Two of the best pas­try shops

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

eclair — have in­her­ently be­come an in­te­gral part of the food scene as well.

Here are two of Shang­hai’s most well-known and ubiq­ui­tous pas­try chains.

The of­fi­cial name of this house­hold bak­ery is the Sino-Bri­tish Ruby Foods Com­pany, but most lo­cals af­fec­tion­ately call it “hong baoshi” or Ruby.

Many peo­ple say that this shop was founded in the 1920s dur­ing Shang­hai’s golden days, but the truth is that it was founded in 1986 by an over­seas Chi­nese man named Guo Bingzhong who had re­turned to Shang­hai af­ter years in Eng­land.

Guo later in­vented a cake with a base made of light sponge and topped it off with cream and jam. The fin­ished prod­uct looked as if it was a bright red jewel sit­ting atop a bed of snow. This cake was sim­ply known as the “lit­tle cream cube” and it was the high­light of the day for many chil­dren as their par­ents would of­ten prom­ise them with “a bite of the cloud” if they were good.

Ruby’s Food was the go-to place for desserts un­til the 1990s when Shang­hai was swarmed with a wave of Western patis­series.

To­day, there are more than 70 shops scat­tered all around Shang­hai and the bak­ery’s iconic cream cake is still its sig­na­ture dessert.

This place was founded in the 1920s as a French-style cafe that was helmed by three lo­cal pas­try chefs who had a cap­i­tal of eight gold bars. Kaisil­ing is also fea­tured in Shang­hai’s lit­er­ary mae­stro Eileen Chang’s Lust, Cau­tion novel.

How­ever, it was the take­away counter that was, and still is, the most pop­u­lar. Some say that this was pri­mar­ily be­cause of the poor ser­vice — state-run restau­rants usu­ally worry lit­tle about turn­ing a profit so their staff are usu­ally not con­cerned about main­tain­ing ser­vice stan­dards.

The cafe’s French pas­try cream horn eclairs and chest­nut gateaux are the best­sellers among the Shang­hainese and are most of­ten bought as af­ter-din­ner treats. Ask any dessert and pas­try lover and he or she would likely tell you that the eclairs are dan­ger­ously ad­dic­tive.

There are more than 50 Kaisil­ing out­lets across the city to­day and they can be found in depart­ment stores, at the en­trances to neigh­bor­hoods and even in the metro sta­tions. Its most pop­u­lar of­fer­ing is the chest­nut gateaux that is a less sweet but bet­ter tast­ing al­ter­na­tive to the ones sold at for­eign bak­eries in the city.

PHO­TOS BY GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

1) Dough that has been mixed with but­ter is kneaded to form mul­ti­ple lay­ers. Chefs say that the greater the num­ber of lay­ers, the crispier the pas­try be­comes. 2-3) The dough is then flat­tened and cut into slices that are as thick as a deck of cards be­fore they are placed in the oven. Tim­ing is cru­cial as it de­ter­mines whether the pas­try turns out soggy or crispy. 4) Priced at 20 yuan for a bag of five pieces at Deda, th­ese snacks have been sell­ing like hot­cakes in re­cent times.

BY GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY PHO­TOS

Ruby’s Foods’ lit­tle cream cube

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