It's very easy to not only see but feel the passion when you sit down with super-entrepreneur Wendy Tang and listen to her speak so eloquently about her love for baking. If there's ever an example of one following one's dream and turning passion into commercial success, then Wendy is that shining example. We were lucky enough to sit down with her for a chat:
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and introduce Bakabee?
My first love was always music. I trained as a musician and then as a music and English teacher for primary students. I play three instruments but my real love is the cello. I worked as a teacher in Hong Kong local schools and I loved the combination of teaching language and music. Over the years I came to realise that I also have a real talent for craft and I really enjoy doing things with my hands. When we moved to Singapore, in January 2018, it was me who took on the job of building all of the IKEA furniture! My husband just gets mad at it and says there are pieces missing...
2. You clearly have a deep passion for baking, how did that develop?
I think baking began to take centre stage in my life when I combined my talent for using my hands with one of my other great passions - food! I used to see this interest as being satisfied simply by eating nice things but I started to wonder how things were made and whether I could make them too. Initially, I didn’t really have any aspiration to start a business, I was just an amateur cook. Baking really took hold after I started to make my own bread. Very early on, I made a plaited Nutella loaf and it was absolutely delicious - in fact we ate the whole thing as soon as it was cool enough!
From there, I think my talent for craft kicked in and I started to investigate recipes, techniques, cooking gadgets (I love gadgets!). I began to experiment to see if I could make things that not only tasted good but things that looked beautiful. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn - I suppose it became something of an obsession. Now, baking is what I think about most of the time - I have always got an idea I want to try or a technique I want to learn.
3. When did you start Bakabee and what was your inspiration?
My husband got a job in Singapore and I saw the opportunity to take a risk. If I was ever going to find out if I could make it as a baker - this was the moment. My inspiration has been a lot of like-minded expat women at SEW events who are in the same situation as me. All of them have developed their own businesses and it was inspiring to hear their stories, pick up tips and to know that I’m not alone. I have learned so much and I’m very grateful for their friendship and support.
4. What is your favourite thing to bake and why?
There are no baking favourites but I do really like the decorating part of the process. It is always both the most exciting and the most stressful part - I think I quite enjoy the stress as I get closer to delivery time. Can I do it? Will my plan work? What crisis needs to be solved? In this part of the process, I’m not following the rules (recipes), I’m free to create and imagine. Success or failure is all down to my level of skill. It’s an amazing feeling when you’ve delivered the cake and walked away.
5. What is the secret to baking that many people don’t know about?
I think people do have a ‘gift’ for baking but you can’t take short cuts with the details. Baking a cake is a combination of chemistry and engineering, parts of it are very precise. Because of this, I rely on the digital scale as my best friend - measuring cups are not always accurate enough. For example, if a recipe says 1cup of all-purpose flour, it’s equivalent to 128g, but after you sift the flour, if you measure it again by cup, it will be more than a cup because the flour incorporates some air - so I always weigh my ingredients really carefully. I also have an absolutely brilliant oven which gives me an even temperature in every part. That is so important.
6. What tips can you give our SEW readers about the perfect bake?
The first thing I’d say is to set out to have fun - don’t be frightened of doing it wrong, I made mistakes at first and that’s how I learned. Take your time to read the recipe carefully and fully complete each step. For example, creaming the butter and sugar together with a mixer should be done before adding the wet ingredients. Why? The fat in butter holds air, and, when whipped, it expands. In the creaming process, sharp sugar granules slice through the butter, creating air pockets that ultimately give the cake a light and fluffy texture. If you skip this step, you end up with a heavy and dense cake that won’t be nice to eat.
7. What’s new at Bakabee that you would like to share with the world?
This month, Bakabee is proud to launch our online store on Bakabee’s website. It’s much easier and more convenient for customers to order. We have also just launched our personalised Edible Marketing product range for businesses with a promotion campaign. Beyond that, we continue to offer the highest quality of home baked, customised cakes, cupcakes and cookies (including an option of edible printed photos or other designs)
In the pipeline, Bakabee is developing more gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free options for our subscribers so that more people can enjoy the fun of baking and taste the treat of a bake fresh from the oven.
Wendy comes from Hong Kong where she gained a Master of Arts in Music from Hong Kong Baptist University. After graduating she embarked upon a highly successful career as an educator which included an extended spell as a band leader for a number of schools in Hong Kong. She is fluent in three languages and plays three musical instruments. In 2017, Wendy followed her dreams, leaving Hong Kong and her career in education to set up as an entrepreneur and home baker in Singapore. She established Bakabee Pte Ltd in 2018, quickly developing a strong client base for her home baked designer cakes and cookies, as well as links to a number of successful business for whom she has supplied catering services and her edible marketing range of products. In August 2019, she launched the Bakabee online store.
You can find Bakabee online store at https://bakabee.com
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