Founder Christine Moore and head baker Cecilia Leung share the story of their beloved neighborhood cafe, Little Flower Candy Co.
Even though SoCal darling Christine Moore gained a loyal following for her candy confections (chewy sea salt caramels and handmade marshmallows), it’s the baked goods that steal the show in the weathered brick dining room of Little Flower Candy Co., her neighborhood café on the western edge of Pasadena. From dense chocolate bouchons garnished with Maldon sea salt to scones made with dried lavender buds and honey, Christine’s creations showcase French influence with a refreshing Southern California twist. She teamed up with Little Flower’s head baker Cecilia Leung, Christine’s right hand woman, to chronicle Little Flower’s beloved baking recipes in Little Flower Baking (Prospect Park Books, 2016). We sat down with both of them to talk about their passion for pastry, what home bakers want above all else, and how their bakery and cookbook cater to that.
Christine, you opened Little Flower Candy Co. in 2007. How did you come up with the name Little Flower for your café?
Christine Moore: I named it after a bottle of wine. I was making candy and drinking wine late one night, and I noticed the bottle was called “Petite Fleur.” I loved that name, but a lot of the candies I was making at the time were very all-American. So, I just switched it to Little Flower. I still have that label from that bottle of wine today.
What makes Little Flower different from any other neighborhood café?
Cecilia Leung: As a baker, you make the recipe so many times, and people ask, “Gosh, doesn’t that get boring?” I say “never,” because each time we make a recipe, we try to make it better. That’s the constant thought at Little Flower. The majority of the staff has been here three years or more, and that’s very telling. When we come to work, it’s not really even coming to work; it’s like coming home to our family. We love cooking and serving our customers, who are also our family because they’re an extension of us.
CM: We love to serve. It’s an honor to feed people. I tell my staff, “You have 200 chances every day to make someone happy with the way you treat and feed them.” You have to love to serve, and we do.
CL: When I was in college, I would save all the interesting articles and recipes that came in the Los Angeles Times food section. Once, I remember there was an article about a baby shower for one of L.A.’s best pastry chefs named Christine. For her shower, all the city’s most renowned pastry chefs brought Christine a dozen of their favorite cookies and the cookie recipe. I kept the article because I told myself “Someday, I’m going to work for one of these great pastry chefs.” Little did I know that the article was about the Christine Moore of Little Flower that I would be working for 13 years later.