Filipino and American Baking Styles Marry in Sky-High Cakes at Jennivee's Bakery

Staff Writer
This Chicago baker traded in her physical therapy day job to open this cake shop
Jennivee's Bakery
Michelle Kanaar/Chicago Tribune

The cake shop is known for its whimsical, sky-high confections.

"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."

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Find out what sets her cakes apart.