Batik and Baker’s pastries merge European and Malaysian flavors

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Batik Cake and Black Forest Bakery. Credit: Batik and Baker

Discerning pastry lovers are interested in Oakland’s pop-up Batik and Baker, which sells regularly in its monthly box of European and Malaysian influenced baked goods. Founder and baker Audrey Tang fuses chops from her cooking school with influences from her childhood in Penang, Malaysia. The result is a rotating monthly menu of seasonal goodies that balances familiar and unexpected flavors.

Tang’s pastry influences reflect the deep well of local pastry talent. At San Francisco Cooking School, she studied under chef Nicole Plue. Stays with the best pastry chefs at Craftsman and Wolves, Cotogna, Quince and Mister Jiu’s have also shaped his baking values ​​and opinions.

“It was tough,” Tang said of working in fancy kitchens. “I’m not going ahead. It was hard. The stress was incredible – the level of expectations.

She loved the speed and adrenaline required for the job, but the lifestyle drained her and took a toll on her personal relationships. She began to wonder if the world of fine baking was where she needed to direct her skills and energy, and ended up returning to her job in tech when a former employer came over to call her. She never stopped cooking, however.

Batik and Baker’s kouign-amann is delicately scented with Kaya. Credit: Batik and Baker

“The thing is, [if you bake,] you never leave the pastry shop. Tang said. She started selling her baked goods in 2020 to help raise funds for restaurants and food service workers, starting with a payout model you want with income going to World Central Kitchen, the Sustaining Fund. from Chef Jose Andres for restaurants and catering staff. She quickly discovered that she loved making the pastry boxes. “People were given treats and the money went to what was important to me and to help people.”

In December 2020, after taking a break from attending bake sales and fundraisers, Tang reviewed his goals, assessing how to keep cooking, but on his own terms – not as a restaurant or as a bakery. of brick and mortar. She started by choosing a name, Batik and Baker, inspired by her maternal grandmother, who was “a Nyonya, of Peranakan origin, and always wore a batik sarong wrapped up to her ankle.” Batik is a type of fabric that Indonesian and Malaysian women of this ethnicity traditionally wore all the time.

The Peranakans are Chinese immigrants who settled in Malaysia in the 15th and 17th centuries, mingling with the Malays and Javanese of the region. The culture and cuisine of this region reflects the blend of Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai influences.

Each box of Batik and Baker pastry echoes this spirit of cultural fusion, with each of the box’s four to five treats inspired by Tang’s travels and culinary experiences. Last month’s pastry box, for example, contained a lilikoi (passion fruit) coconut pie. It’s Tang’s take on a Chinese bakery classic, the coconut pie, reflecting his love for tangy flavors, citrus, and island vacations.

Tang enjoys introducing people to the flavors and ingredients of Malaysia and Southeast Asia that may not be widely known in the Bay Area. Previous pastry boxes have featured offerings like kaya-flavored kouign-amann, lapcheong gougères, and spicy and sweet-and-salty white sesame. Another box contained white and black pepper snaps inspired by Tang’s favorite cookie found at a bakery in Penang, and another contained marten cookies filled with pineapple jam made from scratch, which are the version of Tang tarts with pineapple jam or nastar, a new Malaysian treat of the year.

Audrey Tang blue marbled seri Muka kuih. Credit: Batik and Baker

One type of Sweet Tang included in his pastry box menu is his version of Malay kuih. Sweet, bite-sized snacks typically made with rice or sticky rice, kuih frequently feature flavors such as coconut, pandan, coconut cream, and palm sugar. Tang’s seri muka kuih has a sticky rice layer on the bottom and a pandan flavored top layer. Visually, the glutinous rice base layer of Malaysian kuih is often mottled in an indigo blue color reflecting the incorporation of the butterfly pea flower.

According to Tang, the Indonesian versions (often spelled “kueh”) generally do not have a color in the base. “People really like it [the kuih]. I love that people get excited about something that isn’t popular, famous, or widely known here. I want to do more of this.

Tang’s creative process involves tapping into his love for Malaysian and Southeast Asian sweets and European-style pastries, often fusing the two together. For example, when she knew she wanted to bake a pandan cake, she first thought about what else the pandan had come up with. She thought of cendol – a Southeast Asian shaved frozen dessert with palm sugar, coconut milk, kidney beans and green pandan jelly. “This inspired a pandan layered cake with coconut cream and palm sugar streaked through. I thought, ‘Will people get it?’ People loved it and understood.

Batik and Baker’s Vietnamese Coffee Cake is one of his most popular items. Credit: Batik and Baker

Since she started selling her baked goods, one of her most popular items has been her Vietnamese coffee cake, with airy coffee sponge cake, with condensed milk buttercream and espresso paint. outside to reproduce the visual of a Vietnamese cafe. Cake is often available by the slice or whole for order / pick up at Magnolia Mart in Oakland.

Ultimately, Tang said, she wants Batik and Baker to be “a space for expression, a space for creativity and curiosity.” And she also wants it to be delicious, fun, and a little bit ambitious, saying “every piece that I pull out and share with you is something I would be proud to give to you.”

The October menu, featuring fall flavors like Black Kat Plum and Ginger Kouign-Amann, will be available on the Batik and Baker Instagram account. @batikandbaker and website by October 3 for delivery / pickup on October 16. Orders end October 10 or when boxes are sold out.


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