Crumbly semi-sweet biscuits baked with miso; gochujang-washed nori wafers with sesame; dense, spongey and tart chocolate-and-yuzu cakes; matcha almond croissants; soy crème caramels. If you know Sydney’s sweets scene well, you’ll recognise these dishes as the work of Yu-ching Lee. The pastry chef with a cult following (former head of desserts at Sepia and baked goods at Boon Cafe) is back in the kitchen, this time at Potts Point’s all-day eatery Paper Bird.
As at Boon, Lee’s Japanese and South East Asian influenced treats will be filling up Paper Bird’s takeaway counter. “I've started with things I would make at home, things I like to eat. The chocolate yuzu cake, it’s really simple but great flavour,” she says. “I’m going to slowly build the range. It’ll be mostly things with Asian influences.”
Depending on what day you’re there you may also find vanilla lamingtons, green-tea-and-persimmon cakes and Lee’s popular crunchy-outer, chewy-middle matcha cookies. Lee talks, wide-eyed, about an idea for a giant choc-chip cookie. “It’s really flat and completely crispy. I’ll roll it in some sourdough crumbs – a chocolate sourdough cookie,” she says. “I was [told to] do whatever you want but my restrictions here are the kitchen, which is very small. There are only certain things I can do.”
Yu-ching Lee’s Soy Milk Crème Caramel
Makes four serves.
125g caster sugar
500ml soy milk
95g caster sugar
pinch of salt
168g whole eggs (approx. 3 eggs)
20g yolk (approx. 1 yolk)
Grease the sides of four crème caramel moulds. Melt 125 grams of sugar in a pan on medium heat. Cook to a caramel consistency then divide immediately among the four moulds. Allow to cool completely.
Warm the soy milk and 95 grams of sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Gently whisk together the eggs, yolk and salt in a bowl. Pour the heated milk over the egg mixture, whisking until just combined. Strain the mixture, skim any froth from the surface, and divide among the caramel moulds.
Place the moulds in a baking tray, and add water to the tray until it reaches halfway up the moulds. Cover the tray with foil, and cook at 125 degrees Celsius until just set (25–30 minutes). Chill overnight. To serve, dip the base of the mould briefly in very hot water. Run a knife around the edge and tip the custard out onto a dish.