Dayak pastry baker excels in Malaya

Molly (right) with fellow classmates at the St. Honore pastry class.

By Gabriel Lihan

KUCHING: The pandemic may have robbed some businesses during the movement control order (MCO) but this wasn’t the case for wife and mother of two, Molly Dacco from Kampung Taee, Serian.

What started off as a challenge became a reality for Molly, who bakes artisan bread. Artisan breads are low in sugar and fat.

“Artisan breads are tricky and have a lot of calculations involved. The process varies depending on room temperature, pH level, and strength of the wild yeast,” she told New Sarawak Tribune in an interview.

The process of making the artisan bread

She explained that she only uses organic ingredients, and that artisan bread aids in good digestibility, has prebiotics, and is great for gut microbes.

During the MCO, she didn’t know what the bakery market was like, but through faith and an extra bit of convincing from her friends, she began selling them to her friends and family.

Molly said that the MCO made things difficult as ingredients were often out of supply and shops were often closed but she kept on persevering.

When asked what inspired her to start baking, she enthused, ‘’Instagram! My European Instagram baker and chef friends, who have been the most friendliest and supportive bunch!’’

‘’I started bakery because I struggled to find good quality bread, which I think is good for my health.

‘’I used to run when I was much younger and I wanted to continue living healthy and so I sought for bread which was sugar free, commercial yeast free and fragrance and chemical free,” she said.

Passion turns into business

The process of making the artisan bread

Molly started baking at the age of 15 in secondary school and would often run to the nearby grocery shops to get some basic baking materials like flour, sugar, eggs and margarine.

“This happens a lot during festive seasons like Christmas and Gawai,” she added.

Molly reminisces her first time owning an oven was when her neighbour wanted to throw it away and replace it with a newer one.

“It was a kerosene camping stove in those days and it wasn’t an electric oven like the ones I have now.”

From selling artisan breads from home and starting her first business, she now has her own fully equipped bakery premises located in a residential area.

‘’Everything now is pre-order via WhatsApp based on the prices given.

‘’I hope to expand the business and move to either a proper commercial lot or a shopping mall someday,” she said.

Family and a heart for the Dayak community

Molly with friends and family

Molly, has two lovely boys, aged 18 and 13. But she manages her time well with being a mother and owning a bakery business.

Despite her love for baking, she still finds time for family, cooking at home and cooking her children’s favourite food.

She tries to get her two boys to love artisan bread but finds it difficult as they have sweet tooth.

‘’I cook Bidayuh food for my family, my husband loves it but my two boys are still finding their way around it.

‘’Daun ubi (Tapioca leaves) are my husband’s favourite, Ayam Pansuh (chicken cooked in bamboo) is still a challenging bite for them’’ she said with a laugh.

Molly is the first and only Dayak pastry baker who owns a bakery in West Malaysia, which focuses on artisan bread.

Three years ago, she graduated from a French pastry school, St Honore also known as St. Honoratus cake, in Paris.

Her love for travelling, especially in Europe, New Zealand and Australia further enhanced her love for pastry and bakery.

The process of making the artisan bread

She explained that she was 40 and was the only adult among 16 to 19 years old in the renowned pastry school.

‘’I worked as an executive secretary in a few consultant firms for a period of 19 years before starting this bakery business.

‘’I hope to help the Dayak community and provide bakery classes for them,” she said.

She added that she would willingly give free classes but expenses for transport and classes would need to be covered.

“Baking is certainly scary, it was intimidating for me, but I find joy and happiness when I bake. I hope my customers will enjoy the same love when tasting them.

‘’I hope to share my knowledge, especially with the Dayak community, I am grateful to have advanced skills in baking and I would be keen to do it with them,” she said.

Health: Bakery items and bread products

The process of making the artisan bread

“Due to my love of healthy living, I live a healthy lifestyle by running and eating healthy,” she said.

She said that she used to run a lot, about 10 to 18 kilometres, three times a week for the past 20 years.

‘’Despite the busy baking schedules, working 15 to 20 hours a day, I do try to fit in time to live an active lifestyle.’’

She also loves gardening, especially plants which have herbs, and that cooking is something she loves doing together with her two boys.

Her healthy products have been her best selling items, sourdough loaves especially the spelt multi-grains which she calls ‘double seeded’. It contains 19 types of grains and seeds to help reduce inflammation in the body which protects the health of cells and organs than the refined flour used in white bread.

She excitedly explained that her other best selling item is a BB Keto loaf which is flour-free, sugar-free, yeast-free, artificial flavour and colouring free.

Molly explains that it supports weight loss, and enhances brain functions.

She also adds other high protein ingredients which enhance the flavour of the bread.

When asked about the prices of the bread, she added that the double seeded is sold at RM30 a loaf of 1kg and the Keto loaf at RM33 for 800 grams.

‘’My advice to those who are thinking about venturing into this business or intend to start a career is to learn to be skillful, work with your hand and mind.

‘Never give up and work hard, but the most important thing is don’t be afraid to take chances,” Molly advised.

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