Sharing the joys of being a home baker
This 24-year-old values sharing his knowledge and spreading cheer through his bakes over gaining profits.
Despite being a full-time biological sciences student in Nanyang Technological University (NTU), 24-year-old Javier Tan tutors and bakes in his free time, even running his own baking blog Bakeomaniac.
“I found a love for baking. Especially when I share food with others and share the knowledge behind the process,” said Javier, who currently has a following of over 13,000 on his baking Instagram account.
At the age of 15, Javier’s love for baking was first sparked when his parents bought him an oven. He and his older sister decided to give baking a try and the rest was history.
Javier originally learnt how to bake through YouTube videos and library books. From there, he started experimenting and making his own recipes.
Some of his bakes were created according to what his friends and family liked eating, or using leftover ingredients and snacks from festivities like Chinese New Year.
But the process of turning this baking hobby into something more was unintentional.
Javier originally posted his own baking recipes on his Instagram page dedicated to his bakes for fun. People started finding his account and following it. Then one day, one of his proudest recipes for pandan hot milk cake went viral.
He said: “Overnight, I got 100 new followers, and things started going crazy!”
With no promotional material — simply posting and using hashtags — it was almost as if fate called Javier into taking baking to the next level.
He shared: “I created my blog four years ago when I was in NS (National Service)… it helps me keep track of my recipes, but most importantly it’s about bringing a community together. I’ve been sharing recipes, baking tips, and my life journey and process with baking through this website.”
With so much on his plate (pun unintended), it’s a wonder how Javier manages his time.
Majoring in biological sciences and minoring in communications, Javier has lectures to attend, tests to study for, and assignments to complete.
After classes, he then gives math and science tuition to secondary and junior college students. On days where he has no students to tutor, he uses his extra time to either ideate for future baking ideas or exercise off the weight gained from consuming his own bakes.
On top of all that, he has to afford the time to do some actual baking.
Javier said: “A few months ago, I was interning full-time while tutoring secondary school kids and running bakeomaniac.com. It was very stressful but it’s all about putting in the time and effort to make things happen. You have to plan your time wisely but sometimes I can’t even afford time to bake.
“A lot of people have the perception that baking takes a lot of time. But thankfully, when you’re more or less familiar with it, you don’t really need that much time for simpler recipes.”
Although his passion for baking may seem rather different from the course he is studying in university, Javier really enjoys sciences and communications, thinking of it as a more stable career path.
However, he likes baking more as a hobby and has reservations about turning it into a full-time career, possibly going into it only after retirement.
“To me, baking is a craft. It’s like a piece of artwork and putting a price on it is not something that I would want to do. Most of the bakes that come out of my kitchen are given as gifts, or sold very close to their cost price. 99 per cent of my recipes are given out for free,” Javier stated.
As Javier picked up baking from free YouTube videos and library books, he wants to give his acquired skills back to society by sharing his knowledge with amateurs and new bakers.
He is perfectly content with people using his recipes and helping fellow bakers improve their skills in the process. And the people he meets along the way makes it all the more worthwhile.
Javier remarked: “Making people happy through my bakes motivates me! Not everything is transactional… There are some things money can’t buy such as customers checking in on me during my studies, donating their baking supplies to me, and sending me back gifts in thanks.
“I believe more in sharing and giving knowledge back to the community. People receiving and liking my bakes and recipes… Now that is truly priceless.”