A silver lining of the pandemic is how it has encouraged so many of us to evaluate how we want to spend our time and what we want to put into the world. For Grace Oey of Puff da Pastry the pandemic became a time of reflection, “I want to do something positive with myself in addition to being a mom and a wife. I want to create something that I can share with others. I think food is a way to connect with each other.”
An example of that connection was a recent gift order for a Sartell family from a relative living hours away. Among the unique aspects of Puff da’s business model is delivery. This way Puff da can bring something made with love and care to you and your loved ones, even if you can’t get it yourself. Grace shared that, “There are many reasons how and why we started Puff da Pastry. I love to bake something that I’d give my children. At the end of the day we hope to share diversity, creativity, and positivity through Puff da Pastry.”
After learning about the Minnesota Cottage Food Producer laws, Grace realized that there was a way to start a business from home. She can still be with her two young daughters while expressing her artistic creativity. Formally trained as an interior designer, Grace now creates a unique menu of baked goods that are available on a weekly basis.
Grace began baking as a child with her Mom for her family’s celebrations of the Chinese New Year. As her Mom’s assistant she took charge of measuring, mixing and egg washing. “Looking back it’s really interesting because my Mom didn’t have a stand mixer like we all have now. I really had to work and hold it long enough to cream the butter and the sugar. I complained as a child. How much longer? It’s taking too long.”
Grace and her husband Adrian Wijasa were both born in Indonesia. When Grace first lived on her own, she moved to Singapore, a key culinary step: “Living in Singapore really opened up my taste buds. I tried a lot of new foods while I lived there. Now in the United States I have found that there are even more kinds of foods.”
“At the end of the day we hope to share diversity, creativity, and positivity through Puff da Pastry.”–Grace Oey
Baking was a hobby and happy place for Grace. She had long been the whole family’s birthday cake baker. After trying many recipes, she started experimenting with puff pastries.
The puff pastries are the ultimate Minnesota mash up. The spiral puff on her menu is a traditional Indonesian pastry. Her rainbow puff is Chinese-influenced. She and her husband studied the Minnesota Cottage Food Producers guide to figure out how to turn these traditionally savory pastries into sweet ones.
Since beginning to take orders in February 2021, Grace has expanded her menu to include stuffed cookies, mochi brownies, baked mochi donuts, custom treats for event, and seasonal treats box for special occasions.
If you haven’t tried a mochi donut, you’re in for a treat. Grace creates new flavors on a nearly monthly basis. The original recipe calls for a fried donut, but Grace found that those lost their distinctive texture within a day. She went through several experiments to create the version she now sells. “I’m very proud of the mochi donut. Cosmonuts, the artistic twist of the baked mochi donuts, which have gained quite a bit of great reviews and sales! I can keep the crispiness on the outside with the chewy, mochi texture on the inside and make sure all the flavors are balanced.”
Balanced is the word that I would use for all the Puff da pastries that I sampled. You can taste the high-quality ingredients, not just the sweet. Grace sources organic ingredients as much as possible in her baking. She uses Peace Coffee to create the deep warmth of her mocha flavors.
Puff da is a family affair. Adrian, a programmer at St. John’s University, designed the websitehttps://www.puffda.com and serves as co-pilot on deliveries. Their children help with taste tasting and come along for deliveries around Saint Cloud and throughout the Twin Cities Metro. The family turns the deliveries into an opportunity to explore, stopping at playgrounds and local restaurants and food markets for take out. Among their favorites are Coastal Seafood’s lobster roll, Christos’s puff pastries and United Noodles, especially for Indonesian cassava chips. On their last run to the Twin Cities, United Noodles had sold out of chips—it seems that someone else is on to their family’s favorite.
In addition to the website, you can follow Puff da on Facebook and Instagram @puffdapastry for menu updates and rotating specials. Visit Grace and her tantalizing treats in person at her Sartell Farmers’ Market debut in the summer of 2023!
To discover more makers and growers of Minnesota, follow @MeettheMinnesotaMakers on Facebook and Instagram.
Eat well. Eat local!
Grace shared a recipe for a family tradition that she has continued with her daughters. In Indonesia, Mother’s Day falls on Dec 22. Her family always made “wedang ronde” or “tang yuan” (in Chinese) for that day. It’s made from glutinous rice flour and served in a warm ginger syrup. Her eldest daughter especially enjoys making them. She said it’s almost like playing play dough that you can eat afterwards. This could be a great home project for the chilly days ahead here in Minnesota.
Recipe for Wedang Ronde/ Tang Yuan:
White glutinous rice balls: 50g glutinous rice flour 10g powdered sugar 35ml hot boiling water
Green glutinous rice balls: 50g glutinous rice flour 10g powdered sugar 35ml hot boiling water 1/2 tsp matcha powder
Blue glutinous rice balls: 50g glutinous rice flour 10g powdered sugar 35ml hot boiling water 1/2 tsp butterfly pea flower powder
Red glutinous rice balls: 50g glutinous rice flour 10g powdered sugar 35ml hot boiling water 1/2 tsp red beet powder
Yellow glutinous rice balls: 50g glutinous rice flour 10g powdered sugar 35ml hot boiling water 1/8 turmeric powder
Ginger syrup: 4 cups of water 50g fresh ginger 100g brown sugar 3 pandan leaves, knotted
Instructions: 1. Make the ginger syrup: Roast the fresh ginger (to enhance the ginger aroma) over the stove until it’s a bit charred, around 5 minutes each side. Let it cool, scrape the skin, and bruise. You can skip this process and cut the fresh ginger into thin slices. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the ginger, knotted pandan leaves, and brown sugar. Bring it back to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer for about 30 minutes. You may add more sugar to your taste. Set aside. 2. Make the glutinous rice balls: place 50g glutinous rice flour, 10g icing sugar, and powdered flavors to color (if needed), into 5 different mixing bowls. Whisk to mix. 3. Add 35ml of hot boiling water into each of the flour mixture and stir to mix and then knead into a non-sticky dough. Cover them with plastic wrap and work with one dough at a time to prevent them from drying out. 4. Shape the doughs into small balls (around 20 balls). Keep the small balls covered in plastic wrap too. Continue with the rest. 5. Cook the glutinous rice balls, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the glutinous rice balls and cook until they float to the top, continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and submerge them in a fresh water briefly 6. Put a portion of the cooked glutinous rice balls into serving bowls, pour the ginger syrup over it. If you want them to be served warm, reboil the ginger syrup before pouring into the serving bowl. Enjoy!
There are many options of natural coloring for this glutinous rice balls, but using coloring powder/ a drop of coloring gel (if you wish) is the simplest way to make them.