GOOD OL’ SWISS ROLL
Rich and Good Cake Shop continues to preserve traditional cakemaking in a world where speed and convenience rank above all
Rich and Good Cake Shop continues to preserve traditional cakemaking techniques
It’s a quarter past noon on a weekday, and we spot a snaking queue outside Rich and Good Cake Shop located along Kandahar Street. The shop has been a fixture in the Kampong Glam area for the past 20 years and sells handmade swiss rolls at pocket-friendly prices. At first glance, the cakes seem ordinary–nothing fancy like a 20-layer mille crepe cake. But after trying a slice of the shop’s signature kaya roll, we understand why customers are willing to wait in line for hours for their bakes. The sponge is moist yet light and fluffy, while the cream is smooth, fragrant and not too sweet.
“All our swiss rolls are made fresh from scratch daily, which sets us apart from most other confectioneries who mass produce them with machines. We also only use top quality ingredients in our bakes—for instance, we use European butter although it costs a lot more as compared to local butter because it results in better flavours and textures,” shares Jeanne Liu, second generation owner of Rich and Good Cake Shop.
The kaya swiss roll we tasted has been produced for more than 20 years now at the shop Jeanne’s mother, Lily Liu, 75, founded in 1997.
“Back when I was still teaching, I use to bake cakes for family and friends during my free time. I learnt how to bake through attending cake-making classes, and I would often practise my baking skills at home by making lots of cakes which I gave away. The people who received my cakes loved it, and told me I should consider opening a cake shop.
I only gave it (the business) a serious thought after I retired from teaching, and after much encouragement from my family, I launched Rich and Good Cake Shop. In the beginning, I had two shops—one in Bedok and the other in Ang Mo Kio, but that didn’t work out too well. In 1998, we decided to move to Kandahar Street because the rent was lower.
When we first arrived here, this street was like a ghost town. There were not many tenants, and as you can imagine, no hipster cafes or trendy shops. We gradually established our presence here, and now sell about 500 to 600 rolls daily,” Lily says.
ALL ROLLED BY HAND
“When we first launched Rich and Good Cake Shop, everything was made by hand, from grinding the ingredients to mixing the batter, and rolling the cakes. But over the years, we’ve introduced some machines in the kitchen to help us cope with the workload.
We use the machines to help us mix the batter and cream, but when it comes to the more delicate steps, like rolling the cakes, we still do them by hand,” Lily explains.
According to Jeanne, plans to expand their business and increase their swiss roll production are underway, but getting help in the kitchen has been quite tough. “It’s not easy to find staff to make swiss rolls. It’s a big problem because the locals are not interested. It is rather labour intensive,” she explains.
Jeanne is at the shop every morning at 6am to oversee the workers while they prepare the ingredients for the cakes.
“Swiss rolls are not difficult to make, however, they are tedious to prepare. For instance, we use real pandan leaves to prepare the kaya rolls, and the leaves have to be grinded manually to extract the juice. Every component has to come together perfectly for that one delicious bite,” Jeanne adds.
When the shop was first opened in the 1990s, there were only a handful of flavours in their repertoire such as kaya, chocolate, coffee, strawberry and blueberry. Over the years, Lily and Jeanne have expanded their offerings to include new flavours such as red velvet, green tea with red bean, and crème cheese carrot cake.
FOR THE LOVE OF SWISS ROLLS
The mother-daughter duo takes much pride in their confectionery and their dedication to their craft is evident. Indeed, their commitment to quality keeps their customers coming back.
Looking ahead, Jeanne has big plans in store for Rich and Good Cake Shop— she will be rolling out new flavours and setting up a central kitchen in the near future to cater to increased demand, as plans for a new shopfront is underway.
She is also currently working with a design team on a rebranding campaign to change their packaging and logo to keep up with the times. With most bakery chains offering machine-made cakes these days, it is heartening that this 20-year-old confectionery is keeping the tradition of hand-crafted cakes well and alive.
This pageLily Liu was a teacher before she started Rich and Good Cake Shop