jen yee pastry


Filtering by Tag: cake

"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!!

Honey Hazelnut Cake

As the autumn season commences, the dessert menu gets a little warmer, a little darker, a little richer.  This pleasantly dense honey hazelnut cake gets a quick pan-fry in sage butter before being topped with fresh blackberries and a sage infused blackberry coulis.  
A chubby quenelle of blackberry sherbet (scooped with a deep soup spoon) pairs icy tang with the warm and crunchy cake.
Recipe coming soon!!

Buttery Art

I have a new love and fascination...with buttercream.  So simple.  So magical!  This particular buttercream was made for me by my extern, who spent many years as a cake decorator.  His technique for making it was unfamiliar to me, so I was a bit skeptical.  Turns out he knew what he was doing.  He likened the texture of his buttercream to oil paint, with the silkiest shine and texture yet the strength to stand tall on its own.

I took the opportunity to work with it on a small 5" birthday cake for my cook's wife.  For the botanically minded, you may recognize my attempt at a climbing blue wisteria.  For those who are not, uh...that's my attempt at a climbing blue wisteria.  Anatomically correct or not, the whole point of the exercise was to bring whimsy, movement, and color to an ordinary cake with just an artful piping of buttercream.  I love how this medium can entirely change a cake's shape.  I also admire how it can pipe beautiful patterns and micro thin petals and still be soft and delicious to eat.

Old Fashioned Beauty

There are really no words to express how satisfying it feels to be able to replicate something I have so loved since childhood.  Each ring of dough I watched float to the top of the bubbling oil kept me in awe.  As those signature cracks revealed themselves and blossomed, I could only keep repeating, "Oh my God, these f*ing rock!".  To glaze them and see them all lined up on the rack, looking perfectly imperfect, was an otherworldly joy.  To eat them was to transport myself back to those wonder years, when an "old-fashioned" could cure all ails.  It was as if I had just found something I'd lost, but didn't realize how much I had missed it until it appeared again.
All sappy sentiment aside, these old-fashioned's are everything you want and need in a doughnut : soft, cakey, tender, light and sweet.  The first couple frys didn't yield the flowery crevices I was aiming for, so I figured a couple slashes with a razorblade would facilitate the blossom effect.  Yes!  It worked!

Please try it for yourself.  They are just as good eaten the morning after they're made.. trust me, I know!

Old Fashioned Doughnuts
About 20 doughnuts with holes

540 g  cake flour
10 g  baking powder
6 g  salt

200 g  sugar
60 g  butter
zest of a lemon
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

80 g  yolks
340 g  sour cream

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, salt, in a bowl.  Set aside.
Cream sugar, butter, zest, and vanilla together until sandy.  Add yolks and sour cream.
Add dry ingredients.  Wrap into a flat square block and chill for at least an hour.  Even when chilled, the dough is very soft.
Roll to 1/2" thick on a well floured bench.
Cut out 3" circles with holes and hold them on a sprayed plastic tray (or tray lined with Silpat) until ready to fry.
Make 3 slashes with a blade on the surface of dough (see picture below).
Fry at 325F and flip often to help the cracks expand.
Drain on paper and allow to cool.

I don't have a recipe for the glaze, but I started with a bowl of 10X, zested in a lemon and orange, along with their juice and seeds of a vanilla bean.  I splashed in some bourbon and whisked in enough skim milk to make a liquid glaze consistency.  Dip the cooled doughnuts into glaze to cover both sides and shake the ring well to let the excess fall back into the bowl.  Allow the glazed doughnut to dry on a rack.