Smoked sugar, caramel nights. The sweet life, this life chronicled by baking and breakfast, is my odyssey. I am enamoured by, made restless by all things sweet. Sweet to stitch the wounds of life, sweet to heal.
Hi there! I’m Alex.
Hailing from Singapore, currently living in the heart of London. Ultimately, I want to share my passion for all things baking and breakfast, with a myriad of recipes that weave simplicity and experimental flavours into classic themes. As an advocate for the ethical, physiological and environmental effects of plant-based wellness and nutrition, I hope my plant-based creations, both nourishing and indulgent, can create change in your kitchen, too.
I was 5. The warm croissant left flakes in the creases of my palm, the smell enclosing me in a bubble of warmth in the grey Autumn sleet. This was my first encounter with a baked good, a toddler in London, and what probably kick-started my love and passion for baking and all things sweet.
Fast forward to mid-2017, when I experienced a very stark change of perception and attitude towards food. I discovered veganism after publishing my first book, my baby, Crumbs in November 2016. Some thought I lost it. Isolation. Selfishness. Weird. Unnecessary. These are their reasons. My reasons, which encompass scientific, personal, ethical and environmental, are in the FAQ below. I have never, and can’t, look back. All my recipes are now crafted to be vegan with modifications for non-vegans. There’s no sacrificing fun or flavour here. Going vegan has only made me, funnily enough, more of a foodie than ever, opening me up to countless creative ideas and inspiration. It is such crazy delicious abundance. Touching this horizon is truly enlightening.
This blog is dedicated to sharing recipes I have experimented with in my humble abode, adapted and played with from countless resources. It’s kind of an extension of my documenting habits; I have kept a personal diary for almost 11 years and don’t plan to stop!
And some other random things!
- I have a weird collection of vintage knick knacks.
- ‘Manouevre’ is that one word I always forget how to spell.
- I live for anything black, striped or burgundy.
- Nutrition, writing, books, food photography and yoga comprise my main guilty pleasures.
- French toast is my favourite breakfast food ever.
So, bread. I’ll start with the smaller picture first. What sets a crumb apart is how it has been separated from the main picture (in this context the whole loaf of bread) in its perfect and golden entirety. It’s out of left field, off the pristine sidewalk. A zoom into all angles. Detail. To me, bread is bemusing, bewitching, honest. It forms the centrepiece of most of my sacred breakfast rituals. Most of my mornings start with toast, tahini and jam. The blog’s title is hence a tribute to its humble rusticity.
But you can’t be a food lover if you’re vegan!!
To clarify, I am vegan, but flexible in different social contexts (hence I do prefer the term ‘plant-based’). As a Singaporean, it is incredibly hard and perceived as downright rude to be this way 100% of the time. Being in London is much more flexible, with vegan options abound, and communal eating less of a sacred tradition.
I used to loathe the label ‘vegetarian’.I remember making fun of my sister when she tried going vegetarian once long ago. And ‘veganism’? Someone pass me a shoe to knock some sense into the sandal-wearing dreadlock-bearing weirdo. but veganism is not about kale and coconut oil. It’s a radical shift in perception and mindset– of what your food is and where it all comes from. Personally, it’s what makes sense in the 21st century. With nutrition comes many a fad, and that’s exactly what I initially thought regarding veganism, too. Just a fad. Unsustainable. Selfish. Isolating. But the current literature surrounding health, food, the environment and disease is undeniable. We are living in an age of total disconnection. We buy electric cars but gorge on meat, which to me does not make the least bit of sense. And ‘ethical’ killing? you could argue that’s the same as ‘humanely killing’. That, once again, doesn’t make sense.
So I decided to cut those strings of disconnection. On a more personal note, this lifestyle has bestowed me with such great mental and physical benefits that it simply does not make sense for me to turn back. Here are some sources which have contributed to this mental shift, do feel free to check out the links!
I think the least we can do is be aware. That’s all it is. Awareness. And logic, and sense. Clicking is caring.
Has veganism changed the quality of your baking or enjoyment of food?
Absolutely not! And this is coming from a serious foodie who would dine alone 7 miles away just to try the best French toast, or scribble scorching reviews religiously on solo food trips. Plant-based options, as surprising or unbelievable as it may sound, are in abundance. It’s the most delicious food out there. And there’s a vegetarian or vegan option for any type of food you can think of, so if any craving does hit, you’re never short of options.
It is incredibly easy and surprisingly cost-efficient to bake as a vegan if you know what to buy and how to manipulate the stock in your pantry. A vegan brownie or cake can be just as light, sweet and fluffy as any of its normal counterparts.
Why do you blog about sweet stuff like cake and brownies?
What you see on this blog is definitely not what I gorge myself on. To me, breakfast and dessert is more of something people take time out to do, like a special occasion. I feel as if people nowadays are overly automated, too quick to respond, too slow when it comes to carving out time for therapeutic activities, like baking a cake or making a nutritious, albeit luxurious breakfast.
I do promote a plant-based approach to eating, hence all recipes (starting Nov 2016) can be veganised, but I also advocate some sense of balance and slowing down. Many fads are totally unjustified, but a slice of cake doesn’t have to mean a slice of diabetes. It doesn’t have to be the enemy, a little devilish inflammation-inducing fireball dressed up in glazed strawberries and cream. No. A slice of cake can mean peace with yourself, peace with the world, armed with the knowledge that you’re properly nourishing yourself the rest of the day anyway.
You have a small head.
That’s not a question.
Do you sell your bakes?
Absolutely! Simply email me at email@example.com and I’ll reply with the cost details. I will try my best to deliver within a few days, and of course this also depends on whether I am in London or Singapore at any point in time.
It would have to be almost-burnt toast, or French toast. Without an ounce of a doubt. Pancakes or good old-fashioned oats take second place. I’m the one who always orders the ‘sweet’ option at a café or restaurant.
After french toast, vegetables are my main love. I gorge myself on fruits and vegetables almost on a daily basis. I go ga-ga over broccoli and sweet potato (yeah).
How do you edit your pictures?
I alternate between my iPhone 6 and Fujifilm x100s, and edit my iPhone shots using the VSCO and Snapseed apps. Some would claim this system fails to accurately portray colour and texture, but I am enamoured by the vintage, autumnal vibe a certain filter gives any food shot, so that is why I choose to use them.
I am also honest with what I have to say about a particular recipe or place, so I won’t put it up unless I am certain of the reliability of ratios, the stunning ambience of a café and so forth. Food photography and styling is most definitely my guilty pleasure, though I am by no means a professional snapper.
What measuring system do you use?
I favour metric measurements, using grams instead of cups and so forth. I find it much easier and more reliable to simply zero the scales and work from there, leaving it to measure the tiniest fraction of an ounce. I no longer worry about the ‘flatness’ of the surface of a half cup of flour.