ON the second floor of a typical shop lot located in Sri Petaling and ironically, just a level below a fitness centre, a sweet scent permeates the Mama Girl baking studio. The heady aroma of freshly baked confectioneries is strong and seems to be wafting from the far right corner of the studio. There, a makeshift display table has been set up showcasing an array of colourful sugary delights of many shapes and sizes. For someone with a sweet tooth, this is the true definition of paradise.
“Malaysians have always enjoyed eating cakes,” declares BC Ang, the director and CEO of Eat Cake Today, an online portal that delivers homemade cakes and beautifully customised dessert creations right to your doorstep. Adds Ang: “This is especially so during festive and special occasions. But in recent times, the trend has shifted where people simply enjoy eating desserts regardless of the occasion!
“You don’t really need a reason to eat cake. And it’s always the best reason to bring people together because cakes are meant to be shared — not eaten alone!” he says with a grin.
THROUGH THE CENTURIES
To many health practitioners, cakes are often deemed a sinful treat that people cannot seem to stay away from, no matter how hard they try. How do you say “no” to something so delectable? The memories of eating cake is deeply connected to sentimental recollections of our grandmothers and mothers baking in the kitchen or even of those lovely moments bonding with loved ones on birthdays and other memorable milestones.
Cake isn’t a recent creation and its roots in history actually span many centuries. The oldest form of cake recorded in history was thought to be a modification of the humble bread. It is believed that people in ancient Rome first started adding butter, eggs and honey to their bread dough, to produce a sweet, cake-like taste.
In England, early known cakes essentially evolved from bread too. The only difference? The “cake” was round and flat, and it had to be turned over once while cooking. Even the word “cake” is as old as it comes. It is believed to have originated from the old Norse word kaka.
CAKES FOR EVERY SEASON
Preparations aside, cakes have always been baked and served as a celebratory dish on occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and sometimes even funerals. This is a tradition that remains relevant till today.
These sweet treats are synonymous with the act of bridging relationships, building connections and offering quiet comfort during emotional moments. It’s also a window into cultures and geographical locations simply because it’s not hard to figure out where cakes are made and by whom — from the ingredients used as well as the way it is cooked.
However, unlike before, we are now spoilt for choice as they come in a wide range of preparations. Some cake recipes are simple while others can be as elaborate as a fine dining dish and contain a daunting number of ingredients and steps. However, most of the ingredients used in baking a cake are usually easy to procure.
Baking traditions are now a thing of the past — with people being able to travel the world over to learn and incorporate different styles and techniques from different cultures and countries, to create their version of a cake.
“There is a growing demand for cake,” reveals Ang, adding: “Although we may be able to get good cakes from our neighbourhood bakeries, getting a particular type of cake from certain shops or bakers isn’t really as easily accessible. No matter how amazing the cake tastes, no one is willing to brave hours spent wading through traffic and hunting for a parking spot, just to get it.”
Waving his hands at the delectable spread nearby, he says: “That’s how our online cake delivery service will bridge that gap. We are here to help customers procure any cake their heart desires, at any time!”
There are more than 400 types of cakes available at Eat Cake Today. And they are all attainable with just a few clicks. No matter how unique or personal you want your cake to be, Ang is certain that you’ll be able to find it on the online platform which hosts more than 40 bakers. Prices start from an affordable RM40 to as high as RM321. It all depends on what you want. Most importantly, it also promises a swift delivery time of just four hours.
“You can now order a cake when you get into the office, and celebrate your boss’ birthday before your day at the office is over!” concludes Ang, chuckling.
MEET THE BAKERS
Cindy Chan, founder and pastry chef of Baker's Art (Malaysia)
“I started baking customised cakes after collaborating with Eat Cakes Today about two years ago. Most of my decorated cakes incorporate fondant icing and three-dimensional fondant sculptures.
I’ve always had a flair for arts and crafts, so baking and creating artisanal cakes came naturally to me. Customers are now leaning towards drip cakes but there is still a flood of orders for children’s cakes — especially those with Disney characters on them. I’ve lost count of how many Elsas I’ve had to sculpt!
Lately though, I’ve been trying out a new technique — airbrushing cakes. It’s not new in the industry because it’s gained popularity overseas. But over here in Malaysia, I might be pioneering this particular technique! It may look easy but it actually isn’t. The airbrush isn’t a tool that’s easy to master and it takes a lot of skill to operate it. It’s definitely not as easy as spraying a can of paint! However, the finished artwork on the cake is incredible with a high saturation of colours. It takes an enormous amount of patience to perfect this craft.
No matter what the orders may be, my satisfaction comes when I know that my customers enjoy what I bake. It’s their joy in eating my creations which fuels me to create and innovate!”
Edwin Chan, founder and pastry chef of Ennoble (Malaysia)
“The challenges that come with baking spurs me to create new things. For example, macarons aren’t easy to master, but I did it. I believed that if I can handle baking macarons, anything else will be much simpler.
Macarons will always remain a timeless classic for customers. It’s simple, bite-sized and fits any taste buds. However it’s also the trickiest item to bake. To ensure macarons come out looking perfect every single time takes practice. You also need an air-conditioning unit if you’re doing this in Malaysia!
It’s inevitable to encounter a lot of failures at the beginning when trying to bake macarons. But these failures teach you resilience — a quality anyone wanting to be a baker should have.
Aside from macarons, I love to incorporate Asian flavours into my cakes such as matcha and pandan gula Melaka. I’ve got an extensive selection of classic flavoured confectioneries including banana peanut butter, Nutella fudge, salted caramel and even butterscotch cookies. These are the current favourites on my list. They give a clean fresh taste that many will love and they’re not fussy recipes. You’re always guaranteed something delicious!”
Daniel Tay, founder, pastry chef and owner of Cat & The Fiddle (Singapore)
“My father used to own a bakery, and it wasn’t a surprise when I decided to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, for some reason my family couldn’t retain the shop. This pushed me to begin my own brand.
I stumbled on mastering cheesecakes at home by baking for family and friends. I tried out many recipes and eventually devised a unique one of my own. Cheesecake is my personal favourite because it remains such a classic to this day. You can never go wrong eating a delectable slice of cheesecake!
Through the years, I’ve expanded my flavour profile to include perennial Asian favourites such as Horlicks, Milo and even durian.
In this part of the world — from Singapore to China — simple homely flavours sell, coupled with the use of quality ingredients of course. It isn’t the decor that defines the cake, but what it’s made of.