Pineapple Cake - Sunny Hill remains tops

At a recent inaugural fair held in Singapore, 13 vendors offering Taiwanese pastries, fine quality tea and tea ware were showcased. The stalls were selected from an award list to fly in from Taiwan.

Since we often have overseas visitors asking for gift recommendations, we went down to check it out.

We zoomed in on pineapple cakes, an all-season favorite, and tried the sampling from two stalls but couldn’t make any purchases as the pineapple paste tastes unnatural. Many brands of pineapple cakes use a mixture of winter melon and pineapple for its fillings, claiming that a proper mix creates a filling that tastes the best.

For the discerning, nothing but authentic pineapple filling would do.

At one corner was a pineapple cake vendor with a colorful display of pineapple cake boxes and packages. The sales personnel, polished in FAQs, handled questions like “How does your brand compare with Sunny Hill’s?” with alacrity, assuring that only the best ingredients are used; and “Why aren’t you offering samples?” claiming that when exposed to air, the pineapple cake becomes dry and hard, and customers may think that’s how it really is.

In place of samples, brochures depicting the freshness of the pineapple cakes were offered.

Usually, we don’t buy unfamiliar brands based on trust. In fact, two customers walked off upon finding out that there was no samples. But this fair was backed by reputable agencies, and the price they (dare to) charge was quite close to that of well-reputed brands.

So we swiped the credit card and what follows was an experience that left us perplexed and bewildered.

Tricks or Treats.. our testers’ comments on brand "X"

Tester 1:
"Over-baked."
"Taste horrid. Quick, give me the KFC Portugese tart! I need to override the lousy taste in my mouth!"


1. Chao-tar (Burnt) Pineapple cake
Overbaked crust


Tester 2:
" Burnt crust.”
"Oh my goodness, where's the pineapple? It's mostly dough! And the dough is too flaky."


2. 1st bite=less filling
Stingy filling


Tester 3:
"Dry."
"Stingy filling."
"Did they use the pineapple juice to make other product? No taste of pineapple!”
"Worse than Mr. Bean's pineapple tart (S$6.80 for 6 pieces)."


3. Pineapple cake.. this is one sad puppy.
More crust plied away before this much filling revealed


Tester 4:
"Over-baked"
"Poorest dough of all pineapple tarts ever tasted!"

In a nutshell (pineapple shell in this case), this stuff was close to inedible.


4. Pineapple Cake shown in brochure
In the brochure, generous filling




















The crust on the next 3 tested looks less dark and patchy but still has the dried up taste that makes one cringe.

Whoever does the stuffing was quite stingy about it, unlike what the brochure shows.

Some variance in taste is understandable but who loves over-baked, burnt-out stuff?

We are not sure what happens here.

The company claims strict QC control. So if it is not an issue with this batch, did we just encounter a version of food fraud, where food items are misrepresent?

The contents certainly doesn’t match up with the ad at all.

The organizer hastened to assure that this is not the case – the brand did well in the Taiwan market.

All we know is it’d be a PR disaster if we had purchase this in bulk (as we almost did) and give it out as corporate gifts without first testing it for ourselves. For tourists, there is nothing more inconvenient than to cart heavy stuff in their luggage only to find the treat was one big disappointment.



GIFTS & GOODIES RECOMMENDATION

So what would we recommend for corporates gifts, celebrative goodies, and edibles for tourists to bring home?

Taking into account that this is not a definitive survey, but an opinion piece where we were asked to share our experience, and that so far, we have only managed to sample 5 brands of Taiwan pineapple cakes, in terms of authenticity, Sunny Hill is the only one that meets the hallmark of what constitutes a good pineapple cake. For pineapple tarts, we like the “golf-ball” ones from LE Café. If packaging image matters, Sunny Hill may be more suitable.

Sunny Hills pineapple cakes - what’s notable?

♠  Nantou’s indigenous pineapples
We like the chewable moist chunks and fibre (good for health) in the texture of the filling.

♠  New Zealand butter
Light buttery flavor that doesn’t overwhelm.

♠  Japanese gourmet flour
For superior taste and texture.

♠  Plump-yolked eggs
Adds rich flavor to the crust.

♠  No preservatives or artificial flavorings
The taste of the pineapple may change slightly according to seasons, which is how it should be when the filling is not covered up by artificial processes.

♠  Not overly sweet
Fructose, saccharin, sugar - the less the better.

♠  Big
Each brick-shaped cake is equivalent to 2 – 3 pineapple tarts.  This certainly helps to ward off hunger for times when we get so busy we go without meals.

♠  Generous pineapple filling
Many bakeries underfill, resulting in an all pastry taste.

♠  Actual pineapples used for the filling
Not mixed with candied winter melon.

♠  Halal-certified
Good as multi-national corporate gifts.

♠  Quality Control
To maintain quality, pineapple cakes are made in Taiwan and airflown here. The shelf life (best consume in less than a month) is printed on each box.

♠  Location
It isn't any brand that can meet the criteria to qualify for a Raffles Hotel address, which is an assurance of sorts.  If the inside has turned foul for some reason like our recent encounters, we are sure Sunny Hill would take ownership of the issue.

♠  Individually wrapped
Mess-free and convenient to carry around as ready snack.

♠  Packaging
The packaging is minimalist and elegant, with the cakes placed in an recyclable gift box.  Currently, it comes with a calico bag.
1. Sunny Hill Pineapple Delivery rs
2. Sunny Hill Package rs
3. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake Package rs
4. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake Package rs
5. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake Calico Bag rs
6. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake box rs
7. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake Fresh Bake rs
8. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake rs
9. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake rs
10. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake rs

Serving Suggestions

Hot
A tip from Lee, SunnyHills at Raffles Hotel --
Put into mini oven for 2-3 minutes, and it will be crumbly outside and warm pineapple fillings – almost as though it was just baked.

In some countries, the weather tends to turn things cold and hard, so this method works well.

ColdTake it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for that extra decadence.

Eat it as is
Served with hot or cold tea.

We used to make our own pineapple tarts from Sarawak pineapple and the freshest ingredients, because it’s not easy to find pineapple tarts / cakes with the right combo of pastry and filling that pleases the palate. But it’s a labor of love if you want to do it well – 3-4 hours’ careful tending to yield just a hundred small tarts.

So to have Sunny Hill right in Singapore is a really convenient alternative, and in a readily presentable form, for serving to guests or as gifts.

Side-by-side Comparison

We prefer Sunny Hill's 50g to the competitor's 40g which makes the overall crust ratio too dominant.


Note the different in weight, per packet
Note the different in weight, per packet



Sunny Hill on the left, another brand on the right..
12. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake Left rs
13. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake Left BEAUTY&THEBEAST rs
14. Sunny Hill Pineapple Cake Left rs

The pineapple cake industry is highly competitive, with many brands jumping on board with new innovations like playful shape designs or fillings that have added cranberries, longans, and other fruits, or flavored with red wine, mocha, or green tea, etc.

Till today, the ones made by Sunny Hill remains tops on the craving scale. Lee, SunnyHills at Raffles Hotel, shares some insights:

“Sunny Hill created the rectangular ‘brick shape’ and is the first to use only Taiwan’s native pineapples which are non-GM and organically grown. Now we have many look-alikes and some even use exactly the same wordings and descriptions. As they say, being copied is the best type of flattery..”

“Until now we have not changed the ingredients, except that costs have been going up. In fact, we are looking to use even better ingredients; our master baker is constantly trying to make it better.”

Comments from our testers?

No comments.. All the Sunny Hills pineapple cakes were gobbled down too fast to capture comments.
A box of 10 was gone in minutes.
The second box of 10, rationed for the next day, was gone within hours.

One fussy eater who dislikes pastry stuff rejected the Sunny Hill pineapple cake. Nevertheless, we left it on his workstation. He ended up asking for more.



CONTACT SunnyHills 微热山丘:

Singapore
SunnyHills at Raffles Hotel
328 North Bridge Road
#03-05 Raffles Hotel Arcade
Singapore 188719
Tel / SMS: 65-85229605
Fax: 65-67928211
Email: service@sunnyhills.com.sg
Website: http://www.sunnyhills.com.sg/contact.php
Order Details: http://www.sunnyhills.com.sg/order_contry.php

Shanghai, China
SunnyHills on The Bund
2F, Y.W.C.A. Building, No. 133
Yuanmingyuan Road
Shanghai 200002
China
Tel: 86-21-62363316
Fax: 86-21-62363301

Taipei, TaiwanSunnyHills at The Park
No. 1, Aly. 4, Ln. 36, Sec. 5
Minsheng East Road
Taipei 105
Taiwan
Tel: 886-2-27600508
Fax: 886-2-27600509

Nantou, TaiwanSunnyHills Courtyard
No. 2, Ln. 1100, Bagua Road
Nantou City
Nantou County 540
Taiwan
Tel: 886-49-2292767
Fax: 886-49-2291500
16. Sunny Hill Logo



Anime Festival Asia (AFA) 2013

Date:  08 - 10 November 2013
Venue:  Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre
Organizers:  Dentsu | Sozo
Website:  http://www.animefestival.asia/afa13/

The 2013 edition of Anime Festival Asia, held at the newly renovated Suntec Singapore, attracts fans of all things anime.  This is also one of the few occasions where members of the public get to witness the legions of cosplayers with admiring followers and photographers trooping around.

As it turns out, cosplaying can also attract consternation when it crosses path with those who misinterpret the characters some cosplayers choose to pose as.

In the spirit of cosplaying, a cosplayer dressed herself up in the battle gear outfit of the character Ryuko Matoi, from the popular anime series Kill la Kill.

Kill la Kill character Ryuko Matoi
Kill la Kill character Ryuko Matoi




Unfortunately, that particular character act was apparently too much for a conservative lady, who caused a commotion when she raise the alarm by calling the police.

In observing the scene, the girl was actually still within the confines of what would normally be deemed acceptable as a cosplay area; the cut of her dressing concedes a lesser degree of exposure and she was posing just for the event.  Everyone was just having fun, aww..


AFA Little Girl Coplayer
AFA Little Cosplayer
Anime Festival Asia
Anime Festival Asia
Anime Fesival Asia
Anime Festival Asia

Overall, it was an event that brought a lot of joy to the young and young-at-heart.  Full of fun vibes and energy.

We thoroughly enjoyed the festival!


Book Signing @ Singapore Writers Festival

Event:  Book Signing @ Singapore Writers Festival
Date:  09 November 2013
Venue:  Singapore Management University (SMU)
Organizer:  National Arts Council, Singapore

Brisk sales of books during this book-signing session..

1. Singapore Writers Festival Authors Signing

The line for books to be signed by Carol Ann Duffy was long, but orderly.  She is the first female British poet laureate in the position's 341-year history.  Her works, addressing issues such as oppression, gender and violence, are popular in schools.
2. Carol Ann Duffy

Author Peter James, known for his best selling mystery books..
4. Peter James Bestsellers
3. Lucy Hawkings, Peter James
5. Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 3

Lucy Hawkings' book series on display..
8. Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 6
6. Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 2
7. Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 1

Lucy Hawkings @ Singapore Writers Festival

Event:  Meet The Author - Lucy Hawkings
Date:  09 November 2013
Venues:  Glass Hall, Singapore Art Museum (SAM)
Organizer:  National Arts Council, Singapore


Lucy Hawkings shares the impact her physicist father, Stephen Hawking, has, on her literary path, and touches on the new book that she is working on.

Moderated by: Sarah Meisch

Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 1
Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 2
Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 3

The Event was held at the Glass House, Singapore Art Museum.

Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 5
Lucy Hawkings, Singapore Writers Festival 4

Dementia, by Haresh Sharma

Event:  Read & Play @ Singapore Writers Festival
Date:  09 November 2013
Venues:  Singapore Management University (SMU)
Organizer:  National Arts Council, Singapore


Dementia, when it strikes, affects the life and lifestyle of the sufferer and those around him/her.

Haresh Sharma puts his perspective of this affliction in full play, in his book Don't Forget to Remember Me.
1. Haresh Sharma, Don't Forget to Remember Me 1
2. Haresh Sharma, Don't Forget to Remember Me 2

Asia for Animals (AFA) Conference 2014

Date:  13 - 14 January 2014
Venue:  Furama RiverFront Hotel
Organizer:  Asia For Animals Coalition
Hosted by:  ACRES (Animal Concerns Research & Education Society)
Website:  http://asiaforanimals.com/afa-conference
AFA Asia for Animals CoalitionACRES

In 2014, Singapore will be hosting this biennial conference once again.  It was held previously in Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chennai, Bali, and China.

The theme of AFA 2013 is "Confronting Cruelty".

The Asia for Animals (AFA) Coalition is composed of 13 well-known and respected animal welfare organisations:-

◘  ACRES - Animal Concerns Research & Education Society
◘  Animal People
◘  Blue Cross of India, Madras
◘  SPCA - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
◘  IFAW - International Fund for Animal Welfare
◘  PAWS - The Philippine Animal Welfare Society
◘  Humane Society International
◘  Animals Asia - Until the cruelty ends
◘  Earth Island Institute
◘  WSPA - World Society for the Protection of Animals
◘  International Animal Rescue
◘  RSCPA - Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
◘  Animal Guardians

All have a shared focus on the welfare of animals in Asia.

 

Some headlines from the AFA website --

Sacrifice at Gadhimai Festival
Asia for Animals is deeply concerned about the forthcoming Gadhimai Festival due to take place in Nepal in 2014, the festival will see the slaughter of many hundreds of thousands of animals.

Dolphins in travelling circuses, Indonesia
In February 2013 amid mounting public pressure, including a letter from the AfA coalition, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan announced that he would end the use of dolphins for entertainment in travelling circuses.

Good News for macaques in Jakarta - UPDATE!!
On 20th October 2013 the Governor of Jakarta announced an end to the use of macaques in street performances

Elephant calves continue to suffer in China
Three calves imported into China in November 2012 are still languishing in miserable conditions inside Chinese zoos. The health of these 3 calves remains a major cause for concern.

Circus Operation in Xiamen
AFA have been alerted to the development of an international circus operation in Xiamen, China. The welfare of captive wild animals used in circuses is severely compromised by their training, performances

Dolphins in captivity: Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore
The Asia for Animals coalition members are saddened to hear that the 25 dolphins have been shipped to Singapore despite the efforts of Earth Island Institute (EII), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (AFA coalition member ), and CARA Welfare Philippines to block this move in the Philippine courts.

Neglect and suffering at Surabaya Zoo, Indonesia
AFA is shocked and appalled to learn of the appalling conditions for animals at Surabaya Zoo, Indonesia.

Hachimantai Bear Park
In May 2012, two workers at the Hachimantai Bear Park in Northern Akita Prefecture, Japan were killed when a number of bears escaped from their enclosure.