The first pound cake I’d tasted was a Sara Lee, and I’m pretty sure its the same for many of you. I remember having cravings for it when I was young, often picking up a loaf which was baked in tin foil from the frozen food section of a local supermarket and pestering my mum to put it into her shopping basket. This usually proved futile as the loaf mostly got sneaked back into the chiller compartment, but once in a very blue moon, my mum’s stance would soften and accede to our persistent pleads and protests and concede defeat. Then it is up for us to bicker on which flavour to bring back home. Our default choice is chocolate swirl, as we get the best of both worlds, i.e. rich buttery layers interlaced with ribbons of chocolate. A single loaf would usually last us over a couple of days, and sometimes a week if my sister and I have enough “determination” to prolong the “days of savouring pleasure”.
Over the years, we eat it less and less, probably weaned off the craving or perhaps because the spectrum of choices broaden over time. But Sara Lee pound cakes earned a special place in our hearts, being a “childhood delight” and often the central theme of several acts of child’s play, signing makeshift pacts and treaties to restrain each other from stealing bits of cake from the refrigerator without the knowledge of the other, drafted from torn out pages of school exercise books, to lil’ games like whose cake slices contained the most streaks of chocolate swirls. Totally silly and bewildering now in retrospect but its these little moments of pleasure that help fuel and formulate the most powerful memories which we cherish as time goes by.
My first encounter with Japanese-inspired western confections was a matcha cake from Sun Moulin, a boulangerie-patisserie located at the basement of Isetan Scotts. It was from an ex-student’s mother who had generously offered me to try a matcha cake from them during a lesson with her daughter many moons ago. Since then it had been no turning back. I especially love how the Japanese pastissiers attempt to infuse ingredients, culinary methodology and even ideas from Wagashi 和菓子 and even washoku 和食 into the art of pastry making. Naturally when it comes to baking, I like dabbling with the idea of incorporating Asian flavours into cakes and bakes. This roll cake is no exception.