As many of us already know, Asia is home to many amazing baked creations. From Vietnam’s Bánh Chuối Nướng (baked banana bread) to Japan’s Daifuku (mochi) treats, we have seen and may have even tasted some of these delectable desserts during our trips there.
However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, traveling is highly discouraged as it could lead to the further spread of the virus.
Given this, a lot of people have taken to baking their own versions of these desserts at home. Some have even mastered its baking techniques, while others still have a long way to go before mastering their craft. And whether you’re the former or the latter, there’s one place online that you can connect with and converse with other bakers about your love for Asian-inspired treats–and that’s through Subtle Asian Baking.
Subtle Asian Baking is an online community on Facebook that allows bakers from all over the world to share, discuss, and even recommend their favorite Asian-inspired creations and recipes.
And in this article, I got the chance to talk to the founder Kat Lieu and the rest of the Subtle Asian Baking team on what makes the Facebook group special, the inspiration behind its creation, and what message can they share to aspiring bakers about their online community.
Here’s what I learned from the interview:
It’s a community of like-minded bakers who support and encourage each other
In the Subtle Asian Baking Facebook group, members are encouraged to share their latest Asian-inspired creations without fear or judgment.
“What makes the group special is when people can show off their amazing desserts and bakes, and feel appreciated. [And] when people ask a question, they receive a flood of helpful answers [from other members],” Subtle Asian Baking founder Kat Lieu explained.
It is an avenue where bakers can freely express themselves and even help inspire a sense of creativity in other members who see the posts.
Lieu herself admits to exploring other baking ideas after seeing other people’s creations in the group–“[In terms of] creativity, I find myself becoming more and more creative and innovative with my own baking.”
More than just a platform for sharing one’s creations, it is also a community that engages with its members through virtual bake-offs and online contests. In fact, just last month, they held a charity mukbang for the benefit of the Alzheimer Society of Canada. And as of December 2, 2020, they were able to raise 4,002.50 CAD (approximately 150,611.93 PHP) for the non-profit organization. They were also able to surprise members of the group and participants with a number of special guest appearances.
“Our mukbang fundraiser was very special. Three CEOs from the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, and the Alzheimer Society of Ontario joined us in [the] eating [contest]. We [also] had a special guest eating with us, Fred Chang, a contestant from MasterChef US Season 10. A rising mukbang duo made a special appearance during the Zoom livestream [as well],” Lieu shared.
These online events were created to both give back to the community and entertain its members.
“We want to be different. We also want to give back to the community. [Since] many people are stuck at home now, the Internet has become our world. [There,] we can build a community with virtual bake-offs and we can give back through fun fundraising activities.”
At the moment, the team has prepared two bake-offs for December. The first of which is in partnership with Suncore Foods and is a competition for junior bakers between the ages of 4 to 15 years old. While the second one is a holiday bake-off that features guest judges Catherine Zhang, the Zumbo’s Just Desserts season 2 champion, and Fred Chang, season 10 finalist of the hit show MasterChef US.
Members can stay tuned for more announcements on this through their Facebook page and group, or through their Instagram account.
A recent trip to Japan inspired Kat Lieu to create the group
The group was created back in May of this year by Kat Lieu. She was inspired to form Subtle Asian Baking after reminiscing about the baked creations she got to try during her recent trip to Japan.
“COVID-19 was spreading fast and things were closing down. I was thinking about my trip to Japan back in February 2020, and I couldn’t find a group I liked dedicated to Asian sweets, particularly subtle Asian sweets. So, I created the group in [the] hopes [that] I can bring together a large baking community and curate recipes and beautiful pictures of Asian-inspired desserts,” Lieu expounded.
“Many of us can’t travel [now], but we can reflect fondly about desserts we love, desserts from our culture, and the baked goodies we had while traveling across Asia and so forth.”
To her surprise though, the group quickly grew since its creation, now amassing over 66,000 members from all over the world.
Today, the group is handled by Lieu and the Subtle Asian Baking team, which comprises the following: Owen Li, an IT professional and the team’s very own “air-frying ninja”; Will Leung, a bakery owner in New Zealand; George Lee, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained cook and rising star in the vegan culinary world; and Nichole Tan, a Singapore-based sweets expert.
A message to aspiring bakers: ‘Just start baking!’
Starting a new hobby can be hard but the Subtle Asian Baking team believes that practice makes perfect. And they continue to encourage aspiring bakers to express themselves and try new things, with a little help and inspiration from their Facebook group.
“Just start baking! It doesn’t matter if you use cake mix or bake from scratch, just make it and bake it! And please join our group! We are inclusive and [we] welcome all bakers, dessert makers, or dessert enthusiasts of all skill levels. We also welcome savory baking recipes and pictures!” the team said.
To join Subtle Asian Baking, click their Facebook group here and request to be a member. Once approved, you can start posting your creations, joining their online contests, and start conversing with like-minded bakers.
Happy baking, everyone!