FIREPLACE. Remnants of Christmas decorations. Appealing blooms in little vases. The accustomed aroma of block baking wafting in the air. A aberrant faculty of accepting been in this cosy little amplitude afore aback envelops me.
It’s aloof like walking through the aperture into the accustomed embrace of that abode alleged “home”. Eagerly, I abide to booty in the picture-perfect arena of my dimly-lit surrounds from the accessible aperture — the all-embracing mix of furniture; the amusing touches in every alcove and cranny; the absorbing affectation of adroitness on the walls…
“Hideaway”, the babble emblazoned above the bottle window by the access of this bazaar bistro makes me smile. That, it absolutely is, I brood silently to myself, abandoning how I about absent this abode in my affronted attempts to locate it earlier.
I’d apprenticed about Blessed Mansion accommodation in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, congenital in the 1970s but acclaimed today for apartment a cardinal of active cafes, at atomic alert over!
The afterimage of an elegant-looking lady, her aphotic beard angry aback in a accurate bun arising from the kitchen address a tray of afresh broiled scones propels me to accelerate my accomplish arise the counter. “Oh my!” I couldn’t arrest the awkward bleat of blitheness from artifice my aperture at the afterimage of rows of cakes sitting demurely beneath the awning of glass. The adolescent babe manning the till smiles at me knowingly, afore continuing to serve her customer.
Pandan Gula Melaka. Marble cake. Orange Poppyseed cake. Victoria Sandwich. Lemon Drizzle. Blueberry Almond. Afterwards realising it, I acquisition myself mentally addled off what’s accounting on the cards by the block stand.
Oh, what’s this? A block angle area a amber adulate block should accept captivated cloister is empty. My agitation charge accept been so audacious for the babe at the adverse to about-face to me already afresh and allay me that they’re baking added at the back.
“Would you like to try the Pandan Gula Melaka? It’s our bestseller…” The complete of a soft, affectionate articulation makes me attending up from my absorbed analysis of the abandoned glass.
It’s the affected adult with the accurate bun, her attentive face arced in a amiable smile.
“I’m not a Pandan Gula Melaka person,” I protest, the angel of the “lost” amber block still addictive me. But she’s appealing actuating and eventually, aloft her amiable urging, I relent. “Can I accept a hot amber with that please?” I acquisition myself adage to Doreen Thean, whom I’m anon to apprentice is the amiable buyer of this absorbing little hideaway.
TRADITIONAL AND CLASSIC
“I don’t do ‘pretty’ cakes!” exclaims Thean whom I’d eventually arrive to accompany me for a babble at my table by the window, as a bashful allotment of Pandan Gula Melaka block and a cup of hot amber magically arise in advanced of me.
A artful glance to the apple above the window and I can see the sky has angry a angry canvas of graphite grey, hinting at an approaching downpour.
“This bistro prides itself on giving barter the affectionate of traditional, archetypal cakes that your grandmother ability accept made. Our specialty is our adulate cake, by the way,” she adds, amusement good-naturedly.
Butter block is a block area one of the capital capacity is butter. Considered one of the quintessential cakes in American baking, it’s said to accept originated from the English batter cake, which commonly acclimated according amounts of butter, flour, amoroso and eggs to accomplish it.
Certainly, there’s a apparent absence of alarum and basal in the alternative of cakes here. So acclimated to the richer Insta-worthy, picture-perfect creations, Thean’s affection to action added “understated” cakes takes me by surprise.
“I aloof appetite bodies to be able to absolutely TASTE the cake,” says the adorable 55-year-old, afore administration with me that bisected of the time, she feels that the adorned icing and chrism et al alone serve to asphyxiate out the absolute aftertaste of the cake.
Her attack into the apple of cakes began aback she was challenged by a chump to go above her abundance zone. She was still alive in a bakery at Publika, which belonged to her daughter’s asperse and his sister. “I was there for seven years and had accomplished myself how to broil all kinds of wholemeal bread,” recalls Thean, who is of Melaka-Nyonya descent.
Adding, she remembers that a chump had asked her why the bakery didn’t advertise cakes. “She appropriate that aback I could already accomplish bread, why not I broil cakes too.” It was a advancement that Thean absitively to contemplate seriously.
Almost breathlessly, she reels off: “I’d accomplished myself how to accomplish bread. And actuality a Nyonya, I already knew how to accomplish pineapple tart. By then, I’d additionally been bartering fresh, bootleg Nyonya caramel kaya to an upmarket bazaar for years. So, why not block next?”
After poring over YouTube, the mother-of-one fabricated her aboriginal block — an Orange cake. It was able-bodied accustomed by her customers, remembers Thean. “I anamnesis accession saying, ‘don’t dress the block up, if you dare. Let the block allege for itself!’ Those words backward with me.”
After the success of her aboriginal cake, she was asked to accomplish a Marble cake. Rolling her eyes in apish horror, the above Malaysia Airlines (MAS) stewardess, who soared the skies aback in the backward 1980s to aboriginal ’90s, exclaims: “Macam backbone nak buat Marble block pulak (How to accomplish Marble cake)? I had no abstraction how to actualize that arced pattern! But my chump told me to watch YouTube lah. So I did and was eventually able to cull off a Marble cake!”
It wasn’t continued afore accession customer, a advocate this time, came in to appeal for article appropriate for her mother — a adulate cake. “I was like, errr…” says Thean, amusement heartily, afore adding: “But afresh I reflected, if I could accomplish a Marble cake, afresh I assumption a adulate block would be the aforementioned jalan (method) — but afterwards the chocolate!”
THE RIGHT MIX
So, for the abutting eight months that ensued, Thean was alms her loyal barter three types of cakes at the bakery — Orange, Marble and Butter. “My daughter, Amanda, said to me, ‘Mama, you’re aloof SO sad. Alone THREE cakes in eight months!'” she recalls with mirth.
It was aloft Amanda’s advancement that Thean, who was additionally in the allowance band for added than 20 years, absitively to up her game. “She appropriate that I analysis out YouTube to see how I could accomplish Blueberry Almond tea block pulak,” shares the ardent baker, who confides that she grew up in a domiciliary that acclimated to accomplish a lot of Nyonya kueh — but not cakes.
“My grandmother never acclimated to accomplish cakes,” she recalls with addicted smile. “We all Nyonya la! From young, I bethink my abundant grandma, my grandma, my mother… they fabricated and awash Nyonya kueh in the acreage that we lived in. Last time, my ancestor acclimated to assignment with Sime Darby in Merlimau, Melaka. I’d aloof advice with putting in the fillings for the kueh.”
Chuckling, she acknowledges her abrupt apostrophe and apace allotment to the affair at hand. “Where were we?” jokes Thean afore proceeding to acquaint me that what she apparent on YouTube didn’t absolutely sit able-bodied with how she capital her cakes to be.
“They were so dense. It was accessible I couldn’t await 100 per cent on what I saw. So I absitively to comedy about with the capacity to see if I could accomplish what I wanted.”
Thus followed months of acute experimentations; from aloof basal ingredients, Thean started accumulation beginning fruits, nuts, seeds and assorted accustomed capacity to her mix. “Soon enough, I was able to accomplish Poppyseed cakes, Polenta cake, Banana cake… Today, at Hideaway, I broil at atomic 18 types of cakes, which are rotated daily,” shares Thean, eyes dancing with pride.
Asked what the abstruse to a acceptable block is, she smiles afore acknowledging simply: “Good ingredients. The flour, the butter… and definitely, no shortcuts. If you don’t get what you it is that you’re after, try and try again. Don’t be afraid to be adventuresome and experiment!”
Beaming, she poses: “And do you apperceive aback a adulate block tastes good?” I agitate my head, abashing apparently categorical all over my face. A alive nod, and Thean exclaims: “Eat it the abutting day!”
Eyes dancing at my bewilderment, she advises: “Look carefully and you’ll see that by then, the basal allotment of the block will be dry because all the oil has risen to the top, authoritative it nice and moist. Meanwhile, if margarine is used, by the afterward day, the oil would accept travelled to the basal authoritative the block aftertaste absolutely oily!”
Now, I know!
Bathed in a dim glow, the alone antecedent of ablaze clarification in from the few windows in the cafe, Hideaway, a name coined by Thean’s daughter, absolutely does alive up to its name. There’s not the affectionate of harried bustle that you tend to appointment at the added “happening” cafes about town.
The blessed punters actuality comprise families and groups of girlfriends out for a candied amusement and a acceptable catch-up. Suffice it to say, it’s the affiance of acceptable ancient block amidst a aloof surrounding that has absorbed them here.
“Today marks our additional year that we’ve been opened,” shares Thean, afore abacus that above-mentioned to this, the amplitude was absolutely a spa, which had somehow accomplished operations for added than 11 months. Asked why this somewhat unusual, characterless locale, amidst by aerial blocks, became her area of choice, Thean, who absolutely resides about in Bangsar South, explains: “I like the actuality that it’s a little hidden, abroad from the madding crowd. And parking is easy!”
As I booty a comfortable sip of my hot chocolate, I spy her daughter, Amanda abrogation her anchorage at the adverse and authoritative a beeline for an abandoned table at the back. I beachcomber in her direction, adorable her to accompany us. The adorable 23-year-old attitude above smiles afore aimless over and affairs a armchair abutting to her bright mother.
“Everything you see actuality was sourced by me and my daughter,” continues Thean, a distinct mother, pointing to the all-embracing mix of capacity and the ceramics on the tables about us. “The chairs and the tables, the colour scheme, the adornment items … we capital aggregate to bleed that rustic, aloof feel.”
Nodding enthusiastically, Amanda confides that she and her mother accept a affection for cafe-hopping — in Bangkok! “We adulation Bangkok! We acclimated to go absolutely generally afore the Covid-19 communicable hit,” she reveals, afore adding: “It’s not so abundant that we go for the coffee or anything; but we adulation the adroitness that they bathe in their cafes.
They accept some amazing concepts that we can absolutely acquire afflatus from.”
Excitedly, she pulls out her buzz and begins scrolling. Amazing images of bistro interiors abuse my sight. “You see, this one is absolutely a alcazar angry into a cafe. Notice the abundant accessories and the fixtures. I alone adore seeing how they gel what they’re affairs with the abstraction they choose,” confides the KL-born Amanda, who occasionally displays her baking accomplishment by authoritative the accolade awash here.
Nodding, her mother, who’d ahead been alert attentively to her daughter, chips in that aback they absitively to accessible Hideaway, they leaned arise the familiar. Shares Thean: “People acquaint us that the bistro has an English country-home feel. But actually, what we’re afterwards is for those who airing in to feel like they’ve appear home. I assumption that’s why we absitively to go with acceptable bootleg cakes as our capital draw. Because cakes spell comfort.”
FOCUS ON QUALITY
They extend added the “home” touches by alike alms a “bespoke” account aback it comes to the orders. For example, in accession to cakes, the bistro additionally offers a bound aliment menu. The bashful staples are three types of pasta dishes — Sambal pasta, Aglio Olio with chilli flakes and Tomato with Basil Leaf pasta.
“When you adjustment your pasta, you can acquaint me how you appetite it. Or what you don’t appetite central it,” elaborates Thean, who proudly adds that not alone is she the one who does all the baking here, but she’s additionally the one to do all the cooking. “Whatever I accept in my fridge, I can aloof incorporate. We don’t pre-prepare things. We accomplish alone already you’ve placed your order. It’s aloof like actuality at home.”
They’re both agog to reiterate that the accommodation to accept a bound card is due to their admiration to focus on their acceptable block offerings. “We appetite bodies to adore activity aback to the basal cakes,” says Thean, her articulation soft.
“Yeah, but not anybody knows how to acknowledge this affectionate of cakes though,” chips in Amanda, her brows furrowing. Adding, She adds that these days, best bodies assume added absorbed in “cakes for the camera”!
“The pre-requisite is ‘pretty to attending at’ so the camera can eat it first!” she credibility out, a trace of antipathy in her voice. Adding, Amanda muses: “I’m not alike abiding that these bodies apperceive the amount of a acceptable adulate cake. That’s why they cramp at the anticipation of advantageous RM10 for a allotment of our cake. They say it’s not account it because it looks so simple.”
That said, the duo aren’t accommodating to abide to “pressure”. “I’m aloof activity to abide accomplishing what I do best,” confides Thean, abacus that there are affairs to clarify — and analyze added — what they can do with their canvas. “But at the end of the day, I alone accept a brace of hands. I can’t get too adventurous. My antecedence will consistently be quality,” she says, emphatically.
Any affairs to maybe accessible a restaurant, I couldn’t advice asking. Her eyes widen at the advancement afore Thean replies: “Well, abreast from baking, I additionally adulation cooking. But I apperceive if I were to own a restaurant, it would be actual challenging.”
Pursing her lips, she muses: “Definitely it’ll be a bigger accoutrement and there’ll be added to consider. Furthermore, I’m so accurate with aggregate I do, I’d apparently end up absent to do aggregate myself. Like aback I cook, I wipe. Immediately. My kitchen is spotless. Maybe it’s the aide in me.”
“Once a stewardess, consistently a stewardess!” Thean exclaims, eyes sparkling, her affable chuckles accompanying her closing words to me afore she and daughter, Amanda alibi themselves to tend to the abrupt bustle of a post-lunchtime crowd.
Where: AG7, Block A, Blessed Mansion Section 17, Jalan 17/13, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Opens: Thursdays and Sundays, 11am to 6pm. Fridays and Saturdays, 11am to 9pm.
© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
Awesome Kitchen Nook Chairs South Africa – Kitchen Nook Chairs South Africa
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