HOUSE OF THE WEEKmore
The cupcake has landed
(Volume 26, No. 514)
The humble cupcake, long the preserve of home baking and school cooking classes, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years, spawning trendy shop franchises in cities as diverse as New York and Amman. And now, to the sweet-toothed delight of Yangon’s sugar hungry denizens, the cupcake has landed here too.
Sydney’s Baked Goods, which was operating from the home of its owner Nhat Phuong Tran for one year, has now opened a small boutique shop on the first floor at the Myanmar Women’s Entrepreneurs Association (MWEA) tower at 288 Shwe Dagon Pagoda Road.
“The business has just kept growing, there’s lots of demand here in Myanmar for sweets,” said Ms Tran, “but nothing will really change that much now that we’ve moved out of our home. We’ll still bake everything to order, and it will still taste the same, like it was home-baked.”
Ms Tran, who is Vietnamese Australian, moved to Yangon three years ago with her Myanmar husband and their daughter Sydney. They opened up a business that supplies, builds and maintains swimming pools, but Ms Tran soon grew to miss the baked goods she’d eaten in Australia where her parents owned and managed a bakery, in which she would often lend a hand. In Yangon she started to bake, at first just for herself and then for her friends who were so impressed they started to order her treats, propelling a small venture into a profitable business spread on word of mouth (or perhaps word of taste) alone.
“My parents didn’t actually have cupcakes at their bakery,” says Ms Tran with a smile, “well, they did have one kind: vanilla ones with sprinkles on top, but all of the recipes are new except for the carrot cake one, which is inspired by my father’s carrot cake recipe.”
The new, more equipped location, which has a little café for tastings, will still operate primarily on advance orders by appointment. Currently, Ms Tran is also selling her baked goods through Sharky’s III Restaurant, which opened last year and Monsoon Restaurant, a favourite among expatriates and tourists. Monsoon has launched a high-tea menu that includes her brownies, scones, tarts, and, of course, cupcakes.
“People like cupcakes because they’re small, easy, no mess, and you can eat them with your hands. Black sesame is actually one of my favourites,” says Ms Tran although the shop offers 14 flavours in total, including pass-ion fruit, straw-berry shortcake and chocolate peanut butter.
“We source our ingredients locally as much as we can, and take advantage of the stuff that’s available fresh seasonally, like passion fruit and strawberries,” she says, “however, what we can’t get we import; the Dutch processed cocoa is from Thailand, the butter from New Zealand, and the sea salt is imported as well. We use Belgian chocolate — so we really try hard to use the highest quality ingredients.”