While most consumers order cookies for Hari Raya, some still bake their own


  • Family
  • Wednesday, 10 Apr 2024

Ruzanna with her husband Syazwan Hakim and their young children. Ruzanna hopes to continue her baking business when her kids are in secondary school. — RUZANNA MOHD NAWAWI

A few decades ago, Hari Raya cookies, or kuih Raya, were mostly homemade. During Ramadan evenings after tarawih prayers, or on weekend mornings after sahur, mothers would be in the kitchen, shaping dough into cookies before baking them. And children were their diligent helpers. Kids who were not of fasting age got warm, freshly-made cookies as reward.

Traditional cookies include sugee cookies, pineapple tart, Milo cookies and semperit, just to name a few. And if there were supplies of tapioca or bananas, some even make their own kerepek.

But things have changed and these days, most consumers would just order their Hari Raya cookies since those who can bake have channelled their skills into a side hustle for extra income.

For staff nurse Ruzanna Mohd Nawawi, 34, however, nothing beats the joy of baking her own Hari Raya cookies. She started baking when she was 14, learning recipes and techniques from her mother. “It was something I love to do since I was a teenager. I used to look forward to Hari Raya because I could help my mum in the kitchen to bake cakes and cookies,” says the mother-of-three who lives in Teluk Intan, Perak.

In the beginning, she says, she liked to bake chocolate- and cornflakes-based cookies. “Children love these cookies and parents like to buy them for their kids. Plus, they are easier to bake compared to traditional cookies,” she adds.

By the time she started working, Ruzanna had a small side business. “Many people don’t bake now because consumers can easily buy what they want. But I would still suggest that everyone tries her or his hand at baking. You might be surprised at your ability and you could even make a side income out of it,” she says.

Since it was her mother who inspired her to bake and cook, this year, Ruzanna is divided between baking her own Raya cookies or buying them.

“Baking brings me joy while buying from either a bakery or a home baker encourages me to appreciate the work and effort that have been put in,” she says. “Baking for my family is also cheaper and I can be sure of the cleanliness and quality.”

But now, Ruzanna, whose children are between one and eight years old, is putting her home-based baking business on hold. “I have my hands full, so I only bake for my family,” she says, adding that she hopes to resume her business once all her children are in secondary school.

Muhamad Haikal Bahri working on his kek tapak kuda. — MUHAMAD HAIKAL BAHRI ZUL BAHRIMuhamad Haikal Bahri working on his kek tapak kuda. — MUHAMAD HAIKAL BAHRI ZUL BAHRI

Pandemic hobby

For Muhamad Haikal Bahri Zul Bahri, 18, baking began as hobby during the Covid-19 pandemic and it stuck with him until today. In fact, during the last school holidays, he spent the last few days baking the viral kek tapak kuda (a U-shaped sandwich cake) with his sister, Rini Azwa, 23, at their home in Puchong, Selangor.

“Everybody was at home and bored during the Movement Control Order (MCO). My mother who was, and still is, a small-scale industrial baker let us play with the baking machines at her workshop, and we started baking simple cookies and cakes,” says Haikal.

To date, the youngest and the only boy of five siblings has learned the recipes of some of his favourites like cakoi (Chinese-style fried dough), chocolate chip cookies and some cakes.

Haikal doesn’t entirely dismiss the idea of turning his hobby into an income stream, following the footsteps of his eldest sister, Rini Amira, 28, who has her own baking business.

“But for now, a dormitory is not a conducive place to start a business,” says the Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) candidate who is studying in Sekolah Menengah Agama Arabiah in Kluang, Johor.

Nur Alin with her mother, Eliza Yahaya. — NUR ALIN NATASHA FARISNur Alin with her mother, Eliza Yahaya. — NUR ALIN NATASHA FARIS

First year accounting information system student Nur Alin Natasha Faris, 19, doesn’t let her hectic student life stop her from baking Hari Raya cookies, for herself and her regular customers. “I make good money and the good feedback from my customers keeps me going,” says Nur Alin, who has been selling chocolate chip cookies and honey cornflakes on her social media platforms for three years.

Like Ruzanna, Nur Alin hones her skills early. “I was 10 years old when I started and the first cake I baked was burnt cheesecake. It was then that I learned how to separate yolk from egg white. My mother gave the instructions and I figured it out myself,” she says.

“It was fun watching and helping my mother bake, and that motivated and inspired me to do the same,” she says.

Nurin Alysha (right) with her mother, Nur Ezuin.Nurin Alysha (right) with her mother, Nur Ezuin.

Sweet inspiration

For second year actuarial science student Nurin Alysha Azni-sham, 21, baking is her retirement plan after living her dream as an actuary. “I can imagine myself being a baker, and I want to have my own small cafe or bakery once I retire,” she says.

Nurin’s inspiration is her mother, Nur Ezuin Zainuddin, 48, who bakes on the side of her full time job as a publisher.

“She was just a teenager when she started her small business. Initially, I spent a lot of money so she could attend baking and cake decorating classes. Now, she has mastered almost every single dessert out there,” Nur Ezuin adds.

Aside from baking out of interest, Nurin says she does it because the prices of desserts in cafes can be exorbitant. “I believe I can create a better variety of desserts with the same amount if I bake them myself,” she says.

Nurin loves trying new recipes including pavlova, English muffins, any type of chocolate chip cookies, scones and cakes. “I usually search the internet, show the new recipes to my mother and will try them out once I get her approval. Sometimes, I may tweak the recipes according to my taste,” she adds.

Nur Alin, who loves to bake carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies and burnt cheesecake, also goes online to look for new recipes.

“I like watching cooking shows on YouTube and when I like the recipe featured in the show, I would jump to the comment section to see if it is worth trying,” she adds.

Since his latest favourite cake to bake just went viral at the end of last year, Haikal has no problem finding easy-to-bake recipes on TikTok. “I found two doable recipes but the one I tried recently gave a fluffy base for my kek tapak kuda,” he adds.

Ruzanna says she loves to bake Nyonya pineapple tart. “You don’t need that many ingredients and it’s pretty easy to make. But the best thing about baking is seeing my family enjoying what I made. It really makes me happy,” she concludes.

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