Tai­wan’s dream baker

Tai­wan’s ‘Prince of Bread’ Kevin Wong talks about the bread trends sweep­ing through his home­land.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By ABIRAMI DURAI star2@thes­tar.com.my

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

Makes 10

For the bun

270g high pro­tein bread flour

15g milk pow­der

40g sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp yeast

150ml wa­ter

30g but­ter

For the mango cheese fill­ing

500g cream cheese

60g cus­tard pow­der

75g ic­ing sugar

150g mango puree

25g cream

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

Makes 10

For the bun

270g high pro­tein bread flour 15g milk pow­der

40g sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp yeast

150ml wa­ter

30g but­ter

salted but­ter, for fill­ing

For the crust

280g but­ter

520g caster sugar

280g eggs

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.

— Pho­tos: ART CHEN/The Star

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.

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