Pastry chef Yu-ching Lee is back at Boon Café

Author: Interview by Maggie Scardifield
Photography: Yu-ching Lee

If you were a fan of her pandan lamington, you're going to love what Sydney pastry chef Yu-ching Lee has planned for her next residency at Boon Café, which kicked off this week.

How did your relationship with Boon come about, Yu-ching?
I met Palisa Anderson (co-director of Boon Café and Chat Thai) at a previous bakery job where she was a regular customer. Last year over Christmas, she asked if I would supply Boon Café with a selection of sweets since her regular supplier was going to be away on holiday. I baked for the café for about two or three weeks, and everything was well received, so I've continued to supply them with a few things on and off for the past couple of months.

And what do you have planned this time around?
Now that I'm baking onsite, I'm able to send items up to the shop as soon as they're ready. This means warm cookies and, in the future, hopefully cinnamon buns straight from the oven (when they're at their best). Also, we've talked about exploring other items like Thai sausage rolls, using ingredients like coconut ash, and infusing baked sweets with the flavours of the Thai dessert candle.

Where are you looking to for inspiration?
The produce section of Jarern Chai.

What baked goods can we expect to see on the new menu?
I'm hoping to start testing some crunchy topped choux buns, and would also love to make a mini version of Amy Chanta's birthday cake, which was a coconut pandan tres leches cake.

Your pandan lamington and matcha chiffon cake caused quite a stir earlier in the year. What do you think will be the next favourite?
The chocolate ganache brownie topped with salty peanut brittle.

Where did you learn to bake?
I guess I learned mostly from cookbooks (like Belinda Jeffery's Mix & Bake) and being greedy enough to want cake every day. All the things I've been making for Boon are simple bakes that I also like to make and eat at home.

You used to cook at Sepia. Does anything you learnt there pop up in your home cooking?
At Sepia I was introduced to Japanese ingredients like umeboshi, yuzu, miso and matcha, all of which I still love using.

What produce are you most excited about at the moment?
Citrus like Meyer lemons, and cherry blossoms, which I'm hoping to have a go at preserving, for future cakes.

Coming into spring, what do you want to cook for Boon?
Fruit tarts.

And on your days off, what are you cooking at home?
Sourdough bread.

Do you have a secret ingredient that you love to cook with?
Yuzu, when I can get it.

What's your favourite dessert of all time?
It changes all the time. Currently it's a warm chocolate soufflé cake with chocolate whipped cream and candied spiced orange.


Warm chocolate soufflé cake with chocolate whipped cream and candied spiced orange.


What five things should passionate home cooks have in their pantries?
Sea salt, vanilla, two kinds of dark chocolate (for whipping up emergency brownies) and whiskey.

What ingredient couldn't you live without?
Salt.

Boon Café, 1/425 Pitt St, Haymarket, NSW, (02) 9281 2114, booncafe.com







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