Want to know how to spend a perfect cold and rainy day in Williamsburg, Brooklyn? Baking with Swedish-born, Texas-raised model and baker, Britt Maren. Shivering, soaked, over-caffeinated, and probably laughing way too loud for the polished lobby, supermodel Britt welcomed us wet dogs into her cozy Brooklyn loft with warm and open arms. While we rode out the storm and admired the picture-perfect design of her home, she shared all of her baking secrets, whipped up what may be my favorite Thanksgiving dessert of all time, spilled all her style and beauty tips, and basically redefined what we all thought #goals was.
When not landing gigs for Vogue, Alexander Wang, Victoria’s Secret, or other esteemed brands, Britt’s making a name for herself among the foodie and blogger scene by way of her avid sweet tooth, which she luckily feeds by baking up all kinds of goodies and sharing them on her blog.
Her husband, Derek Orrell, (who is equally as nice and good looking!), is a professionally trained chef who has worked for renowned caterers and restaurants around New York. Together, they are stylish, accomplished, and pretty much exactly what you envision when you think of a trendy, down-to-earth power couple living in Williamsburg. (sigh…)
Scroll on for a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to bake with Britt in her kitchen, along with her tried and true tips for entertaining with effortless style.
Your must-have cooking/baking tool:
My KitchenAid stand mixer. Such a lifesaver when mixing, whipping, kneading, etc. It can make pasta and grind meat too? I mean come on! Oh, and sharp knives. My husband is a chef and keeps them super-sharp at all times.
What’s the entertaining/cooking/baking rule you rarely break?
I try not to get so caught up in hosting/entertaining that I can’t actually enjoy the event (and our guests!) myself. Prepping ahead is important, and not trying to make anything too labor-intensive or ambitious helps as well.
What scares you about entertaining?
There’s a lot of pressure involved in entertaining. Or maybe I should say, I put a lot of pressure on myself when entertaining. So, there’s always the worry that people won’t enjoy themselves or the food, but usually, that’s just me overthinking everything, as per usual. Have a glass of wine and relax!
What’s your signature dish as a baker?
Carrot cake. It’s my all-time favorite. I have a tasty (and somewhat healthy) recipe on my blog.
How did you get started as a baker?
My mom baked a lot as I was growing up, so I was exposed to it at an early age and fell in love with all the flavors and textures. She also frequently hosted cookie exchanges around the holidays, which were so fun to be a part of (and sneak cookies off everyone’s trays before the swap!) I love how baking can bring family and friends together over something so delicious and decadent. One of my favorite cookie recipes to this day is a recipe for Ranger Cookies that we got from an old neighbor in the Texas Hill Country years ago.
What’s your favorite thing to make for others?
Since I love baking, I’m usually in charge of dessert for any dinner party or family holiday gathering, which is totally fine by me! I like experimenting with seasonal flavors and ingredients too, which is why these speculoos pumpkin tarts seemed perfect for my Thanksgiving table.
The taste you’re always craving:
What items are always in your refrigerator?
Almond butter, sriracha, kombucha (homemade or store-bought), kale, lemons, corn tortillas, New Mexican green chile, dark chocolate, and always plenty of extra baked goods or cookie dough (in the freezer).
The perfect dinner party playlist includes:
We love some good Soul music, so Al Green, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, etc. would be perfect. Soul pairs nicely with cooking and dining! It’s upbeat enough but doesn’t overpower the conversation.
What’s the one restaurant meal you’ll never forget?
Oh gosh, there are so many. We love trying new places, and having lived in both New York and Los Angeles, the options are endless. A recent highlight was our anniversary dinner at Bavel in Downtown LA. Amazing Middle Eastern food and superb wine. I love the atmosphere and all the greenery inside as well.
Your standard hostess outfit (or your standard baking outfit):
Derek (my husband) is usually cooking, so nothing too fancy. He loves Hedley & Bennett chef coats and aprons. I will act as his sous chef and then change into something a bit chicer, yet still comfortable, like black leather skinny pants and a cozy, oversized cashmere sweater. Cool shoes and statement jewelry can spruce up an otherwise simple outfit.
What’s your current favorite color palette for parties?
Right now I love all the fall colors, so a deep eggplant or burgundy palette is so gorgeous. Paired with some simple greenery from the garden (herbs are easy and inexpensive, yet look super fancy), and you’re set! (Editor’s note: Britt and Derek have also managed to grow an impressive rooftop herb garden that makes you forget you’re in the middle of a concrete jungle—is there anything they don’t do?! TBD…)
Your dream dinner guests. Go!
Anyone who would bring good conversation and lots of laughs to the table. Ideally a mix of our best friends and family, including those we don’t get to see often.
Your entertaining style in five words or less:
Seasonal, comforting, market-driven, simple, and welcoming!
This post was originally published on July 11, 2019, and has since been updated.
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