Sure, Heather Bodine-Lederman’s vegan cakes—elaborate trilayer confections artfully draped in dairy-free ganache and painstakingly adorned with vegan marshmallows and cookies—are beautiful. After all, 50,000 Instagram followers can’t be wrong. But how do they taste?
Extremely good, the consensus seems to be, judging by the number of nonvegans in the throngs who clean Bodine-Lederman out at every pop-up sale.
Indeed, her offerings are a far cry from the oft-unappetizing, oddly textured vegan cakes of yore. “You don’t have to replace nonvegan ingredients with weird crap like tofu,” she says. Instead, she relies on natural and tasty additions like soymilk and vegetable shortening (which serves as the base for a surprisingly luscious vegan buttercream frosting), as well as a combination of baking soda and vinegar (for extra moisture).
“My boyfriend isn’t vegan and he taste-tests everything,” she says. “Sometimes he’s like, ‘That tastes vegan,’ and that’s all I need to hear.”
The 26-year-old Bodine-Lederman has no formal pastry training. Three years ago, she began baking pies to sell online under the name Pie, Pie My Darling. Now cakes are her passion, though she hasn’t bothered to change the name.
She’s working on opening her own storefront, but for the time being, if you want to taste her work, you’ll have to buy a slice at veg-friendly eateries like Paulie Gee’s, Handlebar, or Kal’ish—or wait in line for a cake (from $35) wherever she sets up shop on a random weekend. Want to keep tabs on where that might be? You’ll need to join her ever-growing flock on Instagram (@piepiemydarling).