This Canadian Chef Creates Mesmerizing Cakes That Look Like Gems! What’s Her Secret?

December 3, 2018 06:25

Baking is meant to satisfy your taste buds, but it can also be a form of visual art. Learning to make your sweets look like a work of art isn’t easy, but Ksenia Penkina, a 29 year-old international pastry instructor and entrepreneur, is a master of this trade.

Her glazed desserts looks like gems: Polished and neat, with nothing extraneous. And she’s ready to share some of her secrets.

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The Vancouver-based chef tried her hand at many things when she was a teenager, before she found her true passion. Her sister, a pastry chef, sparked her interest in patisserie. Ksenia said:

My passion for patisserie and specifically entremets began when I saw a work of my sister – who is a pastry chef. I was impressed with a beauty of her desserts at first, how flawless it was on the outside. Then I realized how smart and challenging the inside world is. It’s like you meet a perfect partner, who is not only handsome, but also intelligent. And that is how I met my partner in crime – the work that I love.

Ksenia went to Switzerland to hone her skills and discovered the vast complexity and richness of the world of baking. To master the art to perfection, she learned from world-famous pastry chefs, including Frank Haasnoot, Jordi Bordas, Karim Bourgi, and Amaury Guichon.

The young chef’s business is thriving and she refuses to rest on her laurels, as there’s always room for improvement. Ksenia said:

Even today I don’t stop learning and striving to develop herself, constantly educating my palette, skills and techniques. Mainly focusing on the inside world of the dessert, understanding of the chemistry behind it, and a process of product integration.

Ksenia’s work has received international acclaim. She has taught classes in many countries, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, UAE, Qatar, Thailand, India, Mexico, Russia, and Romania. Today, you can sign up for her master classes in Vancouver, but if you’re nowhere near the city, don’t worry! The classes are also available online. And you don’t have to have much experience to get started. Ksenia said:

Master Classes begin from 'Entry Level' and no experience in baking required to learn and create the most tasty and beautiful cakes.

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In September, Ksenia and her team also launched the online pastry shop Haute [ōt], much to the delight of her students and followers, who are learning to create fancy, mesmerizing cakes like the chef does.

In an interview, Ksenia shared the formula of a good cake. It’s quite elegant and sounds simple, but isn’t easy to achieve!

People would know me for my glazing style and I am highly attentive to it. I prefer to leave my desserts with very limited decoration. My cakes already consist of several glaze or velvet colors, adding some additional weight to it is unnecessary. I must say, glazing is my favorite part. However, the most important part is the cake itself.

What’s underneath the glaze is a simple and tasteful combination:

The inside world of my dessert should be simple and clear. I feel most people prefer something they can understand, something they know and familiar with. Having three-four flavors in the cake is enough to understand and recognize what’s on your spoon. Something significant I implement to each of my desserts is balance in textures: light and soft mousse, creamy layer, crunch, biscuit and a bright insert. Altogether is it built into classical shapes: pastry rings or round molds.

The chef described her work in the most fitting terms:

My work is accurate and precise, classy and elegant. Just like me.

Ksenia’s work has attracted attention on social media, and her following continues to grow in leaps and bounds. The chef has more than 336,000 followers on Instagram and over 148,000 followers on Facebook, because she knows exactly how to make her work interesting to others:

Growing web madness also comes with a 'beautiful picture' must-have. Not only your dessert can be tasty, but also attractive to the eye. Nowadays, bakers must not only create unique texture, flavor and balance in their dessert, but also design that should impress your online viewer. It could be your follower, your customer or another chef professional. Many people still trying to go against it, and don’t see the value of a good content. Well, unfortunately this is today’s world. You either go with the flow, learn new skills and develop or you are flowing backwards letting the new generation ahead.

If you’re interested in Ksenia’s work, follow her on Facebook and Instagram and also visit her personal website and online pastry shop.

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