Volunteer Park Cafe head baker Emily Weeks started out making sandwiches at Le Panier during high school, and had pastry lead on her resume by the time she graduated and attended Seattle Central's specialty desserts and breads program.
Weeks landed at the VPC two years ago this month. "And I was just part time because the other baker, Heather, was still here and then she left in October to open the Wandering Goose so I was fortunate enough to be able to take over as head baker, which is great. I've been able to have a lot of creativity and kind of make it my own thing and experiment."
Week's gig is a mix of preparing house favorites and whatever she's in the mood for that day. "If I come in and think 'oh I feel like making chocolate cake, I can make a chocolate cake'." You'll also find her namesake Emily's buns on the menu, filled with blueberries, apples, or Nutella. Presumably Nutella obtained by legal means. The treats even had their own segment on Q13 recently.
Here, a few of Emily Weeks's favorite things:
Favorite morning pastry: Blueberry muffin
First thing ever baked: When I was four my mom taught me how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie—soft on the inside, crunchy on the edges, with just the right amount of chocolate. I’ve been following her baking lead ever since.
It's your friend's/roommate's/mom's birthday. What do you make? Whatever their heart desires. If it's something I’ve never made before, even better!
Signature pastry: Emily’s Buns! Blueberry, apple cinnamon, Nutella, cheddar onion…and more to come.
Hardest thing to make: Caramel. It's not so much hard as it is tedious. It takes forever to start turning golden, but once it does, you can’t take your eyes off of it for a second.
Precise measurements are… Mostly necessary in baking, because it is a science; but I’ll admit, I don’t level off every cup of flour.
Messiest ingredient: Flour! I leave white footprints all over the cafe—my coworkers joke that I throw flour in the air for fun.
What have you perfected? The art of working in a very small space, sometimes with numerous people, and still being able to get five things done at once.
Secret technique: You’ll never find out! Whahahah!
Guilty pleasure: Cookie dough! When I was a kid I was sure that the best part about being an adult was the freedom to make a whole batch of cookie dough just to eat raw (and sometimes I still believe that).
Most underappreciated baked good: I appreciate anything with sugar in it!
Best pastries outside of Volunteer Park: Columbia City Bakery! My favorite treat to get there is their poached-pear Danish, and the bread is the best in the city.
Cooking inspirations: Wisdom from my mom, my poppi, my grandma, my boyfriend Drew, and old family recipes that have been passed down from past generations. I love hearing the story behind a recipe.
Wish you could make more of…. Laminated dough and bread (wrapping dough around butter to make it flakey, like with croissants). Right now I just don’t have the space or equipment, but they were some of my favorite subjects in pastry school.
If you weren't a baker you would be… A food writer! What could be better than getting to eat good food and then write about it? Oh right, being able to make that good food would be pretty awesome too.