Entrepreneur

She Left Her 10-Year Engineering Job To Bake At Home, Her Recipes Now Inspire Even Pros

Autumn Baking Diary started in 2013 as a way for Chiew See to chronicle her bakes and baking experiments. She started baking 10 years ago after quitting her demanding job in mechanical engineering to care for her family.

“My engineering work required a lot of on-site work and travelling, which was hard to juggle with my children,” she said.

“I started cooking at home and wanted to feed the family clean, wholesome food without additives. Baking became a natural progression.”

Completely a self-taught baker, Chiew See hasn’t attended any formal training courses in baking and mainly gleans inspiration from social media feeds, YouTube videos, and recipe books.

Letting the dough rise

After starting Autumn Baking Diary, she began getting questions about her baking.

“I realised that there were many home-bakers out there with similar problems, so I wanted to share my findings and experiences. As a self-taught baker, I understand how frustrating it is when one encounters repeated failures.”

The engagement that Autumn Baking Diary began getting further encouraged her to share her bakes, helping other home-bakers minimise and eliminate any failures or errors in their baking.

Chiew See doesn’t stick to the same old recipes, switching it up often and expanding her baking repertoire.

“I have to keep the family interested with a variety,” she told us. Her current repertoire includes cakes, cookies, pastries and bread, especially of the sourdough kind.

As she continues her baking experiments, she tries to use only natural ingredients with no artificial additives or preservatives in her bakes.

A personal touch

One of her speciality bakes is her home-baked sourdough, made by the fermentation of dough using naturally-occurring lactobacilli and yeast.

From sourdough doughnuts to sourdough cinnamon rolls and cardamom brioche buns, she’s experimented and succeeded in injecting various flavours into them as well.

Image Credit: Autumn Baking Diary

However, sourdough bread isn’t easy to make, according to Chiew See.

“Sourdough presents a challenge to many bakers as it is less consistent and there is more dough feel and judgement involved,” she said.

She encourages making your own sourdough at home because she feels that home-made sourdough is healthier than those sold commercially.

When asked which of her baked goods she would recommend people try making, she replied that her country sourdough and her tsunami ogura cakes are extremely popular.

Her tsunami ogura cakes come with vibrant shades of blue streaked into the natural light beige of the batter to replicate tsunami waves.

Image Credit: Autumn Baking Diary

Recipes for some of her bakes including her experiments and findings can be found on Autumn Baking Diary’s Facebook page.

“Over the years many bakers have asked for the recipes, so it is easier to just share the recipes on the page,” she reasoned.

She presents them along with photos to further attract interest in her goods and show proof of her recipes being achievable.

By doing so, she hopes more people are inspired to try her bakes at home.

Because the reception of Autumn Baking Diary’s recipes has been so positive, Chiew See struggles with a high volume of questions asked in private and publicly.

“As every baker is working in a different environment and with different equipment, results can vary. Troubleshooting is the key area that I get contacted on,” she shared.

A never-ending learning process

“As an ex-engineer, I have a tendency to test my bakes repeatedly until I get the version I am happy with.”

“In fact baking is engineering, baking is a science,” Chiew See said.

Her 10-year engineering background has helped her understand the why’s and how’s of the baking process, from ingredients to problem-solving.

When she receives questions from her followers about baking, she views them as a learning opportunity for both parties.

“When I troubleshoot, I feel that it increases my own understanding of the process.”

To her, cultivating this ecosystem of baking and sharing is healthy as everyone can benefit from each other. It also allows her to meet different people from all walks of life.

“I have managed to reach many bakers who contributed to my learning path along the way, both local and in the region.”

Through the bakers she’s met online, she’s been exposed to different trends from other countries and unique ingredients that may not be available locally.

Making her mark

Image Credit: Autumn Baking Diary

Her biggest accomplishment to date was when her video about her lamination technique on sourdough went viral and was copied by many bakers.

The sourdough lamination technique is meant to increase the strength of the dough and improve the overall dough structure.

“To this day, I’m surprised when I see bakers from Chicago to Russia using the technique and crediting me for it.”

What started out as a home-baking journal for Chiew See has gone places she never could have foreseen.

With over 7,000 followers on Facebook and almost 25,000 followers on Instagram, she’s realised how valued her recipes and experiments are.

At the moment, Chiew See doesn’t monetise Autumn Baking Diary as her current schedule doesn’t permit her to pursue anything ambitious.

However, she hopes to one day operate her own bakery to offer a platform for home-bakers to gather and plans to continue sharing her results with the world for now.

To aspiring bakers, she advised, “Be persistent and hold onto your passion. Nothing is impossible.”

  • Find out more about Autumn Baking Diary here.

Featured Image Credit: Autumn Baking Diary

 

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