Tag Archives: Pastry

Charins Chang, The Explorer of Textures

Charins Chang’s passion for science and baking brought her to Indonesia after many years living abroad. In no time, she has captured the hearts of many through her well-crafted cakes and desserts. What are her hopes and struggles living the dream in Jakarta? Here, Charins shared the story for everyone.  

What got you into baking in the first place?

I started baking since high school and that’s because Betty Crocker’s brownie mix. I was amazed even with the process of just mixing the powder with water and then it becomes a cake. But the reason why I love baking is because it is so closely related with science and all about the chemical reactions! You don’t really see it with your eyes but it’s happening.

Did you study at a cooking school after that?

Interestingly, I went to Australia not to learn more about baking, but I was studying Biotechnology for five years there. After graduation, I moved back to Singapore and started working in the petroleum bioengineering industry. However, I never lose my love for baking. I did it almost every night and shared the cakes with my friends, to the point that my family became so sick of my baking! (she laughs)

That’s why I started my cake business online on charins.com and then after a year, I finally decided to study more properly about pastry. I did a bit of school in France and an internship with a champion pastry chef there. I was immersing myself with the language and the countryside, steering away from Paris. After that, it’s time to move to Jakarta.

What made you move to Jakarta instead of Singapore?

My parents have always been very supportive with my plans and when I told them that I want to move back here, everyone came along! We all still visit Singapore from time to time though.

Why Jakarta? I think it’s because the people are more chilled and fun here. There’s also something charming about the city, despite of course – the traffic. I saw also a high demand for quality desserts and pastries in Jakarta, but you could only find a handful of good pastry shops here a few years ago when I came. That’s the opportunity that I had been looking for.

What happens next?

Originally, the reason why I moved back was to open my own dessert shop here. After a few years though, it’s easier said than done. I don’t want to just jump in recklessly and struggling unnecessarily just because I needed more experience in the industry. So, I decided to just take my time exploring the city and looking for opportunities. I keep my Instagram active and the online cake shop helps me get by.

From there, turns out that I received a lot of opportunities for consulting, creating menu, and for supplying. There’s even this café from Myanmar which was asking to collaborate. Benedict and Heavenly Sweet found me also on Instagram.

Care to share us a bit about your dessert creations?

When I first joined Benedict, I revamped the whole dessert menu. That time, there was this hype for the Thai mango desserts, and I decided to jump in by creating my own interpretations. Surprisingly, the Mango Sticky Rice Tart was a huge success and people started posting about it.

I also created a sister dessert for it called Tart Ketan Item – with coconut and black sticky rice. It’s basically a twist of our traditional dessert of bubur ketan hitam. There’s also Marie Regal Cake because yes, everyone loves Marie Regal!

I also started making bite-sized desserts like bonbons since people are not always wanting to eat a whole cake. In each bonbon, I created a whole dessert that can consists of elements found in cakes, crunch, cookies, and ganache. I put also many things like potato chips, wajik, nastaar, and talam. For my creations, I just love doing my own formulations instead of copying recipes.

Why bonbons by the way?

I’m more interested in chocolate because it’s very science-y and no one’s making bonbons seriously yet as far as I know. I suppose it’s because the high level of difficulty to mass produce it. Bonbons must be made carefully because it won’t be good otherwise. You need to temper chocolate to a certain degree, or the fat crystals won’t crystallize properly so it won’t get the good snap. It’ll be pasty, thick, and won’t have good texture.

But I think the challenge is that most people may find it hard to understand why it costs the same as buying a whole chocolate bar instead. That’s why I’m trying to find the middle ground here to still maintain the quality but also creating time efficiency.

Lastly, what are you plans next?

Opening my own shop, that’s for sure! But for now, I enjoy teaching at Heavenly Sweet every month. I have own classes and I also create my own syllabus based on science! We do one-on-one series about sponge cake, butter cake, pound cake, or only egg whites. We explore why each recipe is made different, why adding this and that yield different results, or how to decrease the sugar content without compromising texture. It’s not about the usual recipe sharing class and for you to bake at home. It’s about how to make the student think more about the process and how to remake recipe in their own version. Other than that, I am also sharing my expertise about baking with less fortunate kids. We are creating these baking classes for them and showing that everyone can bake. We want to let them know that they have options in this industry for their future.


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UNION Café, Ready to Take on The New Terrain

Much to everyone’s excitement, UNION Café was recently unveiled as the latest entry from The Union Group – the big family that shapes the F&B scene of Jakarta for years now.

Known for the endless innovations when it comes to various dining concepts, UNION Café in a way differentiates itself with the siblings. Emulating the success of UNION as the group’s flagship restaurant is already a challenge, but to leave its own mark of distinction to curious Jakartan diners would be an admirable feat.

Within just few weeks of their opening since before Eid this year, the establishment has already become the talk of the town. The welcoming atmosphere, the circular shape of the café, and the alluring display of bakery would entice even UNION’s most seasoned patron. Once inside, it’s all about comfort and privacy – albeit pretty much the whole Senayan City can see the hustle and bustle of the café.

The distinctive features came mostly from the menu and perhaps this is the first time in the history of UNION that we have Indonesian-inspired dishes more than ever. The inspirations for the menu was either creatively driven or derived from personal experiences of chef proprietor Adhika Maxi and his wife Karen Carlotta. The result is an exciting lineup worth every penny to indulge.

From the starters, UNION Café boasts the collection of Indonesian snacks such as the prawn and chicken tahu isi with daun jeruk, singkong fries “soto flavor”, scallop bakwan jagung, and bakwan fishcakes. Alternatively, you can choose international flavors such as the lemongrass tuna tataki with tempeh crumbs or the calamari with San Marzano tomatoes and tartar sauce.

Heading to the pasta section, the Indonesian flavors can be seen right away from the appearance of crispy teri aglio olio spaghetti and the crispy chicken penne with sambal matah. The latter shows UNION Café’s new commitment for bolder taste. It’s not just about the depth of flavors and the sophistication of the dish, but also the level of spiciness. This would be a new height that perhaps only a few internationally-themed restaurants in Jakarta would be brave enough to climb.

Heading to the main course, one certainly must play along with UNION Café’s signatures. For example; the Indo Spiced Steak with cabe rawit confit, colorful vegetables, and rice would be a great substitute for your usual Steak Frites. Other than that, the café offers the appetizing nasi bebek garing on garlic rice and served with 2 kinds of sambal. Not stopping on those, we have all the goodness from slow cooked short ribs with tamarind sauce, nasi goreng kepiting, and seafood mie goreng.

Heading straight to the desserts – a specialty that has contributed so much for UNION’s success, is also not short of surprises. Firstly, we have the es teler ice cream bolu roll, and pisang coklat with cinnamon sugar and burnt caramel ice cream. The rich display of cakes and pastry would be great for takeaways as well.

With this, one would be curious enough to see with what UNION Café in particular, would conjure again in the future with its potentials. As they say, UNION made is well made, and certainly we’d be looking forward to more exciting things coming from the group and its other ventures.

UNION CAFE
Lower Ground Floor, Senayan City,
Jl. Asia Afrika No.19, Jakarta
Phone: +6221 7278 1145
www.unionjkt.com


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NAMELAKA, A Refined Pâtisserie at Its Best

One among many creations at Namelaka. (Pic: Passion Magazine)

Passion meets Yoan Tjahjadi and Ivan Setyawan, co-owners of the rising star pastry shop Namelaka at Shophaus Menteng. They share a story about their humble beginnings and how in just less than two years, they are ready to take the pastry world of Jakarta by storm.

One decade is all that we need to assimilate ourselves within the global culinary culture. It was quiet on all fronts back when I started writing and observing about Jakarta’s food scenes back in 2009. And now, we can see it clearly that everyone is contributing a part to further embolden our local food culture – from a writer and up to restaurant owners, from starting out in a long chain of hospitality industry and up to become an accomplished chef. This also includes the appearance of food start-ups, influencers, and other aspirations.

Everyone is always inspired with something and that’s the drive needed to gain the foothold in this so-called journey of life. That’s the case for both Yoan and Ivan as well.

Pastry has always been a thing for Yoan, who started it all from zero. She did it first by learning about cookery in general from a short course in Jakarta, while also at the same time finishing her graphic design study. Meanwhile Ivan was already on his way studying about cookery and accounting. Long story short, they met at William Angliss Institute back in Melbourne – each in pursue of their aspirations within the food industry.

Graduated, they both returned to Indonesia and promised themselves that they should leave a mark in this world somehow. Namelaka was then established in 2016, starting humbly as an online pastry business and joining food bazaars around Jakarta.

“One time there was an offer from Shophaus to open up our first store here”, Yoan says. Both were excited about the opportunity, but they realized it was all about renewing their own commitments for the business. A decision that they must face sooner or later.

Thus, December 2016 was historical for Namelaka as finally Yoan and Ivan agreed to commit themselves wholeheartedly into the business now. The production flow has been set to full motion now and all their resources were assigned to make that happen.

But what’s the difference between Namelaka and the rest of the competition, I ask them. “Number one, we don’t follow what’s trending out there. Our products are simply based on the flavors that we personally like and we try to be creative with that”, she explains.

Ivan quickly gives example, “Back when I was in college, I used to really love this hazelnut coffee from Starbucks and that inspired us to create the Coffee Caramel Hazelnut cake”. “Or in my instance”, says Yoan cheerfully, “the Honey Lemon Ginger Tart which was based on a flavored beverage I really like!”

Their signature product now is the choux pastry with a wide variety of unique flavors such as the Thai milk tea, salted caramel, mango lassi, and many more. Other than that, Namelaka prides itself with their collection of cakes; namely the Intense Chocolate, Earl Berries, and the Noisette. Each boasts its luscious look and a curious blend of quality ingredients.

Last Ramadan, they paid homage to the holy month with their unique creation of Nastart – a combination of the much loved nastar with homemade pineapple jam, compote, and almond crumble on a pie base. Additionally, they were busy producing the all-time favorite hampers for Eid.

Business may run well for Namelaka so far, but they do not stay idle. I ask them what they are planning after this. “Rather than focusing on opening new shops, we want to focus on increasing our capacity. We are planning to relocate our central kitchen to a bigger place”, explain them both. They hope to increase their efficiency when responding for more online orders specifically.

With their current pace and their commitment to quality from this tender age, it’s safe to assume that we will see more of Namelaka from time to time. It would be exciting to see what other creations they will come up with in the future and how the crowd would react to that. As for me, I have found a new sanctuary within the verdant Menteng area. And that is to sip a good old cup of coffee here and a slice of cake from this patisserie.

NAMELAKA
Menteng Shophaus, Lantai 1
Jl. Teuku Cik Ditiro No. 36, Jakarta


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