GOOD OL’ SWISS ROLL

Rich and Good Cake Shop con­tin­ues to pre­serve tra­di­tional cake­mak­ing in a world where speed and con­ve­nience rank above all

Wine & Dine - - CONTENTS - WORDS MICHELLE YEE

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

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