Poh Ling Yeow
Last time we spoke to Poh Ling Yeow, she was on the verge of launching the second series of her television show, Poh & Co., and had just opened her café, Jamface. This time, we’re catching up with her to talk about her baking book, Poh Bakes 100 Greats.
TV presenter, cook, baker, author, artist, café owner – a better cover star for our diversity issue would have been tough to find!
Not many people know Poh as a baker, a point she makes in the introduction to her book. But, in actual fact, it was her first great cooking love. So, this book was a long time coming.
“I’m really excited about it because I feel like it’s a book I would have written first if I’d had my own way,” she explains. “But everyone knew me for my South-East Asian food, so I had to buy a bit of time and come out as a baker before I could effectively sell a book about baking!”
Poh ‘came out’ by opening Jamface, her café in Adelaide’s Central Market at the end of 2015. While Jamface offers other eats, the main attractions are Poh’s great passion – cakes and pastries made from scratch on site.
Poh’s love of baking started when she was a child, she explains. “I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen much as a kid, but baking was one thing I was allowed to do because my mum and great aunty Kim deemed it safe.”
Poh’s mum, Christina, was also a great source of inspiration. “I grew up watching my mum bake madly all through my childhood,” she recalls.
For Christina, home economics was the highlight of her school days, and when they arrived in Australia, she took to baking with gusto.
One of the things Christina really instilled in her daughter is the power of persistence.
“If she doesn’t get something right,” Poh says, “she’ll just make it every day for five days in a row until she perfects it. I have definitely inherited that obsessiveness to get things right.”
While many authentic Malaysian desserts are fried, steamed or frozen, baked treats are common too. One that Poh was particularly fond of growing up was pineapple tarts, the recipe for which features in her book.
“They’re a really popular little Malaysian snack with really short crust pastry and a super caramelised jam on top,” she describes.
Another of her childhood favourites in the book is coconut love letters. “They always remind me of Chinese New Year. They’re actually really easy to make, with a similar texture to tuille, but a lovely coconutty flavour,” Poh says.
The legend of these treats is that young Peranakan women, who weren’t allowed to meet their loves unattended, would write love letters, hide them inside folded biscuits, and throw them over the wall to their boyfriends.
For more recipes and the full story with Poh, pickup a copy of Selector from all good newsagents, subscribe or look inside your next Wine Selectors delivery.
OUT NOW: Poh bakes 100 Greats by Poh Ling Yeow, RRP $39.99.