Whisk & Wildflour – baking days brighter one cookie at a time
Holly Edelman is baking days brighter one cookie — or cake —at a time. Holly, the baker behind Whisk and Wildflour, specializes in cakes and decorated sugar cookies with royal icing. Though those are her favorite sweet treats to bake, she is working on broadening her recipe box to include other delicacies.
Baking is something Holly has always enjoyed, but it wasn’t until her early teens that she started to get more serious.
“I loved the TV show, Ace of Cakes, and watched it regularly with my family,” she said.
The show really sparked inspiration for her — enough for her to bake her own fondant covered cake for her 13th birthday.
Holly has taught herself over the years, but she also is professionally taught. She attended the Culinary Arts Program at Washburn Institute of Technology, which focused mainly on kitchen safety, sanitation and basic kitchen skills.
“Luckily, we were able to explore the areas that interested us most, so I spent most of my time in the bakery making breads, pies, cookies and cakes,” Holly said.
After graduating from the program, Holly accepted a part-time job as a baker at Billy Vanilly in Topeka. She worked her way up to managing the Lawrence location, where she was in charge of creating cupcakes and pastries to sell in the store, as well as custom orders.
During her time at Billy Vanilly, she really focused on improving her buttercream and fondant skills. This brought her a new opportunity — to manage a new cupcake store, Smallcakes, in Topeka.
“It was a great experience to be a part of a bakery from the very beginning,” she said. “At Smallcakes, I was in charge of the cupcake production for that day, as well as custom ordered cakes and cupcakes, which helped me to continue to sharpen my decorating skills.”
When she wasn’t working at Smallcakes, Holly continued baking and decorating on her own.
In March 2018, Holly created Whisk and Wildflour as just an “organized place” for her creations. She started a Facebook page and Instagram account where she posted photos of what she made.
“Initially, I just wanted a separate space to try new recipes and to share pictures and tutorials for fun but then I started getting more requests from friends and family to make treats for their various events,” Holly said.
In the fall of 2018, Holly was asked to teach a cookie decorating class at The Creative Farmhouse in Sabetha. Holly accepted the invitation and hosted two fully booked cookie workshops with 25 participants per class.
“Holly led a very interactive cookie decorating workshop,” said Susan Leiker of Sabetha. “She provided all the materials including the frosting, decorating tips to use for frosting and eight cookies to decorate and take home. Her enthusiasm and knowledge made for a fun couple of hours.”
“The first set of classes went over so well that we hosted a Valentine’s class, which also sold out,” she said. “These cookie workshops were a great opportunity for me to try something new and offer a fun activity in Sabetha.”
Sharon Mills of Sabetha also attended one of Holly’s cooking decorating classes, and said Holly has a God-given talent and has tons of patience to do what she does.
“Her creations are so beautiful and she makes it look easy,” Sharon said. “She obviously loves what she’s doing.”
After the success with the cookie workshops, Holly created “Decorate Your Own Cookie” kits for Easter. Each kit included freshly baked cookies, sprinkles and homemade icing in various colors. The purchaser then could decorate the pre-made cookies however they wished.
“I was amazed by how many orders I received,” she said. “I ended up baking over 500 rolled and cut sugar cookies!”
Recipes & Decorating
Holly enjoys trying out new recipes and finds many online.
“Recipes aren’t necessarily a ‘one-size-fits-all,’” she said. “Environments, tools and ingredients can vary from kitchen to kitchen, so I usually tweak recipes to fit my preferences.”
Inspiration comes from several different bakeries — both locally and globally. Some of her favorites include Magnolia Kitchen in New Zealand for modern cake designs and Jenna Rae Cakes in Manitoba for her unique flavor combinations for pastries.
“For anything custom ordered, if the client is looking for something specific to fit their event, then I always recommend finding a picture online so I can have a good idea of what kind of design they’re looking for,” Holly said.
Holly especially enjoys when customers allow her creative freedom.
“A lot of times it’s much easier to create your own unique piece of art than it is to try to duplicate another design,” she said.
“I love the quote, ‘Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle,’” Holly said. “I think it’s so true, especially in the industry that I am in. It takes a lot of time, practice and resources to get to the point that I am at now, and I know I still have a long way to go to get where I want to be.”
Macarons are Holly’s current choice challenge. Macarons are made up of two small meringue-based cookies that have filling and/or buttercream between them.
“They are a huge challenge, especially in Kansas humidity. Everything has to be perfect between the ingredient measurements, oven temperatures, climate and bake time,” she said. “I have tried countless recipes and batches with little success until just recently. I still have to work on getting them just right, but it has been a challenge for sure!”
Advice & Future
Holly looks to her friend and former colleague — Katlyn Howard — for advice.
“She has been with me through just about every bump in my baking career, whether it was a leaning cake or cracked fondant,” Holly said. “We love to gather advice and bounce ideas off each other.”
Holly and Katlyn met while working at their first bakery together. Their love of baking cemented a lifelong friendship for the two young women.
“We love creating together and sharing inspiration,” Katlyn said. “We are one of each other’s biggest baking fans and always push each other to do things to grow in our careers. Holly has grown so much in her baking career from starting in the kitchen with the basics and now doing detailed cookie and cake designs.”
Holly also looks to her mom — Jill Kesler — for help with dishes, making a batch of dough, packaging cookies or an assistant at a cookie class.
“She has always been more than willing to lend a hand and I would not have been able to complete numerous projects without her help,” Holly said.
“I’m always looking to improve my decorating skills and knowledge,” Holly said of what’s to come for Whisk and Wildflour.
She added that she also would like to offer a variety of pastries to compliment her cookies and cakes.
Though she does not have any events planned in the near future, she would love to offer classes again.
Usually around certain holidays, she will offer decorated sugar cookies, cupcakes or cookie kits.
Holly is the daughter of David and Jill Kesler of Sabetha. She and her husband, Trevin Edelman — son of Roger and Michelle Edelman — are both Sabetha natives and recently moved back to Sabetha.
Outside of Whisk and Wildflour, Holly is an administrative assistant at Grimm’s Gardens. Her husband Trevin is a financial professional at Thrivent Financial in Sabetha.
Follow Whisk and Wildflour on Instagram and on Facebook at @whiskandwildflour.