Home-Based Baking Business Thrives During Circuit Breaker; Goes Brick and Mortar

Claudia Tan/TheHomeGround Asia
Claudia Tan/TheHomeGround Asia

The Backstory

“I’ve always had a passion for baking and cooking, it’s just that academics always got in the way.” Thanks to the Circuit Breaker, Charmaine Hui, was finally able to realise her dream of opening a cafe that sells her handmade baked goods.

“I [initially] came back to Singapore for Chinese New Year, but I ended up being here for 10 months because of the Circuit Breaker, so I thought, I’ve graduated, and I don’t really wanna just sit at home and watch K-dramas, so I thought that I would just bake. Another reason was because my dog passed away in March in Hong Kong, and I couldn’t send her off; I wanted to do something to distract myself.”

The idea of starting her home baking business came from her friends and relatives — recipients of her baked goods. “I baked so much, because of the time we were at home, so I had to share them with my friends and relatives. They were the ones that encouraged me to start a home baking business.”

Before long, business began to boom. “The response was really great. I was quite overwhelmed because I never thought that people would be so supportive. After a while I thought, you know what? I can’t manage this on my own anymore.”

Needing more people to help with expanding her thriving business, she enlisted the help of her family friend, Xuan Xin, to share the load of opening the business. “I took a barista course to gain some knowledge about coffee beans, and how to operate a manual coffee machine, and I went to learn latte art as well,” she says.

The cafe

Bakeaholic is located in the heart of Sembawang, at The Brooks II, a newly built residential area. Although the location may not be the easiest to find, that doesn’t stop fans of Charmaine’s baked goods from travelling down to try out the cafe’s offerings.

Claudia Tan/TheHomeGround Asia
Claudia Tan/TheHomeGround Asia

Although her business has expanded considerably, Charmaine is still in charge of the baking process and ensures that all the items are of a high quality before she brings them out onto the display counter. “All our bakes don’t contain preservatives with as little sugar added as possible, and they’re made fresh every day.”

Claudia Tan/TheHomeGround Asia

When asked about the origins of her creations, she says that most of the baked goods are based off what she and her family enjoy, as well as inspiration from her travels. “I’ve been to many places, and I’ve also had a lot of great food, so I like to modify and make it my own. There isn’t like a recipe that I follow online [per se]. It takes time, experience and a lot of taste testing, a lot of research and development to get things done.”

Claudia Tan/TheHomeGround Asia

When THG visited Bakeaholic, we tried a small sample of what they had to offer at that time, which included their Sea Salt Dark Chocolate brookies, which are sold at $12 for a small bag (65g), and $23 for a large bag (145g), as well as their banana walnut loaf, which goes for $3.50 per slice and $34 for the entire loaf. Both items are made without the use of preservatives, and ingredients that are sourced by Charmaine herself.

Claudia Tan/TheHomeGround Asia

The banana walnut loaf was soft and moist, with just the right amount of both flavours that complemented each other.

However, the item that stood out was the Sea Salt Dark Chocolate brookies, which is what one could describe as the perfect marriage between a brownie and a cookie — very slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The amount of dark chocolate used is also just right, not too sweet, and also nicely balanced with the sea salt flavour.

As for the beverages, Xuan Xin shared that one of Bakeaholic’s specialties is their matcha, which contains mulberry properties that are anti-oxidant, help to improve blood circulation, and burn fat — all without compromising on the familiar taste of matcha that everyone loves. The matcha drinks are available in a few variations — the good ol’ iced or hot matcha ($5 for hot, +$1 for iced), sparkling matcha ($7), sparkling matcha yuzu ($8), matcha affogato ($8), and matcha latte ($6, +$1 for iced) — so there’s definitely something for everyone.

Being a coffee lover myself, I also tried their iced latte ($7). The drink contained just the right amount of espresso and milk and was a lovely addition to the sweet baked goods.

Apart from offering delectable baked treats and drinks, the cafe also has a kitchen that serves up entrees such as all day breakfast ($10.90–$15), pizzas ($12–$15), and salads ($8–$12).

Future plans

Although she has already accomplished her dream of opening a cafe, it doesn’t stop there for Charmaine, who reveals that she intends to expand her business in time to come. “[Expanding] is definitely the long term goal, maybe even a franchise. And because I do miss Hong Kong, I do hope that I can start something there, maybe expand there as well.”

Claudia Tan/TheHomeGround Asia

To check out Bakeaholic Cafe’s menu items, visit their website at cafebakeaholicsg.com, or follow their Instagram page, @bakeaholic_sg.


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