Meet Jeney Christensen, Empress of Joy, and founder of Peney Cakes!
If you’re looking for the sweetest treat of the summer, look no further than Fergus Falls, Minnesota’s own Peney Cakes! Peney Cakes is a local cupcakery with the most delicious, unique, and wacky flavors, all run by queer entrepreneur, Jeney Christensen (she/her).
Christensen opened Peney Cakes with the dream of delivering sweetness to her community. She says, “I quickly discovered that feeding people was a kind of love language of mine… I love being able to create wild flavor combinations and decorate elaborate designs on tiny little individual cakes.” Her dream to own her own cupcakery stems from a childhood of happy memories baking with her mother in her childhood kitchen. Christensen says, “I used to help my mom bake cookies and cakes for holidays every year and once I moved out on my own, it became a sort of comfort hobby… My mom passed away suddenly in 2019, and I like to think she’s still in the kitchen with me scolding me for eating the chocolate chips before I can put them in the batter.” Christensen’s love for her craft can be felt all in the atmosphere of Peney Cakes, and baked into the cupcakes themselves. From a childhood of baking, to picking up the craft as a side hustle, all the way to a full time job, Christensen has definitely seen it all when it comes to running a cupcakery. She is grateful for her journey, and says, “It’s certainly something I still can’t quite believe I am privileged enough to live my literal dream.”
When you get a cupcake from Peney Cakes, you can expect anything but the ordinary. Christensen says that, while she will make classic cupcakes like chocolate or vanilla for custom orders, she much prefers to live on the wild side and create complex yet delectable flavors. She says, “I pride myself on not doing “boring cupcakes”… If you are coming up to the Cupcake Trailer, you’re more likely to find a chocolate chip cupcake full of marshmallow and topped with peanut butter icing along with caramel, popcorn, pretzels, potato chips, chocolate candies, and peanut butter cups.” She continues, “Life is far too short for a boring cupcake.” Some fan favorites are her Tiramisu and German Chocolate cupcakes, as well as her Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes. Christensen says, “Recently I did a twist on Bananas Foster for a pairing collaboration with Fergus Brewing and I know that one sold out in record time. I am always looking for a way to take unique flavor combinations and classic desserts and turn them into cupcakes!”
At Peney Cakes, you’ll never be disappointed with your options, and you’ll certainly never be bored. Christensen considers each cupcake a work of art; she says, “It’s my favorite artform and an excellent way to work my creative muscles.” And don’t worry if you’re gluten or dairy free! Christensen has taken dietary restrictions into consideration too. She explains, “I can make any of my cupcakes gluten free, and most of them can be made dairy free as well. I have been told my gluten free Red Velvet is better than my classic, and I know customers rave over the dairy free Cafe Mocha and Cookies & Cream!”
Aside from making scrumptious cupcakes, Peney Cakes also prides itself on being a safe and inviting space for all, specifically LGBTQ+ people, BIPOC and disabled people. Christensen says, “As the political climate in our nation continues to intensify and hateful rhetoric against LGBTQ+, BIPOC, disabled, and a myriad other marginalized communities continues to grow more and more violent, I think it is of the utmost importance for those of us who hold power in our communities as business owners to let those groups know we are safe, inclusive spaces.” Of course, being a queer-owned and woman-owned business, Peney Cakes innately offers an environment of care and inclusivity, but Christensen also makes an active effort to assure all feel welcome at her cupcakery. She shares a story about deciding to come out, in an effort to help make queer youth feel more seen and loved:
“I struggled for a long time trying to decide if I should publicly come out [as bisexual/pansexual] or not. I am in a stable, het-presenting relationship with two children and have lived the majority of my life with the privilege and protection of being assumed as straight. What right did I have to proclaim my queerness while I could still “hide” behind my marriage? But once I got involved with SAGA Youth as well as the LGTBQ+ members of my community, I came to see my story and identity is important regardless of how I got there. I was reminded of this recently when a friend told me her child came out to her as bisexual. She mentioned to them that, ‘Jeney, who you just bought brownies from? She’s bisexual too!’ Their reply? ‘Really?! That makes them so much better!’”
Christensen shows us that it is never too late to live your truth and find community with those around you. And she’s absolutely right—it makes everything better to feel like you’re not alone in the things you’re going through.
Growing a business hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies and…well, cupcakes, though. Christensen jokes, “I threaten to shut everything down and go work as a barista somewhere at least once a week… Being an entrepreneur—especially a queer and female one—is hard AF. I was told how to run my business by people who really didn’t understand my vision.” But Christensen perseveres, and we are so lucky that she does. She adds that even with all the difficulty of running her own business, “I can say, unequivocally, it is absolutely worth it.”
When things get tough, Christensen can lean on the incredibly strong foundation of care, love, community, and tasty cupcakes that she’s built with Peney Cakes. She remembers her roots and the reason she started baking in the first place. She says, “Growing up, my nickname was Jeney-Penny—both my mother and my grandfather coined it. I decided to use it as my business name to honor their memories as well as to remember where I started: in a tiny little kitchen in the Southern Suburbs of Chicago helping my mom roll thumbprint cookies in walnuts.” At the end of the day, it always comes back to doing what you love and loving what you do. Christensen says, when asked what made her want to open up a cupcakery in the first place, “cupcakes are just so much fun!” We agree—there’s nothing as fun as a Peney Cakes cupcake.
If you want to visit Jeney and get your hands on a delicious and unique cupcake, visit Peney Cakes—her address and hours are below. And don’t forget to follow her on social media, so you never miss an awesomely sweet update!
116 S. Union Ave., Fergus Falls, MN
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.