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"Quick Bread": Loaf "Bread" - Cake Salé

When I was still a primary school girl, a walk before or after class was always punctuated by a stop at our favourite bakery, Katong Sin Chew Cake Shop. (Photos of Katong Sin Chew Cake Shop from Camemberu). It would be impossible not to stop by. The wonderful smell of baking bread and cakes, would lure a dead from its grave. Back in those days, a simple buttercream cake would have brought a smile to any birthday kid. Not a day went by without people collecting their order of birthday cakes from them. My mom would be one of them on our birthdays.

I used to wander into the baking area pretending to look for a trash bin or linger at the doorway pretending to choose something delicious from the myriad of baked goods. There would always be decks of buns and bread on the cooling racks, rows of butter cakes in disposal aluminmum tins cooling on the shelves in the shop and a refrigerated display cabinet filled with buttercream-covered cakes and swiss rolls. In those days when money was tight, it was truely agonising to pick just one treat from the bakery a day. It almost felt like a crime to inflict such torture on a glutton like me.

Whenever I pass by bakeries these days, the sight of those butter cakes sitting in aluminmum tins would invariable remind me of the bakery. Every time when I pull a loaf tin out of my oven, I would ask myself if it is good enough to be sold at the bakery. Some times I give myself a yes, and some times not.

Today, I pulled out this from the oven.

And wondered what would the bakers at the bakery think.

I imagine the conversation will go like this:

Me: "So what do you think of this ... erm, loaf?" Looking hopeful for an approval.

Baker: "What'd ya call this?" Eyeing my loaf tin with septical eyes.

Me: "Cake Salé."

Baker: "Cake see mee (Hokkien: what)?" The creases on his forehead formed suddenly and now resembled the cross section of a lapis kueh.

Me: "Cake sal-a." Pronoucing it more slowly as my hope plummets.

Baker: "Can eat or not?"

Me: "..."

Anyway, that is just all in my imagination. I doubt any self respecting baker will entertain me at all.

Under the loaf "bread" catagory, you can either have them sweet or savoury. The banana bread I made would fall into the sweet loaf section while this Cake Salé, with all the chunky ham and cheese cubes, will be the savoury.

The first time I stumbled into this kind of baking was in a cookbook I bought from Tokyo. I had thought it was just some fancy Japanese creation until I finally made the connection when I came across the article and recipe ran by The New York Times last July. I had made this based on their recipe and found that it was quite good. But I would reckon that it is much like a muffin where anything goes once you have the basic ratio of flour, olive oil/butter and eggs nailed down.

When I unmolded it from the loaf tin, it looked more like some sort of butter cake than a loaf of bread. Pockets of cheese and studs of diced ham make nibbling through a still-warm slice a satisfying snack.


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