jen yee pastry


"Gawdy Italian"

With a very busy banquet room below our main dining space at the restaurant, I've become quite accustomed to making cakes for these events.  Birthdays and anniversaries are the norm, and so far, we've done one wedding.  Our standard cake offerings take their flavor profiles from the petits gateaux we feature in the showcase, and get bumped up into larger, grander versions of themselves for parties.  For almost all of our clients, this suits just fine considering the variety they can choose from.

Some recent patrons, however, have been wanting something a little more familiar to their childhood fêtes.  Last week, I got a request for a "white trash" birthday cake.  The words "duncan" and "hines" were spoken in that same conversation.  Did I turn my nose?  Absolutely not!!  When it comes to cake, I am no snob.  We proudly delivered a 4-layered, super buttery yellow cake (made from scratch) with obligatory domed top and birthday sprinkles to finish.  It was a fun departure to swirl the soft fudgy icing all around, trying to get the perfect waves and dips.

But I think my most recent cake request just spawned my all-time favorite cake I've ever made in my life!  The party was celebrating the birthday of an actor whose current role in a popular TV series set in 1920's Atlantic City is garnering him much attention.  Our events manager gave me carte blanche on the flavor, but specifically requested an "old school gawdy Italian" cake to present to the birthday boy.  

So here it is.  Three layers of the lightest vanilla chiffon soaked in the booziest cherry brandy syrup.  A cassata-esque filling of ricotta whipped cream scented with citrus zest and splintered with chocolate shards and amarena cherries.  A sweet dark chocolate glaze.  I got to tap into my antique piping fetish with rosettes and garlands of chantilly.  No offense to Italians, but nothing says gawdy like a maraschino cherry; so on they went, along with sicilian pistachios and candied orange.  Toasted banners of marzipan said it best.

As I'm ADORING the god-aweful beauty & kitsch of this masterpiece, I'm just hoping the birthday boy and the rest of the party will "get it" too.  I wasn't in the room to bear witness, but I heard many photos were taken and even more smiles were grinned.  I managed to sneak a chunk for myself and the team, and hot damn was it delicious!!