Taiwan’s dream baker
Taiwan’s ‘Prince of Bread’ Kevin Wong talks about the bread trends sweeping through his homeland.
KEVIN Wong doesn’t look old enough to be out of school, much less lead a bread masterclass, but the passionate young expert is in a class of his own when it comes to dough.
The 22-year-old’s love of bread began in his teens, as a result of watching a popular reality television show.
“At first, I fell in love with baking and pastry because of the show Cake Boss.
I was 17 or 18. When I went to university, I got more familiar with baking breads, and realised that controlling dough felt very natural to me,” he says.
A graduate of the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism in Taiwan, Wong has been blazing a trail since his undergraduate days, winning the Gold Medal Bread Display at the Food & Hotel Asia 2016 in Singapore and the Bronze Medal Bread Display at the Hong Kong International Culinary Classic (HOFEX) 2015.
As a result of his multiple wins, the Taiwanese media bestowed him the sobriquet ‘Prince of Bread’.
Wong also spent time with French milling company Viron in France, where he learnt more about European-style breads and viennoiserie. He currently works at Master Cao Bakery in Tainan, Taiwan and says his ultimate dream is to one day open his own bakerycum-café.
In Kuala Lumpur recently to lead a series of bread masterclasses at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia, Wong taught participants how to make traditionally soft Taiwanese breads with fillings like mango cheese, red bean and tuna, which he says are all the rage in his homeland.
“In Taiwan, they like mango cheese and other weird-sounding flavours. Taiwanese people also like their breads very soft and stuffed with lots of filling,” he says.
“When I was in France, I tried a lot of French breads and felt like French bread is more about natural flavour. They use fillings like walnuts and dried fruits, and the texture of the bread is sometimes harder. So that’s the main difference between the breads in Taiwan and Europe,” he says.
Wong says however that more middle-income and upper crust Taiwanese are starting to favour crustier European breads, which are also often more expensive.
“In Taiwan, there are two main camps of bread consumers. The first are people from villages who prefer soft Taiwanese sweet bread with different fillings, and the other camp prefers more Europeanskewed breads,” he says.
Wong says it is heartening for him to see that more and more people are embracing baking bread at home.
He says whether you’re a novice or have a little more experience making bread, there are plenty of recipes out there that anyone can easily replicate at home. Like his recipe for mango cheese buns, for example.
“Mango cheese buns are easy to make, in terms of controlling the dough texture. And most importantly, ingredients like mango puree and cream cheese are easy to find everywhere,” he says.
Another recipe that Wong says is easy to master is his recipe for Japanese polo buns.
“The Japanese polo bun is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It has a longer shelf life than the softer-style Taiwanese polo bun and you can keep it in the chiller for two to three days,” he says.
MANGO CHEESE BUN
For the bun
270g high protein bread flour
15g milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp yeast
For the mango cheese filling
500g cream cheese
60g custard powder
75g icing sugar
150g mango puree
Mix all the dry bun ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add water and butter. Mix until well combined. On a clean surface, knead the dough until it looks shiny. In a large greased bowl, proof the dough for 1 hour.
Punch and flatten dough, fold it and roll and shape into 10 mini baguette sizes. Proof for 50 minutes then bake in preheated oven at 170°C for 20 minutes. Cool bread.
Mix all the ingredients for the filling together and place in a piping bag. Slit the top of each bread with a sharp knife and pipe filling in the middle.
JAPANESE-STYLE POLO BUN
For the bun
270g high protein bread flour 15g milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp yeast
salted butter, for filling
For the crust
520g caster sugar
1 lime, zested
1 vanilla pod
960g cake flour
Mix all the dry bun ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add water and butter. Mix until well combined. Knead the dough until it looks shiny. In a large greased bowl, proof the dough for 1 hour. Punch the dough down, divide and shape into 10 round buns. Place on a baking tray. Let the dough rest for 25 minutes, and proof for another 50 minutes. Make an incision through the middle of each bun and put a tablespoon of salted butter inside.
Pre-heat oven to 170°C. For the crust, mix all the ingredients together and divide into 10 portions. Cover the top of each bread with the crust mixture, make long lines across each bun with a knife and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12 minutes.
Wong may be only 22, but he’s already bagged a number of awards, earning him the moniker ‘Prince of Bread’ in Taiwan. His dream is to open a bakerycum-cafe in Taiwan or another country.