Foodie Confidential

A baker and an artist

Co-owner of Creme Maison bakery Angeline Ng ensures that every part of her cakes is edible, including the decoration

In this Instagram age where people flaunt beautifully decorated cakes on social media with abandon, Ms Angeline Ng, 25, co-owner of Creme Maison bakery, makes a distinction between "cake bakers" and "cake artists".

From her observations when she carries out cake workshops, she says: "When I'm showing the baking part of the cakes, the class is silent. But when it comes to the decorating part, everyone gets excited. People just want to take photos of the cake decorations to show off. You can call them cake artists."

With the saturated local market, especially with the proliferation of home bakers, she is venturing to Taiwan.

She has partnered Ms Serene Tan of Dazzling Cafe Singapore and they will open a store in Taipei selling fancy cakes, especially unicorn and floral cakes.

Tea will be a focal ingredient, adds Ms Ng, who sees Taiwan as a stepping stone into Shanghai, China, where they hope to open a store at the end of next year.

She closed her original Prinsep Street outlet two months ago to start her central kitchen-cum-office and storage space in Tai Seng, where she also holds cake workshops.

  • WHAT WOULD YOUR LAST MEAL BE?

  • A meal at Japanese yakiniku restaurant chain Gyu-Kaku. I love the wagyu and grilled cheese.

The expansion has almost tripled her production of cakes - from at least 50 cakes a day at Prinsep to nearly 150 a day.

Baking started as a hobby and, as a child, it was a way for her to bond with her mother on weekends, when they churned out hotdog buns and pastries for her to take to school during the week. Her mother, 52, still does so with her 13-year-old sister, while Ms Ng's 22-year-old brother, a university undergraduate, is "happy to eat".

In secondary school, she learnt cake decorating on her own through reading books and watching videos. After graduating with a business diploma at the Singapore Institute of Management, the budding baker took up an 18-month-long pastry and bakery diploma at At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy before starting Creme Maison in 2014.

While juggling her growing business here and overseas, Ms Ng, who will be getting married in December, will also have to start working on her wedding cake.

Her 25-year-old fiance is a project engineer with the Land Transport Authority. She says: "I'm planning for a five-tiered cake, with three edible tiers of different flavours, so that guests have a choice."

What is your favourite cake flavour?

Strawberry shortcake, a simple cake focused on flavour, cake sponge and texture. I don't bake this at Creme Maison as it is a lighter Japanese-French-style cake. Mine are denser, so they hold moisture and last longer in the fridge. Sometimes, people order a big two-tier cake that is meant for photography. So my cakes have to be able to last throughout the week.

What is your birthday cake of choice?

Blackforest cake.

What is the best cake you have had?

A matcha cheese Swiss roll from Japanese confectionery Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory.

Why do you not make fondant-covered cakes at Creme Maison?

Firstly, fondant is 30 per cent more expensive than buttercream. Then, it requires laborious work which people are unlikely to eat. At Creme Maison, I want every part of my cake to be edible. I also do not like to use an excessive amount of dye. If customers want a vibrantly coloured cake, we advise them against it.

What flavour took you the longest to perfect?

The salted egg jam for the salted egg matcha cake took about three months to perfect. It was hard to get a balance of savoury and sweet flavours, with the right consistency that was not too thick or liquid.

What do you like to eat?

My family likes Japanese food - from ramen to sushi. For ramen, I go to Hokkaido Ramen Santouka at The Central in Clarke Quay. For sushi, I head to Hashida Sushi at Mandarin Gallery. For simple hawker fare, I love the popiah from the Rojak, Popiah & Cockle stall at Maxwell Food Centre.

Are you an adventurous diner?

I've had cod sperm and live squid. In Zhuhai, China, I ate snake gall, which tasted like chicken heart.

What are your mother's best desserts?

She likes to make fruit-based ones such as blueberry crumble and apple custard cake. She also does traditional desserts such as ondeh ondeh and tapioca cake (kueh bingka ubi).

If you could bake a cake for a celebrity, who would you pick?

I would love for American chef and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar Christina Tosi, whom I watch on reality cooking competition MasterChef, to try my cakes.

Which other cooking shows do you enjoy?

I like to watch Cake Boss and The Fabulous Baker Brothers. I also like The Great British Bake Off, as you can learn a lot from the bakers. I also enjoy British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's Great British Food series.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'A baker and an artist'. Print Edition | Subscribe