SHAH ALAM, March 30 — I never understood why folks bother to slice croissants open other than to reveal the honeycomb pockets within. I mean just one tentative bite would reveal the layers of laminated dough and rich butter, right?
That is until you discover Cake Jalan Tiung’s Pandan & Gula Melaka Croissant, with its flaky exterior and airy interior suffused with fragrant pandan and not-too-sweet gula Melaka. What a magical blend of French viennoiserie with Malaysian flavours!
Such beauty needs to be seen to be believed.
Located in Seksyen 4, Shah Alam, Cake Jalan Tiung is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Hidzad Bin Lahuree, 42, and Nur Shafinaz Binti Abdul Rahman, 38. The couple had both worked in the banking industry for 10 years when they had the idea to launch their own bakery.
Hidzad recalls, “Cake Jalan Tiung began forming around 2014 when the grind of the corporate ladder started wearing us out. It was in 2015 when we took the plunge to start the business full-time.”
The name came from a desire to project an image (and ambition) that was bigger than they were at the time.
Nur Shafinaz says, “We live on Jalan Tiung in Shah Alam so we feel that ‘Cake Jalan Tiung’ has a muhibbah element to it. The name was also inspired by our visit to Tiong Bahru Bakery in Singapore and their use of location and language in their name.”
The founders of Cake Jalan Tiung: Nur Shafinaz Binti Abdul Rahman and Hidzad Bin Lahuree.
Location — or to use fancy French terminology, terroir — certainly influenced their Pandan & Gula Melaka Croissant, a new favourite of their customers. They even grew the pandan used for the croissant themselves in a small garden in front of their shop. (It doesn’t get any more local than that!)
“When adding a particular flavour, in this case it is the pandan, into the dough, it changes the elasticity, hydration and behaviour of the dough,” says Hidzad. “So we had to play around with the amount of liquid to make it consistent with our classic croissant dough. We want to make sure that the pandan flavour and colour comes through as it needs to compliment and not compete with the taste of butter.”
As a result, the duo had to use a larger amount of pandan leaves, blend them and allow the mixture to sit for a few hours to extract a more intense flavour.
Nur Shafinaz adds, “Shaping the croissant is also tricky since the gula Melaka filling melts under the hot temperature during baking so we had to get creative with shaping the croissant. We also tested with a few brands of gula Melaka to get the best results.”
From proofing to baking, every croissant is handled with loving care.
This fastidious approach governs many of Cake Jalan Tiung’s processes. The business began as a part-time endeavour at home after working hours, where customers would pre-order cakes a few days ahead and pick up the cakes at their home.
Therefore the couple would spend any free time they had in the early days to plan their budget, searching for ways to raise the money, designing the bakery and developing a menu.
Today, from proofing to baking, every croissant is handled with loving care. Besides croissants, the busy bakery also produces a delectable variety of other pastries, cakes, breads, cookies and cupcakes.
“Neither of us have a culinary education nor worked in a commercial kitchen before,” Hidzad admits. “This has actually helped when developing our recipes as we are not tied down to any particular traditional method. Our guiding light is that we bake cakes and pastries that have a rustic elegance, which is our trademark style, and the flavours are clean and there is a play of textures.”
The busy bakery produces a delectable variety of pastries, cakes, breads, cookies and cupcakes.
And what has a better play of textures than flaky, airy croissants? The couple had always loved pastries and were inspired by places like Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne and Brasserie Viron in Tokyo.
Nur Shafinaz says, “So in 2020 we bought a sheeter and started baking our own croissants. This was also around the same time we felt there was an increasing interest locally for well made pastries and meanwhile the interest in cakes seemed to have cooled down.”
The Covid-19 pandemic and slower economy also caused a significant shift in customer behaviour and interest in food, Hidzad observes.
He adds, “Customers seem to be cutting down on less essential things and after-meal baked goods and desserts seems to be one of those things. We noticed breakfast meals were doing very well at cafés we visited last year, so again we adjusted with the times and introduced a breakfast menu in the beginning of 2023.”
Fortunately, the couple had a small space available at the shop where they installed a small kitchen which now produces a curated breakfast menu of sourdough bread slices, Japanese-style scrambled eggs, house-cured salmon, artisanal sausages and pastries.
Crunchy beef ‘dendeng’ croquettes, perfect for sharing when ‘berbuka puasa.’
Nur Shafinaz says, “The response to the breakfast menu and us opening earlier at 8am has been overwhelmingly positive. Besides changing trends, the cost of ingredients has kept increasing. In our minds, the ever increasing price of butter seems comparable to gold nowadays!”
To keep the business sustainable, Cake Jalan Tiung has had to adapt; they are now open daily 8am to 7pm, except on Thursdays when they are closed.
Hidzad explains, “We still want our bakers and front service team to have a good work-life balance and continue to maintain a five-day work week for everyone. The team themselves created the shift roster for this.”
Given it’s now Ramadan, the shop’s hours have temporarily changed to 3pm-11:30pm to accommodate the fasting month. To mark this blessed period, they have also introduced a new Ramadan menu for berbuka puasa (available from 7pm until 11pm).
Go bananas with baby pancakes and ‘lempeng pisang’!
Nur Shafinaz shares, “It is based on the idea of many small plate items for sharing. There will be things like lempeng pisang, beef dendeng croquettes, and a few more surprises. We are also working on a special project with Paper & Print, a cool lifestyle store and local designer, to produce tiffin-style Raya cookies.”
Such collaborations have helped improve the visibility of this little Shah Alam bakery that could. Other projects have included bringing their signature baked goods to Penang for a pop-up as well as supplying pastries to Afloat Coffee Roaster for their Volume 3 pastry showcase.
Hidzad says, “We worked closely with Afloat Coffee Roaster to produce several baked goods items exclusively for them — Feta Fig Danish, Black Sesame Burnt Cheesecake and pain au chocolat — for a period of one month. Partnering for limited run items is something we look forward to as it allows us and our collaborators to get really creative.”
Cake Jalan Tiung’s ‘pain au chocolat’ getting a decadent drizzle of chocolate ganache.
The pain au chocolat in question is certainly in a league of its own. Beyond a plain croissant with a chocolate baton hidden inside, Cake Jalan Tiung’s version is enveloped with a flaky chocolate pastry shell then drizzled liberally with decadent chocolate ganache.
If you ask the duo, they would relish how “It is over the top!” Yet the pastry is yet another way Cake Jalan Tiung is simply more and that is a fine thing indeed.
Cake Jalan Tiung
No. 9, Jalan Sukun 4/7, Seksyen 4, Shah Alam
Ramadan hours: Open daily (except Thu closed) 3pm-11:30pm
Standard hours: Open Mon-Fri (except Thu closed) 11am – 6pm; Sat & Sun 10am – 6pm
To order: visit heylink.me/cakejalantiung/ or WhatsApp 012-8787258.
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