Simple is always best — that is an apt description for the butter cakes Nancy Chong has painstakingly baked and iced for over four decades. It won’t be an exaggeration to say the 90-year-old former civil servant had seen generations of Ipohites celebrate many an occasion with her cakes.
Through the years, she has retained her trademark style — pure butter icing with a pretty floral design. She has worked out of a bungalow in Lebuh Lasam till now, and customers will find her hunched over the counter in the kitchen, intent on piping out each individual “flower”.
“I don’t even remember when I started… it was such a long time ago,” laughs Nancy. She has almost completely handed over the reins to her two daughters now, she says, but remains a constant presence in the kitchen, waiting quietly from the side.
“My mother doesn’t take butter. Would you believe it?” says daughter Kathy, who shares how her mother started gifting friends the cakes she baked. Soon, orders started coming in from friends, the earliest of which was for a wedding cake.
The fragrant, melt-in-your-mouth butter cakes also proved popular at Dewan Bandaraya Ipoh, where she once worked. The former secretary would get requests to bake them, among other signature treats, for office events or work functions.
Today, Nancy Cakes is as much about nostalgia for Ipohites as it is about celebrations, even as her daughters help carry on her legacy. Asked what keeps her going all these years, her face brightens as she says simply, “I love to cook.”
This interview first appeared in our special destination guide ‘Ipoh’ on July 30, 2018.