KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 — Butter and water, flour and eggs. It’s strange how such simple ingredients can be combined — with care and craft — to produce such airy and elegant pastries such as choux.
With their iconic craquelin or crackly sugar topping, these are exemplary choux pastry.
Filled with luxurious creams made with homemade hazelnut paste and Madagascar vanilla, Japanese matcha and French dark chocolate, it can be a trial to decide which one to have first.
These delectable treats are the creations of Pǐn 品 — a home-based business by married couple Evelyn Chung and Bryan Lau, both 29.
By focusing on choux pastry, Pǐn 品 sets itself apart from a growing number of amateur pâtissiers in Klang Valley.
Luxurious creams made with ingredients such as homemade hazelnut paste, Madagascar vanilla and French dark chocolate.
Of course it helps that Chung had graduated in culinary management. Lau, who works in biomass trading and logistics, shares: “Evelyn worked at Black Star Pastry and with pastry chef Christy Tania during her time in Australia. When she returned to Malaysia, it was as a head pastry chef for Crème de la Crème.”
By combining their strengths, the couple has launched a post-pandemic food business where customers are accustomed to ordering online and having perishable food items delivered.
But it is still first and foremost a passion project for the duo. Lau says, “We strongly believe in making it possible for everyone to savour and enjoy fine and premium desserts that are pleasing to the eye and delightful for the taste buds.”
To that end, they named their business Pǐn 品 which means “product” in Mandarin. Lau explains, “Pǐn 品 is a product of creativity, a product of commitment, a product of happiness and a product of love. In a nutshell, Pǐn 品 is ‘Desserts made with love, delivered to your doorstep.’”
The couple pride themselves in making their custard and various creams from scratch. Lau says, “Our custard is made using real egg yolks instead of instant custard mix. We make our own hazelnut paste and dehydrate pandan leaves to make our pandan flavour.”
Pǐn 品 is the passion project of married couple Evelyn Chung and Bryan Lau.
Using premium ingredients is another way Pǐn 品 hopes to stand out from a saturated pastry market, from only using Madagascar vanilla to sourcing French 63 per cent dark chocolate by Weiss, a 140-year-old chocolatier based in Saint-Etienne.
Still, it can be tough to sustain a business on choux pastry alone. Therefore P?n ? also makes cakes such as a delicate Vanilla Cake with Lemon Buttercream and Passion Fruit Curd, as well as a more decadent Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache.
Lau adds, “We also have rustic cakes like Carrot Cake and a Chocolate Banana Walnut Loaf for those who prefer something hearty.”
Another favourite of regular customers are their roulades — rolled meringues, flavoured with chocolate or matcha, that are filled with mascarpone cream and fruits such as mango, strawberries or passion fruit.
It’s quite a lot to handle and the happy couple has also recently expanded their little family too.
Vanilla Cake with Lemon Buttercream and Passionfruit Curd (left). Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache (right).
Lau shares, “This year we welcomed a newborn baby boy and had to find a new way of working. The key thing is that Evelyn and I can complement each other pretty well during these times. Instead of letting the business consume our marriage life, we are able to understand each other better and leverage on our strength to overcome challenges.”
Some of these challenges, typical for new businesses, include creating brand awareness, creating a new customer base, and creating digital content for social media — “all in our humble home as we had to pivot into a makeshift central kitchen in 2021.”
Which means the choux that customers enjoy — paired, for instance, with freshly brewed filter coffee for an exquisite teatime at home — is the product of more than just baking but a lot more work behind the scenes.
“Starting a business is never an easy task,” says Lau. “However, we are thankful for our loyal customers and orders from cafés such as Niko Neko and Oh Apong that helped create a sustainable revenue for the business.”
As such, it’s no surprise that the couple strongly believe in the strength of collaboration. Lau adds, “We had the opportunity to work with local businesses such as Gerson Batik & Tofu Design in creating a special product during the Mooncake Festival in the past two years.”
An exquisite teatime pairing: choux pairs perfectly with filter coffee.
Pǐn 品 is currently in the planning stages of moving into a central kitchen in 2024. Lau sums up their journey as newbie entrepreneurs: “There is so much more for us to learn in this field of F&B, and we are expecting to grow the team and the business as we progress with time.”
Butter and water, flour and eggs. Simple ingredients, which when combined with passion and purpose, yields a product one could be proud of and grow a strong business with.
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