Have Your Cake and Eat It

Healthy organic cakes and desserts that vegans, diabetics, lactose and wheat intolerant foodies can savour

Issue: Mar 2011

Delcie Desserts and Cakes
Individual servings of organic cupcakes help to prevent over-eating while satisfying the sweet tooth

Organic, egg-free, diary-free, sugar-free, guilt-free - no doubt, it takes commitment and creativity to come up with sweet treats that fulfill all that and still tastes as good. But that’s precisely what Delcie Lam, Managing Director of Delcie's Desserts and Cakes in Singapore has promised and delivered with panache.

Of course Lam’s foray into the world of baked goods was less than stellar. The very first time she tried baking, the result was not ideal. She was 12 and had won a cake mixer at a local community centre’s lucky draw. Armed with a recipe straight from a book, she decided to bake a butter cake.

“The middle didn’t get cooked,” recalls the 26-year old.

Mud fudge cake
Chocolate lovers need not give up on their favourite deserts with this organic mud fudge cake that also comes in a sugar-free option

Undeterred, Lam continued baking. Over the years, through trial and error and with tips from food and nutrition classes in school, she honed her baking skills. She became so good at it that she would bake fruit cakes for family and friends at Christmas and pineapple tarts during the Chinese New Year.

“I like baking because baking requires precision and for a systematic person like me, it’s easier than cooking,” says Lam.

So when poor health forced her to take a break from being an art director in advertising, she decided to combine her childhood dream of running her own business and her passion for baking together to create Delcie’s Desserts and Cakes.

Organic creations
Organic creations can still look and taste as good as the real thing but without the health and calorie issues

Going All-out For Health

But healthy dessert options were not on her menu right from the start. Beginning with a shared shop space in Bishan just once a week, Lam’s first dessert offering was cheese mousse in multiple flavours. Then a series of events led to a change in menu.

In April 2009, her mother died from stomach and intestine cancer. She had survived breast cancer before. But within three months of diagnosis this time around, she succumbed to the illness.

“It was a shock to us because we thought she could beat the cancer this time as well,” recalls Lam. “When she died, I became convinced of the importance of healthy eating because I was quite sure her cancer had something to do with what she ate as well. Food can either be your medicine or your poison.” So Lam decided to switch to making organic cakes.

Cosmo Mango Cake
This calcium-enriched Cosmo Mango cake comes with fresh honey mangoes and diary-free mango mousse between organic wholemeal, eggless vanilla sponge

Ingenious Ingredients, Deliciously Results

As far as possible, Lam uses organic ingredients: organic raw sugar, organic unbleached wholemeal flour, organic unbleached flour, organic 70 percent dark chocolate, organic applesauce and organic sea salt.

“I tell my customers that the cakes are 85 per cent organic because some things you can’t get organic versions of, like durians,” explains Lam.

Apart from being earth-friendly because organic products are produced with less emission of noxious chemicals that are harmful to earth and air, organic goods are also better for the body. But going organic is not without its costs.

“Organic ingredients can be as much as 300 per cent to 400 per cent higher in price than regular ingredients,” says Lam. “So it’s a challenge to try to keep costs competitive.”

But Lam’s desserts are so delightful, cost was no issue to her customers. In fact, they kept returning for more and with increasingly demanding requests. Soon, they were asking for sugar-free options for their diabetic loved ones.

“I was already using a lot less sugar in my cakes and desserts, as much as 50 percent less. But going sugar-free was a new challenge,” claims Lam.

After much research, Lam finally settled on organic agave imported from Europe, a natural sweetener in syrup form extracted from the wild agave plant. Another few months then went to experimenting with the ingredient.

“Sugar is a dry ingredient. Agave is liquid. I had to try out the balance between wet and dry ingredients to get the mix just right,” says Lam.

Along the way, other requests surfaced. Those allergic to wheat or on special diets started asking for glutten-free cakes. Flour is a key ingredient in cakes. Going flourless has its limitations.

“Flour gives cake a light, fluffy texture. Flourless cakes are possible but not all types of cakes can have a flourless version. Light, chiffon cakes, for example can’t be made without flour,” explains Lam.

In February 2010, Lam’s creations also went diary-free and egg-free.

“My boyfriend is Hindu and he challenged me to go vegetarian once a week. I thought if I was doing without eggs and diary, then my products should reflect my choice as well,” says Lam.

Now, Lam uses non-diary whipping cream from Japan for the frosting and organic brown rice milk to replace diary ingredients and organic applesauce, trans-fat free grape seed oil and canola oil as binding agents in place of eggs.

Customised Cake Design
Creativity need not be sacrificed with healthy options

Imaginative Menu, Wide Repertoire

While going organic, sugar-free, glutten-free, diary-free, and egg-free have some limitations (macaroons and meringues which are made from egg whites are not possible), Lam is determined not to let any of it curb her imagination.

Her menu is as varied as they come – black forest, strawberry shortcake, durian, mango, banana, chocolate. She offers them in birthday cakes, in dainty cups as cupcakes and as teacakes. She also has special treats for festive occasions: mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival, fruit cakes and cookies for Christmas, pineapple tarts and almond cookies for the Chinese New Year – all done in her usual healthy style.

So, the next time you have a desire to satisfy your sweet tooth, you now know you can do it without guilt.

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