hard, and I don’t like to use those words. I like to say it’s time-consuming and that it takes practice. It takes a lot of patience and passion. Because there is a lot of trial and error. You do fail a good bit before you succeed. So, it’s something you definitely have to want to do. And it’s something I had to push myself to do because I taught myself how to decorate and bake – there wasn’t anyone teaching me or holding my hand. Perseverance and just continually practicing hours on end is what I think helped me develop the skills I have. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, it just took a lot of work.
PV: What do your Main Line clients ask you to bake? Any consistency to what they ask you to make for them?
DL: Well, I work pretty closely on the Main Line with a restaurant in Rosemont called Antonella’s Italian Kitchen. And the owners of that restaurant, Ray and Antonella, were the first people in the area to take me under their wing when Baked by Dan became a thing. For them, I make a lot of biscotti and cookies and brownies and things they use for their restaurant and their everyday clients and takeout. But as far as cakes, I think people come to me for cakes when they want to make a statement at their party. I make plenty of birthday cakes and smaller-scale things. I try to work within everyone’s budget. But I think the main reason people come to me is they really want something to stand out – they really want a centerpiece and something that will ‘wow’ and surprise people. And I think people have learned that’s something they’ll get from Baked by Dan. I can’t say there’s one specific thing people always order; it always varies. But it always goes back to that ‘wow’ factor.
Click here to read more of Langan’s interview with PhillyVoice.
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