jen yee pastry


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5-Hour Wedding Cake

I like to think of myself as a fairly organized person at work.  Making lists, checking schedules and calendars, spreadsheets, emails, etc. (btw, this in no way filters into my personal life; I'm a mess at home).

What a surprise to me, then, when our events manager asked me, "How's that wedding cake for tomorrow coming along?". "Uh,


wedding cake?"  Her face drops.  I die a little inside.  I check the wall of the week's events, and there it is in plain sight.  Wedding cake for 70 people.  I assure the poor soul the cake will be awesome!  Luckily, the party requested a vanilla-vanilla cake with berries..easy.

It's already 9pm, and my normal list is far from being done.  The party doesn't start till 5:30pm tomorrow, so I decide to take a chance and trust that my few years of pastry experience can make a nice wedding cake in half a day.

Next day, I have four sheet trays of chiffon in the oven by 11:30am.  A silky vanilla buttercream is done in a flash, and my sous prepped a batch of créme legére for the filling the night before.  And before you ask, no, we do not have wedding cake mise en place stored in the freezer for emergencies like this.  I have to slow down to complete the tedious task of measuring and cutting strips of acetate out of full sheets to fit our ring molds.  On to unmolding the sheet cakes and stamping out three circles for each of the four tiers.  Layering, soaking, and filling ensues, with the delicious addition of Harry's Berries (epic) strawberries embedded in the créme legére.  A quick freeze sets everything into place before removing the rings and acetate.  The "cake turntable-buttercream smoothing thing" takes the most time and focus, especially with four separate cakes, and especially if I want all the tiers to be the same 3 1/4" height... and especially if you're rusty at it like me.  Another quick freeze before assembling, using our bar straws as support stilts for each ascending tier.  It's 4 pm and the cake is built..whew!!  Now for the business of making it look wedding-worthy.  A little more buttercream to seal any seams and gaps, and some simple piping to make it look elegantly finished.

Technical cake ability aside, the success of this endeavor came down to luck and equipment.  Lucky that the couple chose a cake flavor that required all readily available ingredients.  Lucky that their impeccable taste in flowers allowed me to garnish the cake with gorgeous color and shape.  I would've been severely set back without our trusty blast-chiller.  And our stock of ring molds and gadgets kept the process running smoothly.  And I feel most lucky that I have a team to help me out and/or stay out of my way when I need them to.

When it came time to cut the cake, I stole half a slice, to taste of course!!  The freshness and integrity of the ingredients were so apparent, the taste so delicious, that it almost convinced me to make EVERY wedding cake this way.

A Romantic Wedding

I admit that wedding cakes scare me a bit.  The pressure and anxiety lie more in disappointing the bride (and groom; or grooms; or brides) by not meeting their expectations rather than the actual construction of the cake.  This is not to say that I'm altogether confident at cake decorating either.  No offense, but gum paste artistry kind of bores me.  I appreciate the work, but would rather see, feel and smell fresh flowers on a cake than find laborious replicas in sugar that have been breathed on for hours.  I prefer wedding cakes that make me want to jump into its soft, fluffy icing and devour every bite.  So when a bride comes to me with a photo of a fondant-ized cake she would like to emulate, what am I to do?  I can only say yes, and hope that my patience can carry me through all the smoothing, modeling, crimping, etc that is required of such an undertaking.

I think that very patience paid off in this cake, and I'm extremely grateful to my staff who actually revel in working with this medium.  One 7kg bucket of fondant later, came to fruition a feminine and romantic 5-tiered display with a touch of 50's prom dress chic.  My opinions aside, I wouldn't be mad if this were to show up at my wedding.  I hope our bride felt the same.

Panda Love

This was our second wedding at the restaurant since I started working here, and I think this might be my favorite cake so far.  It pairs cute personality with simple elegance.   And the best thing: it was easy to make!  No fiddling with smoothing buttercream, no garish sugar flowers, no edible paint spraying.  Even the pandas, with their matching bowler hats, were surprisingly a cinch to put together.  The cake was built in more of a French entremet style, with a vanilla genoise at the base, a layer of sweetened red azuki beans spread on top, then covered with green tea mousse.  Once frozen, I was able to unmold and stack the tiers.  The naked sides were then shingled with plaques of white chocolate.  The exposed borders of mousse got sprinkled with fresh raspberries and simple gum paste leaves.