She didn't sleep for 3 days making cookies

COOKIE QUEEN: To ensure the freshness of her cookies, Madam Lim never freezes the dough, but makes them in small batches. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER


    Jan 27, 2014

    She didn't sleep for 3 days making cookies

    IT IS the peak period for cookie-maker Olivia Lim.

    These days, she can expect little sleep as she pulls all-nighters in the kitchen to churn out orders which run in the thousands.

    The longest she has gone without sleep was 72 hours.

    "It was during the last Chinese New Year. I didn't go home for three days. Instead, I survived on 10-minute naps here and there," said the 37-year-old.

    Madam Lim, who owns bakery My Lovebites in Joo Chiat Road, uses between 75kg and 100kg of butter on average every month. One batch of 12 trays usually requires 1.5kg of butter.

    This doubles when festive seasons like Christmas and Chinese New Year roll around.

    Aside from her mother, who helps her on a full-time basis, Madam Lim employs a pool of part-time helpers who work on a rotation basis. But the high volume of orders means that the workload is still heavy. People who can do the job and don't mind its long hours are few and far between, she said.

    "There seems to be a lack of apprenticeship in the culture here," she said, adding that many see the glamorous side of baking, but not the grunt work that goes into the preparation.

    To ensure the freshness of her cookies, she never freezes the dough, but takes the time-consuming and arduous route of making it in small batches.

    Body aches and pains which come from standing for 18 hours a day, coupled with dry hands, are par for the course, but they are sacrifices she does not mind.

    "When I can make (the cookies) faster and they look better, that's what motivates me."

    Her efforts are paying off. She has a strong base of loyal customers who do not mind shelling out between $16 and $24 for a 180g pack of cookies. Bestsellers include salted-caramel butter and panjava brulee, which features pandan and organic coconut sugar from Indonesia.

    She seldom has to deal with difficult customers, but her husband does not mince his words when it comes to critiquing her cookies.

    "Sometimes, he will say that the cookies lack oomph, or punch. I just take the feedback and tweak or improve (the recipe)," she said.