Thursday, July 18, 2024

Food truck serves up sweet and savory comfort food

by SUMMER ZALESKY Daily Inter Lake
| July 10, 2024 12:00 AM

As a grandma who loves baking, Lana Pettit’s kids and grandkids often encouraged her to start her own bakery. Not wanting to be tied down to a brick and mortar, Pettit decided to take the leap and open Big Sky Buttercakes food truck in 2023.  

Proudly touting the catchphrase “This ain’t diet food,” the menu features comfort foods like bacon bourbon caramel cheesecake, cream puffs, and of course, butter cakes.  

“I'm always looking at expanding the menu and if things aren't a big seller, they come off the menu,” Pettit said. “I don't want to add too much though because I want it to be unique. This is stuff I feed my family so I'm not afraid to feed it to anyone else.” 

Behind each menu item is a source of inspiration. The bread pudding, for example, is one of her husband’s favorites, which she started making shortly after they married. In 2013 on a whim, she decided to enter her bread pudding into the Northwest Montana Fair and won a ribbon. “The bread pudding was kind of the start of this whole journey, and it's been with us through the years,” said Pettit. “I haven’t entered it again since, but this year I want to enter some other things into the fair.”  

For her baklava bars, she uses honey from McLaury’s Apiaries in Libby and in the future, she’d like to partner with more producers for locally sourced ingredients.  

“My baklava bars don't have a lot of ingredients. I use phyllo dough, walnuts, a little extra custard filling, and honey sauce which is locally sourced honey,” she said. “We also just introduced sandwiches in the last few months, and I’d like to locally source the meat for those.” 

While Pettit didn’t initially plan to include any savory items on her menu, she saw a need, and decided to fill it. Big Sky Buttercakes offer three sandwiches: Monte Cristo, Grilled PB&J, Cuban Sandwich. 

“People would come up and they’d go, ‘Oh, we're looking for real food,’ and I would say 'This is real food.’ It is all scratch made and it doesn't get any more real than that. We have found that adding the sandwiches has been a huge hit, especially the Cuban Sandwich which you can’t get anywhere else,” said Pettit. 

While there are two versions of a Cuban Sandwich, one that has salami, and the other with roast pork and ham only, Pettit goes all out with her Cubanos by adding all three. The loaded grilled roll also features Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard.  

Pettit came across the recipe while watching a cooking show, and says she often makes many of Gordon Ramsey’s recipes but is yet to incorporate them into her food truck.  

“We watch a lot of cooking shows and Gordon Ramsey is my hero,” said Pettit. “We’ve gone to Las Vegas and eaten at all but one of his restaurants.” 

In Thailand, Pettit discovered the Thai Pancake, known there as Roti, which is a crispier pancake with various fillings like coconut, strawberries, or other fruits. Since Pettit can’t make the original recipe fast enough in the trailer, Pettit has created her own version of this popular street food.  

The signature dish, the butter cake, is a small gooey and moist pound cake that is made with, as the name suggests, mostly butter.  

“I like to stick to the classics,” said Pettit. “My son-in-law's favorite cake is the butter cake, and I got the recipe from his mom. Then I started putting my own twist on it and now I have different flavors for it.”  

Pettit loves being a part of local events such as the Flathead Food Truck Festival, the upcoming Faerie Festival, and Christmas with the Clydesdales.  

“We did an event at Clydesdale Outpost in December,” said Pettit. “I had prepped winter-themed cupcakes and cookies, and we sold out in just a few hours. We made over six gallons of hot chocolate, and we could not keep up. It was fun and a big learning experience for us.” 

Pettit mostly bakes alone but loves to include her grandkids so they can learn real world experience in both cooking and business and said she hopes to pass on Big Sky Buttercakes one day. 

“This food is wholesome, satisfying, and made with love and it’s food like grandma makes,” she said. “Cooking is my passion. I'm living the dream.” 

To learn more, visit Big Sky Buttercakes on Facebook, or call 406-260-7171.  

Reporter Summer Zalesky may be reached at 

    A cream puff pastry filled with vanilla cream from Big Sky Buttercakes on Wednesday, May 29. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
    Lana Pettit drizzles a sweetened condensed milk topping onto a Thai Pancake Crisp inside the Big Sky Buttercakes food truck on Wednesday, May 29. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
    Lana Pettit sprinkles confectioners' sugar onto a cream puff inside the Big Sky Buttercakes food truck on Wednesday, May 29. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
    A raspberry butter cake, a four-inch pound cake drizzled in a sweet butter syrup, at Big Sky Buttercakes on Wednesday, May 29. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
    A customer breaks open an apple fritter from Big Sky Buttercakes on Wednesday, May 29. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider