Get Baked: How baking soothes the soul for so many in Southeast Asia

 

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With all the stir fries, spicy sambars, and simmering curries that Malaysia is famous for, baking doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. But baking is a relaxing, rewarding hobby, that’s much easier to master than you might think. It’s super easy to start simple and work your way up to more complicated confections.

There are tons of tools and technology to make baking feel like a piece of cake. You can even make savory dishes if you don’t have a big sweet tooth. Switch your usual simmered stovetop chicken rendang to a baked version in the oven.

And at the end of each baking experiment, you’ll have a yummy dessert or meal to motivate you to tackle the next recipe. Not to mention the Instagram opportunities!

Ok, shallow desire for likes aside, we’ve partnered with KENWOOD to bring you the stories of some passionate bakers around Southeast Asia to show you just how fun and easy baking really is. Read on, and get some kitchen-spiration for your next free Sunday afternoon, then head to Love Wholesome for delicious, easy recipes.

Photo: KENWOOD
Photo: KENWOOD

Baking is a way to clear your mind, and fill the kitchen with delicious smells!

Rachel, originally from KL, but pretty much a global citizen, revealed she started baking as a way to clear her mind when she was in university. “There is something very satisfying about combining a bunch of ingredients and making something — a physical, delicious something that can be eaten and shared with others.” We totally agree!

There is something very satisfying about combining a bunch of ingredients and making something” — Rachel

The best part of baking for her is the process. “I actually like savory food more, so I don’t eat much of the cakes I bake (I know, weird). Regardless of whether I am making something sweet or savoury, there is the anticipation of putting it in the oven and waiting as the house fills with the smells of baking… and the satisfaction when it comes out perfect (might even justify the cleaning up — I am a very messy cook). Not going to lie, I mentally pat myself on the back when it comes out right.”

Photo: Rachel
Photo: Rachel

Her proudest baking moment, so far, is a peanut butter chocolate cake with peanut-butter-cream-cheese frosting, covered in a chocolate peanut butter ganache. Sounds super fancy and worth getting fat over.

It was so worth the extra calories, that even the most dedicated fitness fanatics couldn’t resist a piece. “I once baked three cakes for an engagement party: peanut butter chocolate cake, a key lime tart, and an apple cinnamon cake and served all tables except one. That one table belonged to the most committed, hardcore Crossfitters, because I didn’t think they’d want a slice of it. Turned out they revolted and in the words of the generous Marie Antoinette, ‘Let them eat cake!’”

Photo: Brian
Photo: Brian

Baking cakes and bread are so rewarding, just don’t leave out one key ingredient.

One friend of Coconuts, Judy, enjoys baking cakes and pies on a regular basis from her home in Thailand. No feelings can describe the joy and sense of accomplishment every time she bakes. From start to finish, she truly loves every step of the process, except washing up — so basically like all of us on this planet. But Judy’s favorite recipes are for bread, all different types. Baking the perfect loaf of bread can be a challenge, with the shape, texture, and taste, so we can see why she’s a very proud baker.

But no matter how great a baker you may be, there’s always a funny story to tell. My oldest daughter wanted to learn to make a cake so I gave her the job of making a white cake and told her to follow the recipe exactly as printed, which she thought she did — but out came flat cake! So we got the recipe and started over again. We checked the list of ingredients only to find she had left out the flour.” You could say it was a low-carb cake. (Maybe those Crossfitters would try it?) But it was too low-carb for even their pet dog. She turned up her nose and wouldn’t even eat it.

The best part is seeing others enjoy every bite of your hard work.

Our friend Brian, a professional by day, and baker by night (a baked crusader, not caped crusader) loves taking it slow and paying attention to each detail to create the best baked goods. His favorite part of baking is making the batter. Measuring ingredients and battering all the gooey goodness keeps him energized. Then, like a typical, benevolent grandmother, he loves seeing people eat his cakes, pies and whatever treats that come out of the oven.

Although it sounds easy, his most satisfying baked creation is a banana caramel cake — moist, sweet and with a slightly burnt scent from the caramel, it’s the perfect companion for tea time.

But like every baker has experienced, sometimes things don’t turn out as planned.I prepared everything from scratch — from mixing all the ingredients, beating and preparing to put the batter in the oven. I pre-heated the oven and everything was going as smooth as the batter I’d made. The only thing left was baking. Simple, right? My mistake was leaving a friend to watch the oven while I went out eating. I came back, hoping it’ll look fantastic. Well…no, it was a shrunken baby cake — from a 2 pounder to a half-pound cake.” Brian learned a valuable lesson that day: make sure you manage your baking from start to finish yourself.

Baking has the same effect as meditation and mindful practices.

Believe it or not, Coconauts, there’s an explanation why these enthusiasts are enthralled by the experience of baking. According to Donna Pincus, Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University, baking is a form of self-expression, which acts as a relief to people’s wellbeing. In addition, baking has the same effect as meditation and being mindful, resulting in increased happiness and reduced stress. A win-win situation, right? Bakers find peace in baking, and they spread joy by sharing those yummy confections with their loved ones. This might be one of the most feel-good science discoveries in recent history.

“Baking is a form of self-expression, which acts as a relief to people’s wellbeing the same effect as meditation and being mindful, resulting in increased happiness and reduced stress.”

Photo: Brian
Photo: Brian

So where should baking beginners start?

There’s a misconception that baking is too hard to even attempt, not to mention that post-bake mess to clean up after. (It’s really not that bad, guys!) Here’s some advice for beginners from our most passionate baking buddies.

For Rachel, it’s all about using what you have at home. “For me, muffins or cupcakes are something easy to start with, plus you can experiment with a variety of ingredients. Whatever you have in the house, you can throw them in – Maltesers, pears, salted caramel (most definitely), and even spinach. The upside of these is how easily quick you can make, in this case, bake.”

“Muffins or cupcakes are something easy to start with” — Rachel

Judy is a big brownie advocate, and we’re not gonna disagree. “Brownies. How easy? Grandchildren-easy. If my grandchildren can manage to bake brownies, then it’s definitely doable. And who doesn’t like chocolate, especially when they’re turned into soft-baked brownies? (You can easily find microwave-baked brownies on the internet).”

“Who doesn’t like chocolate, especially when they’re turned into soft-baked brownies?” — Judy

Brian recommends banana cake. “What can go wrong with the simple recipe? The earthy sweet flavor of banana — sure, not everyone loves bananas but when they are mashed up and baked in the soft dough? That’s an automatic yes.”

Photo: KENWOOD
Photo: KENWOOD

For fuss-free baking that’s actually incredibly fun, try KENWOOD appliances.

There’s a way to keep things simple in the kitchen, even if you’re whipping up your famous chocolate ganache. With the right kitchen tools, even the biggest baking newbie can make a scrumptious cake. Introducing (drum roll, please) KENWOOD’s hardworking kitchen mixer, which comes in Chef, Chef XL Sense, and Titanium versions. Wondering what’s so great about them? We’ll tell you!

Just something to keep in mind, the tool is designed to make our baking experience as easy as cracking eggs. The mixer includes features like mixer beating, dough hook (aka the dough kneader), cream beater, all with different speed controls. In case you got a large crowd to please, the mixer is capable of holding 6.7L — that’s about 4.5 kg of cake. Hope you have enough guests to devour all that cake!

“The mixer includes features like mixer beating, dough hook (aka the dough kneader), cream beater, all with different speed controls.”

Photo: KENWOOD
Photo: KENWOOD

When you think about it, the KENWOOD mixer is so handy  — mixing ingredients, kneading the dough, whipping up cream — that you might need to appoint it as your sous chef! You can also remove parts to clean it pretty easily too, so don’t worry about that mess.

Fill your stomach with healthy, wholesome, and stress-free baking recipes, and learn the simple and fun ways of baking that anyone (literally) can get enjoy at Love Wholesome.

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