It all started with a pun that put a playful spin on a popular nickname for Beyoncé, the world-famous pop star known to many super fans as “Queen Bey.”
Grace Cuneo Lineman had conjured up the name of a pastry inspired by the nickname, “Beyhive Honey Cake,” and then wondered whether she could create a recipe that lived up to the pun.
She took the idea to her sister, Karen Cuneo, who works as a food scientist, and asked for help.
“I brought it to Karen because it’d be a cool idea if she could bring it to life,” says Lineman, who graduated from Northeastern in 2013 with a business degree concentrated in marketing. “We love to bounce ideas off of each other and it really spiraled from there.”
Over the next two years, the two sisters crafted more than 80 baking recipes inspired by the accomplishments of famous women in pop culture, politics, and history. The name of each recipe, like “Beyhive Honey Cake,” combines the name of a famous woman with an ingredient in the tasty treat.
“Gwen Stefani Hollabaklava” honors the pop star who sang “Hollaback Girl,” which reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2005. ‘“Sandra Day Oat Cobbler” pays tribute to Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And “Eleanor Roosevelvet Cake” celebrates Eleanor Roosevelt, who fought for racial equality, advocated women receive the same pay for the same work as men, and served as First Lady of the United States for 12 years.
The sisters catalogued the recipes in Empowdered Sugar: A Collection of Sweets, Treats, and Female Feats, a 242-page cookbook, which publishes on Tuesday.
“It’s so much more than a cookbook in that we are sharing these women’s stories through baking and hopefully bringing women together in the kitchen,” says Lineman.
Cuneo, who studied food science at Clemson University, created the recipes. Lineman helped come up with the puns. And an all-female staff designed the book, edited the recipes, and taste-tested the treats.
“We felt since the book was grounded in ideas of female empowerment, we wanted to share with our female family and friends,” Lineman says. “We reached out to all of these different women in our lives and asked them to be a part of what we were creating.”
Cuneo credits her drive to create the cookbook to her classes in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and her two co-op experiences at Johnson & Johnson, which, she says, have prepared her to tackle new opportunities that come her way.
“I think Northeastern, especially the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, is so great at instilling an entrepreneurial spirit and exposing us to the professional life,” Lineman says. “I was able to build on that when I worked on this cookbook.”