Ever since I was young, it’s always been a dream of mine to become a professional patissier and open my own little bakery. When I joined the work force a few years ago, I started attending baking lessons, and bought many expensive baking tools and appliances for my kitchen. My passion was great, but sadly, my skills were not…
When I first started, I took baking lessons at the community centre. My sister Dora* joined me then. Dora also had an interest in baking, although not as much as me. But she had a knack for it and was quick to pick up all the tips the instructor taught us. Plus, she was precise in measuring the ingredients and was also very creative, so all her cakes and pastries turned out both delicious and pretty.
My baking results, on the other hand, were mostly dismal. As much as I tried, my cakes were tasteless. The pastries usually fell flat, instead of rising to become fluffy and crispy like those made by French bakers. Once I made chocolate eclairs, and when we did a class tasting, I could see from everyone’s faces that mine did not please anyone at all.
All my classmates were very encouraging, especially Dora, who helped me a lot. I was determined to improve. After the course ended, Dora stopped lessons, but I continued to take them. Eventually, I signed up with a professional baking school and had been with four different schools since for the past three years. But I never got better… I kept telling myself I would and Dora encouraged me so I persevered.
One day, I organised a tea session for some friends and exclassmates at home. I loved planning for these as I could put my skills to the test and it gave me a chance to get feedback. But many times, they did not go well as my bakes turned out bad.
During that particular session, I woke up really early to make canapes and a strawberry shortcake. It was one big disaster. I was upset and panicking, trying to salvage what I could, when Dora came into the kitchen. Seeing what had happened, she calmed me down and started to help me. I was a wreck and could not do much, so Dora made everything from scratch. I was so grateful, as she whipped up a fine spread before my guests arrived.
I thanked Dora, who had to leave for a movie then, and went about prettying up everything. When my friends came and sat down for tea, I could see they were all very impressed. Everyone started congratulating me and praised me on how much I had improved. I was basking in all the compliments and did not admit that it was my sister who baked the sweets.
From that day onwards, I enlisted my sister’s help each time to bake for my tea sessions, and would always pass off the efforts as mine. My sister did not mind as she’s rather nonchalant about baking. To her, these treats were just something to make and eat. But to me, baking creations were something to be proud of.
I even posted pictures up on Facebook and Instagram to show off my cakes, and have garnered a rising number of followers and fans. Deep down I know that these are not truthfully my creations, but I feel so proud and happy each time someone hits “Like” or leaves compliments for me. I cannot bear to give up that feeling.
While I continue passing off Dora’s bakes as my own, I have been secretly trying to improve my skills by taking private lessons and learning as much as I can from YouTube. I hope to one day be able to be as good as Dora, so I can rightfully make everyone smile when they taste my creations. But right now, I just have to continue to be a fake baker to keep up appearances.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.
This story was originally published in the October 2015 issue of Singapore Women’s Weekly.