Tea is art in Japan, with a long history of refined enjoyment, and a variety of rich, nuanced and delicate tastes. Come learn more about them!
Although not an Asian invention, since bread and cakes were introduced—first via ancient trade routes, then wide-spread during the colonial era—Asians have ‘modified’ and arguably improved baking to suit their tastes and flavours. Because Asian cultures traditionally view pastries as comforting snacks (think Bao, Dango and Kuih), Asian baking often makes buns and cakes softer, fluffier and sweeter than their European ‘cousins’; using all kinds of flour, local ingredients, as well as reinvented methods.
From household kitchens and street markets to modernised bakeries and cafés, these Asian baked goods have delighted and satisfied generations and become popular everyday indulgences.
Here are 8 of our handpicked faves!
Mantou buns are one of the oldest Chinese pastries, enjoyed since flour was made available during ancient times. Steamed rather than baked, this simple wheat bun is soft, bouncy, pleasing to chew with a mild sweet aftertaste. Mostly savoured for breakfast or afternoon tea, but also sometimes as a banquet appetizer. Try our special recipe with a sweet potato flavour!
Sausage buns are like ‘upgraded’ hotdogs. But instead of regular bread, Asian-style sausage buns are made with special Tangzhong dough (which you can easily make at home), baked to wrap the sausage into a full-flavoured pastry. Extra fluffy, savoury and deeply umami. Although the recipe probably originated from Hongkong, this style of sausage bun is also a street market favourite in Malaysia. Yummy breakfast or snack for any time of the day.
‘Pan’ means bread in Japanese, and Melon Pan is one of the most beloved sweet buns. Baked with enriched dough and covered in a thin layer of crispy crust. Without any melons, however. Legend has it that the bun was first made during the Meiji Era when oriental melons were popular. The bun’s grid-line shape and colour resembled the melons, and so the Melon Pan was named. Crispy, tender, and sweet!
Soft crust and feathery texture, this white bread is the ‘standard’ served in Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese coffee shops (Kopitiam). The tenderness and relatively neutral flavour make it perfect to savour with half-boiled eggs, butter and kaya spread and a good cup of hot coffee, milk tea or hot cocoa. A delicious breakfast set with all the goodness!
Buns aren’t the only flavoured bread in Asia, there’s also this fruity and delicious loaf that blends the natural sweetness of banana and the rich smoky flavour of palm sugar with soft bread. Awesome to enjoy on its own. Simple to make, too! Don’t have palm sugar? Brown sugar tastes great as well.
Cream cheese with whipped egg whites makes Japanese cheesecake extra fluffy and deeply umami, without the usual hard-crust. Satisfying to savour fresh from the oven or cold. Make yours with our recipe!
Pineapple Roll Cake
Tender, bouncy roll cake, with a fruity sour-sweet filling that melts in your mouth. This rich-flavoured cake is all-the-rage over the Malaysian and Indonesian markets. Other filling ingredients may include pandan, coconut and whipped cream.
The Indonesian layered cake or Kek Lapis is one of its kind. Folded with multiple layers of tasty batter and baked into a firm yet tender cake – it’s actually considered a ‘luxury’ cake in Southeast Asia because of its meticulous technique. Buttery, sweet, and pleasing to chew, the unforgettable flavour is well worth the effort if you’re looking for a true baking challenge. Have a go with our special recipe, and enjoy a satisfying treat like no other.