Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cheap Cake is not Good Cake?

I came across this quote: 

"Cheap cake is not good cake"

 and I couldn't agree more!

Why are premium cakes expensive?

Well, on top of the many, many, many hours (days usually) which we put into decorating a unique fondant cake, we also use the best possible ingredients.

I work in the healthcare industry (pharmacist) and am also a mother of four. I am therefore well aware of the myriad of  chemical additives which go into store-bought processed food and also cheap bakery products.

Among the chemicals commonly used are;
  • Preservatives, which make the products last longer. 
  • Emulsifiers (eg: Ovalette) which produce a wonderfully soft and smooth texture to cakes and many other food products. 
  • Anti-mold which prevents mold growth, especially in breads. Without this chemical, the common white sandwich bread would grow moldy in a day! 
There is also plenty of trans fat (the worst kind of fat) hidden in margarine and shortening. Look carefully before buying "butter", as some are not butter at all, but misleadingly labelled to make the consumer think it is butter! Many are made of vegetables oils which have gone through a chemical process (hydrogenation) to turn them into solids and coloring is added to make it a butter yellow! *serious* These are loaded with harmful trans fat due to the chemical processing. Real butter is expensive and less stable, so most bakeries use margarine or shortening.

This is why I try not to buy bakery products too often for my kids. Whenever possible, I make my own. So, knowing all this, I cannot in good conscience feed my clients junk either.

These are some of the premium ingredients I use whenever possible. (In this small town, steady supply is unfortunately never guaranteed!)

Anchor butter is pure New Zealand butter made from real milk. It is also certified halal. Through experience, I can attest that it has less water content compared to some other brands, and is thus denser, richer and creamier!

Van Houten cocoa powder is luxuriously dark and robust in flavour! It is made in Holland, and Van Houten invented the famous Dutch process for producing cocoa powder. I have used other cocoa powders  like Hershey's and just by comparing the colour, I can tell that Van Houten is the superior product. Hershey's is a light brown colour, whereas Van Houten is a gorgeously rich, deep, dark brown.

Belcolade dark chocolate discs from Puratos Inc., Belgium. This is a gloriously decadent, real Belgian chocolate. I love chocolate, in case you haven't noticed, so none of that cheap slimy stuff for me thankyouverymuch.

 I use this chocolate to make my ganache and my kids will always be hanging around like vultures waiting for leftovers! lol!

Satin Ice is an American fondant/ sugarpaste. It's texture and taste make it my favourite fondant to use. It is correspondingly the most expensive, and to top it off, not available here! I have to get it from KL whenever I can. Otherwise, I use the next product...

Bakel's pettinice is also a good fondant, but is sometimes too soft for our weather. It tastes good though and is usually available here. It is a product of New Zealand.

Anchor cream cheese is rich, thick and creamy. I use a lot of it for my cream cheese frosting. Through experience I found that cheaper alternatives, like Tatura cream cheese, are higher in water content and produces a watered down frosting.

Kampung eggs (free range, organic eggs) are a beautiful thing. Their yolks are yellower, and the texture of the egg on the whole is firmer and denser compared to the more abundant, mass-produced ones. Though I must admit, they're not always easy to find. Sometimes they're available pre-packed at the supermarket, though I usually get them from the 'egg uncle' at the Stutong Market. (I have him on speed dial) But most times I have to use regular eggs.

A good cake starts off with good ingredients. It truly does make a difference.


  1. hi! i'm a novice baker who just started to meddle with fondants and modelling. may i knw whr do u get ur supply of CMC/gum tragacanth here in Kuching?

  2. Hi Mel! I get my gum and CMC from KL. As far as I know CMC is not available here, but KT Bakery at King's Centre sells gum tragacanth. I get most of my supplies there as their things are not too expensive

  3. You're so right Priscilla. Unfortunately not many understands or read ingredients. They think Buttercup is butter and firm icing is good. There's so much trans fat lurking in our Malaysian diet, esp in our teh tarik. We can't get full cream condensed milk anymore, most of our teh tarik stalls use sweetened creamer and solid creamer is .. trans fat .

    1. Ya I know right?? So many people are just not aware of what is in all these processed foods! And our labelling requirements here are so lax, so everything is so misleading!


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