A decade ago, Jasmine Rae de Lung, a San Francisco-based cake maker, wanted to test out some new decorating elements. She headed to Clement Street in the Richmond, a neighborhood with several Asian markets. Her haul that day included some rice paper sheets, typically used to form Vietnamese spring rolls.
Back in her Mission District kitchen, de Lung realized the sheets wouldn’t work for draping on a cake; they became flimsy when wet and shrank and shattered when refrigerated. The diaphanous material offered greater potential, though, in detailing: Cut into pieces, dyed, dried and attached to wire, the rice paper resembled delicate flowers.
But de Lung also learned the paper couldn’t be commanded; it curled and changed in unexpected ways. Instead, she had to create multiple versions and choose which ones worked best with the cake. “You have to let it be the beauty that it wants to form,” she said.
De Lung, whose business is named Jasmine Rae Cakes, embraces this sort of serendipity. Her artistry, she said, “is rooted in the natural process, how time changes things, surrendering to what’s going on as opposed to designing and creating every last detail.”
At first Jasmine de Lung baked items for local cafes, but decided in 2010 to focus exclusively on cakes, and now primarily makes them for weddings.
She never trained professionally as a baker, or even baked as a hobby. But with the encouragement of her boyfriend at the time, de Lung began her business in 2006 as an outlet for creative experimentation. (She’s drawn to unusual flavors, like calamansi and osmanthus tea, and roasted apricots and almonds.) At first she baked items for local cafes, but decided in 2010 to focus exclusively on cakes, and now primarily makes them for weddings.
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