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Dancing With LIT Bakehouse

Dancing With LIT Bakehouse

Nisya Kunto
31 August 2021

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Following my encounter with their wonderful croissants, I had the delight of speaking with Lalita Setiandi, the wizard behind the all-wonderful pastries at LIT Bakehouse.

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When I eat something enjoyable, I dance a little. Those who regularly dine with me would have memorized that silly little routine, complete with a sing-songy hum. I don’t think I’m the only one who does that, because when I scroll through TikTok, I’ll run into videos of lovebirds recording their significant others enjoying a meal, and they too, would do their little dance. Every dance is different, but I wonder if that’s the universal non-verbal cue to say I’m loving this!

During the pandemic, days go by almost identical to one another: mornings merging into afternoons and evenings, like a murky photocopied paper superimposed by another layer of murky ink. But every once in a while, life ushers in a colourful anomaly — you don’t see it coming, it just takes you by surprise and engulfs you from the inside-out. This time, my saving grace comes in a box whose content made me… dance.

I still replay the moment I first opened that bright pink box to inhale the summery smell of passion fruit — vibrant and emotive. That marked my first encounter with the Drake. The temptation of the toasted meringue on top of the golden croissant reminded me of my childhood snack, the Kraft Jet-puffed Marshmallow Creme, and it’s just too hard to resist so I did what any curious kid would, I poked it. Quickly, I tasted a hint of fresh fruit, interspersed with a crunchy texture that I later learned was osmanthus crumbs. Surely enough, when that sweet-and-sour note hit my palate, I did my little dance. It lit me up. 

That first taste was my invitation to dance with LIT, and to seek further what the pink box has to offer. Inside, I found  a butter croissant,  an almond croissant, and one pain au chocolat. I carefully rationed every piece so that I can take the time to enjoy each one of them, instead of demolishing it all overnight. The next morning, when I bit into the last piece of the butter croissant, I decided that this must be the first time in a while that I’ve felt invigorated by a box of pastries. It must be some sort of sorcery, I said to myself. 

Following my encounter with the captivating bunch, I had the delight of speaking with Lalita Setiandi, the wizard behind the all-wonderful pastries at LIT Bakehouse.

Our conversation started with an affectionate confession, “I have a soft spot for croissants,” admitted Lalita. “When I was in Sydney, I used to walk my dog every morning and made a quick stop at a neighborhood bakery for a fresh baked croissant”, she reminisced. Now back in her hometown, Lalita challenged herself to brush up her baking skills and practice with laminated dough, “I got really obsessed with the croissant’s intricate layers. However, I wanted to create something that people can enjoy daily,” she continued. 

But croissants are temperamental creatures notorious for its intricacy; a slight temperature change can tamper with the dough, “It took me five months to be able to say that I’m happy with my croissant dough.” Although researching and developing a satisfactory recipe is no easy feat, Lalita puts in great effort to pursue a pastry perfection, “There is great complexity in each layer of the croissant. It takes a lot of precision, attention to detail, and patience. There are no shortcuts, each detail in every single step matters — the temperature of the flour and butter pliability, the resting time, the rolling and shaping, and so it goes until the croissants are baked in the oven.”

For Lalita, however, these croissants means more than just churning the latest, hippest creation from her artisanal bakery. LIT’s croissants hold a special place in her heart because it’s a common thread she shares with her mother, “Selling croissants is one of my mom’s dreams. We are big croissant eaters and we used to dream of selling croissants. So to be able to make her dream come true is pretty special to me.” 

After many months of development, LIT Bakehouse finally launched their signature croissant selections back in July. All of which are visually pleasing, delicate in texture, and packed with fresh, pronounced flavours. Take a look at the Esther, the elegant twice-baked pistachio croissant adorned with a sprinkle of funky-fuchsia freeze-dried raspberries, “The idea of our signature Esther came from our pink colour that represents LIT Bakehouse. After colour coding, we picked ingredients following the color & flavour that complements one another. On the other side, Papi is a croissant packed with homemade peanut butter custard, drizzled with Valrhona jivara, and topped with Valrhona cookie crumble. It’s just a flavour combo that’s rich and comforting, no BS,” explained Lalita, “I’m a very visual person, so colours, textures, and shapes have been my inspiration in the product executions. I also get inspired by the product we use,” she continued.

Recalling my own encounter with the wonderful croissants, I must ask her which ones are her personal favourites, “Almond is my go-to. It’s a twice baked croissant soaked in sugar syrup, lathered with a generous amount of almond frangipane and almond flakes. Esther is also on the top of my list at the moment. We use beautiful ingredients for Esther; Valrhona Framboise chocolate, freeze-dried raspberries, and pistachio. The acidity from the raspberry gives a nice balance to the sweet and nutty pistachio frangipane.”

Following the blossoming of the bakehouse itself is a treat: the graduate of International Restaurant Management at Le Cordon Bleu Sydney started LIT BAKEHOUSE in March 2020, and it has been nothing but an adventure since. The past year, LIT Bakehouse has collaborated in bringing innovative products with other brands, such as KAUM, Kaktus Cookies, and MEDJA by All Seasons. “Before it all began, I envisioned LIT as a canvas to share my passion for baked goods and pastry. At LIT, we would like to put a product that is inspired by seasons, happy places, and memories. Growing up, I’ve lived in both Glodok and Sydney, which makes all these products personal to me,” she shared, “To be honest, starting it as an artisan bakery, I wasn’t quite sure how people would perceive LIT Bakehouse because of our unique flavour combination. However, throughout the year, the positive responses that customers have given to us have been very surprising and humbling.”

Lalita stated that the opportunity to express her creativity and passion in an edible form and being able to share it with many of their customers is a great joy, “I know some of our customers are limiting themselves from sugar because they’re on a strict diet, but every once in a while, some of our customers will say ‘this is worth every calorie’, or ‘I’m glad to have LIT on my cheat day’.” For Lalita, those candid feedbacks are what makes the long hours at the bakery worthwhile. 

Noting her sheer creativity and stellar pastry artistry, there is no doubt that Lalita is a force to be reckoned with, and she is not going anywhere. If anything, Lalita has only started putting down roots in her neighborhood of Glodok, “We’ve been planning to open a concept store this year in the heart of Chinatown, Glodok — but due to COVID, we have decided to postpone it until the situation improves,” shared Lalita in hopeful anticipation, “We are very excited for this concept store — it’s a mix between the rich Chinese culture in Glodok, and our love for good food.”

Concluding our interview, I thanked Lalita once again for creating pastries that invoke such joy. Before we parted, she said, “I believe good days are coming — then you will see me rolling my croissants in Glodok”. I nodded, agreeing to her high spirits. I look forward to the day we can all dance at the bakehouse.  

All photos are courtesy of LIT Bakehouse.

LIT Bakehouse

Taman Sari, Glodok, Jakarta Barat, Indonesia.

CUISINE

Hearty and innovative pastry creations.

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