From a birthday staple to an everyday treat, cakes are having their heyday right this moment. With a healthy supply of delectable cake shops in the Klang Valley, it is entirely possible to have your cake and eat it too.
Jaslyn Cakes (jaslyncakes.com)
When Jaslyn Rangson graduated with an Economics degree in the UK, the finance job market was depressed. She took it as a sign to embark on a life-long passion – baking cakes, and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu London to conquer the art. “I learnt the importance of getting the basics right at the school. Once you master that, the world is your oyster. Everything is open to improvisation and you can create and tweak as you please. So while our cakes are classics like butter cakes and chocolate chip cookies, we try to make them really well and hopefully, the best versions of themselves!” says Jaslyn, who uses organic eggs and flour for her cakes.
She started supplying cakes from home before opening a pop-up cake stand in local café, Wondermama. Reception was good, and she eventually opened a tiny little shop in Bangsar with partners to sell her sweet and tasty wares. From this little shop of delights, you can expect melt-in-your-mouth cheesecakes, luscious butterscotch blondies and airy madeleines along with sweet essentials such as chocolate peanut butter and chocolate ganache cakes.
We have a predilection for family-run, hole-in-the-wall shops such as Whisk Espresso Bar & Bake Shop in 1 Utama. With its homespun cakes and appearance, it is a cosy and required pitstop for cake and coffee.
“Mom has been baking for the family since we were kids. Her speciality was our grandma's marble cake and her special butter cakes. She would do all the cakes by hand without the help of any mixers or machines,” says Emma Khalid. She recounts that when she and her siblings, Nora and Azlan, bought her a Kitchen Aid mixer, it remained untouched for a year. “She refused to change her techniques as she felt it would alter the cakes. But once the box was opened, we started cranking out baked goods and experimenting with all sorts of cake recipes in the kitchen.”
From home treats to a dessert business, among the baked delights to grace their cake table are the Hummingbird cake, Red Velvet, chocolate tarts and lots of colourful macarons. The quickest to run out is their signature Pink Stacks, a tantalising combination of rose buttercream and white chocolate buttercake. The cakes are baked fresh daily, usually selling out by day’s end.
Cake Jalan Tiung (facebook.com/cakejalantiung)
This new kid on the sweets block has taken up a bright and cheery space in Shah Alam's Seksyen 9. White and clean with a spot of colour from a flock of origami birds, the light is all the better to showcase their delectable desserts. Their utterly delightful sweet treats include favourites like the Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cake, Berry Sue pavlova and chia seed pudding, dressed up to food magazine standards.
Cake Jalan Tiung grew from a part-time hobby to a full-time business for former bankers and couple Nur Shafinaz Abdul Rahman and Hidzad Lahuree. Part of their selling point is the use of quality ingredients such as Belgian Callebaut chocolate and a daily supply of fresh fruits, as well as memorable flavours that last long after the last bite.
Frost & Flourish (frostandflourish.com)
Elvis Presley loved his banana and peanut butter toast. When Sophia Foo of Frost & Flourish had her first taste of the treat in Melbourne, she instantly understood why and that it was only natural that it should become a cake. The King is a decadent confection of banana cake filled with chocolate-covered bananas and smothered with peanut butter frosting, and a signature for this self-taught home baker who is currently supplying her cakes to cafés around town.
“I owe my baking career to my mum who was an enthusiastic baker throughout my childhood. She always got me to help out with simple things like egg washing pastries and lining cake tins. They were little things but I always got so excited about being rewarded with delicious freshly baked treats,” says Sophia, who baked as a stress-reliever while at university.
Other notables in Sophia's repertoire are the kaya toast cake, blueberry lemon curd shortcake and Durian Snow, a vanilla sponge filled and coated with durian cream. Because her mom is diabetic, Sophia is accustomed to making low sugar cakes while still packing lots of flavour. However, it's not all smooth baking. The single bane of her cake career is the all-time everybody's favourite chocolate cake, “I’ve been struggling for over a year to come up with a good chocolate cake. I think I’m almost there but I’m not totally convinced. It’s tough when it comes to flavours I don’t like – and I’m not a fan of chocolate.”
You can find Sophia's treats at The Good Batch and VCR. They are also available for purchase online.
Lim Cheng Cheng of Swich has a passion for cakes. “I would have cakes before a meal. I had cakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And as a snack in between,” she says.
So perhaps it was inevitable that she should put aside a thriving career as a lawyer to make the life switch of opening a cake shop. “I wanted to spend more quality time with my kids, and F&B was the only thing I could do that didn't require me to go back to university,” says the self-taught baker.
Swich cakes take full advantage of local ingredients and seasonal fruits, resulting in unusual but delicious flavours like Gula Melaka Strawberry Shortcake, Cendol Cheesecake, Cempedak Lamington and Mangosteen Cake. “We try to create cakes that incorporate local fruits and flavours that Malaysians are used to but seldom encounter as cakes,” says Cheng Cheng. All the cakes start with a good base of quality ingredients like Valrhona chocolate, Callebaut chocolate and French butter.
These days, Cheng Cheng's preoccupation has shifted from legalese to cake recipes. “I went through a phase where I was creating a new cake flavour or combination of flavours each week. When I ran out of ideas, I'd just ask my staff, friends or anyone I meet what their favourite dessert or cake flavours are, and then start imagining how to make a Swich version of it.”