Ms B's BLOG
A privileged upbringing that offered immense exposure to the fine art of cooking, entertaining on a grand scale and gracious hospitality shaped Bonnae Gokson's destiny as the inimitable style icon and lifestyle diva of Hong Kong today. Her experience in luxury fashion honed from her time spent as the right-hand woman of fashion doyenne sister Joyce Ma, later crafting the image of CHANEL in the Asia Pacific region, and her constant immersion in the latest global lifestyle and food trends sharpened her innate creativity. This she gives full reign to in her foray to the hospitality industry, from the critically acclaimed hotspot SEVVA, to the most delectable bespoke Ms B's CAKERY, and recently the hip neighbourhood café-bar C’est La B. Needless to say, they are all as immaculately stylish and cosmopolitan as their founder.
The Founder of Ms B's CAKERY Reveals The Secrets to Her Success
It's incredible how time flies! Ms B's CAKERY is a year old to date and it seems like only yesterday we iced our first cake and baked our inaugural pie.
Have you wondered ever why our cake tastes better than the norm? I could easily write about the new delights of the dining scene but since I get so many people asking me about my cakery, I thought I might as well share some of our best-kept secrets.
With fashion as a starting point, I apply my visual sense to combining and finishing the cakes. There is just that fine line I never want to cross with over-decorating cakes where the cake itself is just some sweetened dough out of a cupcake mix. That's why our decorative sugar art that we apply on our cakes are beautiful, yet simple to pull out so one can really enjoy the cake itself.
So secrets begin with our own blend of cake base. Every city is different with their weather and water. For our humid weather in Hong Kong, we have to tweak the recipes a bit. We blend our own cake base, combining wheat, corn and rice flours. For our pie crusts, we incorporate different grains to add texture and flavour. Our favourites are flax seeds, white and black sesame seeds, oatmeal and a variety of wholesome nuts. Apart from good French butter, we often use olive oil and sesame oil as well. Having never been to a French patisserie school, my approach to baking is my very own. This has worked for me as I'm not boxed in by rules and formulas. Certainly we've had a few flops, but isn't this part of the learning curve?
"Simply the best", would be my mantra for the ingredients used at the cakery. We go as meticulous as chopping kilos of beetroot to extract the juice to make our red velvet cakes instead of artificial colour mixes, as well as using quality butter and fresh cream from the best resources. I am glad mango season is in. So, what's such a big deal about mangoes? Our secret is that our artisan mango jam is made farm to table. Quality mangoes which are picked during the season are made to ripen fully. Then they are carefully watched and stirred over for five hours in a large cauldron with hardly any sugar until they become a thick and golden jam. Talk about slow food! You need about 15 kilos of perfect mangoes to make just 3 kilos of this precious "gold". You'll notice the difference with commercial mango jams, most will use inferior grades of fruit and are overloaded with sugar and additives. So together with fresh mangoes, combining our precious mango jam that "yumminess" is the secret for the split minute of pleasure with all our mango recipes.
Often, I am asked which is my favourite cake. Certainly, one of them has to be Paradise. Did you think it was just made with purple food colouring? We use the best natural purple taro and blend to our base mix and in fact, it is known to have the highest antioxidants and vitamins. Another treasured ingredient that we use is the rare species of coconut called macupuno from the Philippines. I have always been taught by my family how to differentiate between what is good and what is great. And this has been my education in life which I find so intriguing. Out of hundreds of trees of the coconut plant, you can only find a mutant species very unlike the regular coconut. The inside from this odd coconut has extra thick, juicy and tender "flesh". Our supply of this rare macapuno is cooked in home kitchens for us with the least amount of sugar. What one can easily find is the common fake "macupuno" which is hard and rougher and commercially made with loads of sugar and preservatives. With global warming and floods around the world, it's getting harder and harder to find the real macapuno. I dread the day that we will have to announce that we are cancelling Paradise because of this reason. And, no, I will not substitute for anything less by offering cheap and inferior ingredients to our clients just to earn a dollar.
Death by Chocolate? A good chocolate cake is defined by the same quality of the chocolate used, obviously to the individual taste of the eater, some like it dark and intense and some may choose it milder. My friend in Paris who was the right hand to Madame Lenotre, the famous bakery-cafe-bistro-caterer with stores all around the world taught me her secret: mix in five types of chocolates from different origins and percentages of cocoa and blend together, It has been a true winner ever since.
What others call slow foods these days are what I have been shown and taught throughout my life. Taking this road may not be the most profitable as it's so highly labour intensive with all this work at our cakery but as they say, success does not come easy, so let them eat cake!