It is fitting that in person, Jaslyn Rangson is a sweet young woman with a sunny smile who laughs often and easily. This sweetness is also reflective of her job, which involves whipping up all sorts of desserts at her two cafes – Jaslyn Cakes and new baby, Dew.
Rangson’s interest in baking began as a child, when she would often pore over cookbooks. Her first baking experience was making Anzac biscuits for a school fair, and that initial success spurred her interest even further. At university in England (where she was studying for a degree in economics), she started baking cakes and cookies for extra pocket money.
“I would bake for my family and friends’ events and I also did some bake fairs at university. I baked a lot, just for fun. It was more of a hobby that I started to make money from,” she says.
That hobby quickly proved more long-lasting and Rangson went on to do a diploma in patisserie at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu in London. When she came back to Kuala Lumpur, she started baking from home, and had a pop-up at local eatery Wondermama.
But Rangson had always dreamed of opening her own place, so in 2014, she opened a little (and by that, I mean really small) cake shop called Jaslyn Cakes in the Telawi area of Bangsar. The eatery became a huge hit, with homey sweet concoctions like sticky date pudding, banana yoghurt loaf and salty Valhrona brownies quickly earning her a rabid fan base.
“We deliberately looked for a small shop – we wanted something small and cosy, and easy to manage. I just prefer smaller places!” she says.
A few months ago, Rangson opened her latest venture, another impossibly tiny dessert cafe called Dew (which is also right next to Jaslyn Cakes).
“It was just an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. Our neighbour moved out and we thought, ‘It can’t get better than this – it’s right next door!’ And it was quite an exciting prospect – to make new pastry that we can’t sell next door,” she says.
Although the two are literally next door to each other, Rangson says that initially she didn’t want to disclose that they were any relation to each other.
“We actually didn’t really want to tell people that we owned Jaslyn Cakes as well, because we wanted people to come in without any expectations. We wanted them to come and try our new cakes with an open mind,” she says.
Because both spaces are so small, you have to wonder why Rangson didn’t just knock down the wall between both outlets and widen the space, so that people could sit comfortably.
“We never had any intention to expand, we just wanted to do something different – a totally different concept,” she says.
And indeed, the difference between Jaslyn Cakes and Dew is instantly palpable. While the former has a home-hewn, family-centric feel to it, Dew is distinctly more sophisticated with a florist at the entrance and sleek marble-topped tables inside taking centre stage. This aura extends to the desserts as well; Dew offers sophisticated, Instagram-worthy desserts that are in direct contrast with the more homemade concoctions on offer next door.
“For Dew, it’s more French-inspired patisserie, and it’s very much inspired by nature because we are a florist as well, so we try and tie everything together so the colours are all very neutral, and very natural, and the ingredients and flavours as well. I suppose it’s a little bit more refined at Dew,” says Jaslyn.
The 10 dessert offerings on Dew’s menu came about after lots of trial and error, and Rangson says she experimented with close to 20 different options before picking the final 10. Every month, she also adds a new flavour to the menu.
To get a feel of what Dew is about, try the basil-lime tart (RM19) which incorporates basil mousse, lime and basil curd and meringue. The dessert offers bold, pronounced herbaceous flavours that meld fluidly with Rangson’s vision of imbibing a botanical theme into her creations.
The rose & grapefruit mousse is light with understated rose notes interspersed with tart grapefruit flavours.The same can be said of the rose & grapefruit mousse (RM19) which has rosewater mousse, grapefruit curd and fresh grapefruit segments in it. This is a light, feminine creation with tart grapefruit flavours in the centre and subtle rose accents running throughout it.
The chocolate souffle (RM16) came about because Rangson wanted something warm and comforting to offer customers. It is made to order, so you might have to wait 15 minutes or so for your dessert. The souffle is feather-light with rich, chocolatey flavours.
In the future, Dew will also potentially serve as a speakeasy with guest bartenders, but that is still in the planning stage at the moment. Both Dew and Jaslyn Cakes are constantly thronging with people, even at odd hours like 3pm on a random Friday (which is when we went). You’ll see families with children, hipsters and their friends and a general motley crew of patrons all eagerly tucking into the wide assortment of desserts. Which makes you wonder – given the enthusiastic crowds at her existing shops, are there plans to open another one?
Ultimately, Rangson says she is happy with her two little outlets and has no plans for another one just yet.
“I would say probably not. You have to wait for results, for the shop to grow. It’s not easy, but I have no regrets,” she says.