"Everyone should be able to indulge in cake," says Jen Vailoces. "It's one of life's simple pleasures."
For Vailoces, it's more than indulgence. "I've always loved cake," she says, a passion that drove her to leave a career as a physical therapist to open Jennivee's Bakery earlier this year.
A self-taught baker since childhood — like many great bakers, Vailoces started by experimenting with box mixes — Vailoces' specialty is combining elements of her Filipino heritage with classic Southern layer cakes. Playing with lighter-style chiffon cake infused with tropical flavors — think pandan leaf, mango and ube (purple yam, which is increasingly popular around the country) — Vailoces' creations are light, creamy and dramatically sky-high.
"I want to pay homage to those cute Southern ladies who would bring layer cakes to church," says Vailoces, "but with flavors unfamiliar to most Americans."