SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Celebrating Valentine’s Day is a whole lot sweeter with decadent treats by Emily Homer.
A student at Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute in Rhode Island, Homer had to cancel plans for a cooking internship in France when COVID-19 hit last spring. Since then, she has returned to Mount Desert Island and continues doing what she loves – baking.
During the summer season, Homer can be found in the kitchen of either The Burning Tree Restaurant or Milk and Honey Kitchen, both in Mount Desert, crafting seasonal and scrumptiously sweet desserts and pastries. In the off-season, Homer has found a way to continue sharing her talent by offering handmade treats for holidays.
It all began last fall when she put out an offer to make pies for Thanksgiving.
“It totally took me by surprise when I woke up and saw I had 15 messages,” she said about the response.
About 30 people signed up to enhance their Thanksgiving meal with the pies Homer made, which included chocolate pecan, pumpkin, regular pecan and apple. Then for Christmas, Homer offered an assortment of cookies, a couple of different pie flavors and a glazed gingerbread Bundt cake topped with candied orange peels.
Although most cooking careers start with stories of grandma’s recipes, Homer credits the area’s technical school with inspiring her journey. In high school, a friend convinced her to do a tour of Hancock County Technical Center.
“I checked out the culinary section and I found it a lot more exciting than I thought I would,” she said, adding that she attended HCTC for the last two years of high school.
When she stopped attending in-person classes at Johnson and Wales, Homer was a junior at the college. While she had intended to explore multiple culinary offerings, she eventually decided to focus on her passion for baking.
“I just absolutely love the baking aspect,” she said. “Since then, I’ve never looked back.”
One of her favorite courses at the school was How Baking Works in which students started with a traditional recipe and then substituted ingredients to see how the final result varied.
“Being able to have the science behind it was really helpful,” Homer added. That course is what helps her when baking gluten free and vegan options.
Although space is limited in her parents’ kitchen, Homer said it helps to know where everything is.
“I’m so thankful we have a Kitchen Aid in this house,” she said about her favorite piece of equipment.
As for what ingredient she loves to work with, Homer says it’s brown butter.
“It probably makes everything ten times better,” she said, adding it gives a slight nutty flavor without having to worry about nut allergies.
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I really like the decorating aspect,” said Homer, explaining how it can be meditative.
For Valentine’s Day, Homer has already sold out of the 6-inch vanilla cakes with strawberry filling and the red velvet cakes with cream cheese filling, both topped with a vanilla bean buttercream frosting. There are still vanilla cupcakes topped with strawberry buttercream frosting and sugar cookies shaped like candy conversation hearts.
But Homer isn’t limiting her offerings to holiday time.
“Truly, I’m always open to taking orders at any time, from anyone,” she said.
To place an order, find Emily Homer on Facebook or send her an email, [email protected]