U CAKE is the kind of bakery everyone would love to have in their neighbourhood. A friendly little shop where you can stop by after work to pick up a Baguette (18RMB) or Whole Wheat Bread (25RMB) to go with dinner and while you’re there, why not take home a Chocolate Croissant (15RMB) or Apple Cinnamon Brioche (20RMB) to indulge your sweet tooth? The main focus is on take-away business, but they also serve tea and coffee and there are a couple of small tables for customers.
The baker, Dan Dan, started baking as a hobby, which gradually turned into a home business. Then, to learn the most she can about baking, she studied at L’Arôme French Culinary Institute in Shanghai, in the French bread program run by Christian Vabret (MOF).
Dan Dan enthusiastically showed me the ingredients in her kitchen, the artisanal wheat flour from France, D’Isigny butter from Normandy (one of the finest butters you can buy) and also a special batch of natural yeast that she original received from her French baking teacher who himself had been nurturing that yeast colony for over 20 years. Dan Dan takes special care of this natural yeast, feeding it with water and flour every so often. She says the natural yeast gives a special flavour to breads and she uses it in croissants, brioche and whole wheat bread.
The chocolate croissant had ribbons of dark chocolate running through flaky pastry with well-defined layers, but not too dry that the flakes crumble all over you. The apple cinnamon brioche had lots of cinnamon over soft buttery apples. The whole wheat bread is shaped like a cube, perfect for making toasts and sandwiches.
As for the baguette, it has a thin crispy crust, chewy interior and delicate yeasty taste. The crust is not too hard that it hurts to bite and it’s a good vehicle for sandwiches. U CAKE offers baguette making classes on Saturdays which costs 188RMB for a 4.5 hour class. Dan Dan will teach you all the steps of making baguette by hand, from kneading the dough, shaping the baguettes and even the intricacies of cutting slits before baking. After this class, you will have 2 baguettes to take home and you’ll certainly appreciate all the hard work that goes into making a baguette! The next class is Jan. 21.
U CAKE will have special items to celebrate festivals. Currently, Dan Dan is working on Galette des Rois – a traditional French dessert made with puff pastry, frangipane and orange zest which is eaten to celebrate the end of the Christmas season.
Follow their WeChat account, ucake_diary, for more details.