As a young adult, I had very little money on me, even after I started working. This is because my parents’ business was falling apart and I had to put myself through the university, and still brought home cash for the family as I felt really sad seeing my mother so troubled with the finances.

Despite that, I would always invest in myself. It was in my late teens and early twenties that I picked up all kinds of skills by attending all sorts of classes: languages, cooking, baking, sewing, dancing, aerobicss, lifesaving. I became proficient in many, many things, including becoming a qualified lifeguard, a certified aerobics and personal trainer, I can sew my own work clothes, evening gowns and swimming costumes, I can bake and cook pretty much anything I wanted to, and I speak seven languages.

In 1988 and 1989, I attended baking classes three times a week. It was rare for people to attend baking classes then, and even rarer for a young woman to do so. I could only afford non-branded classes in the neighbourhood. But I learned a lot. There were good teachers that made me proficient. I learned everything they could teach and attended every course available. The first cake the school I attended, Cooking Art, taught was cake rolls. Really easy to make.
Here is their recipe:

This recipe is fail-proof in that it uses a one-bowl method and ovalette. Ovalette is an emulsifier and cake stabiliser that is used predominantly in the baking sponge cakes or steam cakes. It gives the cakes a super fine texture.

My mother also wanted to learn how to bake, so I developed a recipe for her using a Tablespoon, since she is illiterate. That was 30 years ago. However, my mother now has dementia, and is not able to memorize the recipe anymore. So I now draw the recipe for her in the little note book.

Roll before it cools

Sugar roll

Once it cools, sandwich your favourite filings and then roll up. I like to use butter cream.

Before trimming

swiss roll

Ready to eat

Here is my mother.. Now if she at 83 can bake the cake, then don’t give any more excuses. I have shown you how.

My mom enjoying the fruit of her labour.

Cooking Art’s Roll


Cooking Art's Roll (16 x 16 pan)

  • 10 egg yolks - cold
  • 6 egg whites - cold
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 100 g melted butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ovalett
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • 30 g corn flour

My no wastage version for 13x 13 inches pan

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1 Tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cold water
  • 1 tsp ovalette
  • 6 Tbsp corn oil or butter


  • Preheat oven at 375F or 190C
  • Mix flour, cornflour and baking powder together.
  • Melt butter, set aside to cool.
  • Beat egg whites, egg yolks, dry ingredients, suugar, ovalett, cold water together at medium speed until stiff.
  • Fold in melted butter (or oil)
  • Spread mixture onto a well greased swiss roll tin (check sizes above) tray lined with grease proof paper.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • When cooled, spread evenly with jam or creanm then roll up the cake lightly.
  • Cut into desired width.