Baker's dream come true

Sometimes, baking dreams do come true.

Full-time mother Jane Tan, who has a passion for baking, started by making sweet treats for friends and family.

In August last year, the 32-year-old beat three other finalists to win the first SCS Star Baker Challenge, a baking competition organised by the home-grown butter brand.

She won a trip to Australia and a trophy with a Swiss roll filled with strawberries and cream.

She started out making jelly heart strawberry cheesecakes when she was 18.

To chase her baking dream, she quit her job in human resources in 2010 and moved to Sydney in 2011 with her finance-executive husband Jonathan Lam, 35, who did a master's in applied finance at Macquarie University.

There, she took a diploma in patisserie at renowned baking institute Le Cordon Bleu.

As a student volunteer, she took part in Sydney's World Chef Showcase 2011 - a gathering of international chefs doing cooking demonstrations - and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Australian chefs Matt Moran, Luke Nguyen and Adriano Zumbo.

Besides working as a cafe waitress, she jumped at the opportunity to work for a year with Australian cake designer Faye Cahill, who is renowned for her pictureperfect wedding cakes with intricate designs.

She gave Ms Tan a one-month trial before offering her a job as a cake decorator.

On the experience, Ms Tan says: "I was working for 16 hours during Christmas, but I wasn't tired. I wanted to learn and train as much as possible."

She and her husband returned to Singapore in November 2012 as she was expecting her daughter Charlotte Faith, who is now two.

Apart from baking, she also cooks daily and picks up recipes from YouTube channels.

Spurred by her win in the baking competition, she recently set up a commercial kitchen in the Lavender Road area and started an online business called Naked Cakes, selling plain cakes as "blank canvases" for people to decorate.

Ironically, it is cake decorating that she is passionate about, and she continues to make these cakes for friends.

But she also understands that making fondant cakes is time-consuming, especially for working mothers.

She says: "Cake decorating is my passion, but it may not work well as a business. I chose to sell plain cakes so mums can buy the cakes to decorate with their children. It saves them the time and hassle of baking the cake from scratch."

To hone her skills in 3-D fondant decoration, she is attending a part-time sculpting course at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

She says: "The course is very technical and extremely useful. Now I can do wine bottles and even dinosaur heads."

Among all the fancy 3-D cakes she has made, she speaks most fondly of the balletthemed cake for her daughter's first birthday. It was pretty-in-pink and had a wind-up musical box as the cake-topper.

She says: "I love caramel, white chocolate and all things pink. It's very me."

This article was first published on January 11, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.