The Belly Treats bakeshop

It started with a lunch out with my friend, Emily, who felt strongly that we must celebrate the official start of my next book project – the sequel to My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage.

A modest signboard on its whitewashed facade
Emily wanted to introduce me to Belly Treats so she picked a café at Taman Mount Austin to have our lunch so that we could go to its location in this part of the city.

Emily told me that for some time now, she had been ordering cakes and other goodies with Haziqah Mazlan and used to collect the orders from her home in Taman Perling. But she had recently set up shop for this business.

This sounded rather interesting so I kept an open mind, anticipating something quite highly recommended especially when Emily – who also enjoys baking – wanted to introduce them to me.

A chalk-board with a list of Belly Treats
When we got into the car, Emily set her phone map to an address in Taman Austin Perdana and we set off in search of Belly Treats.

We were on a mission to track down this address and the light drizzle could not deter us.

As she was driving, Emily explained that Belly Treats is located close to the industrial zone as it’s a bakeshop and not quite a café to welcome walk-in customers.

She said since 2013, Haziqah was fulfilling bake orders while working from home. Then she reached a point when she could no longer cope with the increasing number of orders.

So in 2017, Haziqah decided to set up a bake-shop in partnership with her former classmate, Nur Hasya Zainal Abiddin, and together they could meet more orders and come up with more creative cakes.

Thanks to the intelligent map, we found Belly Treats quite easily even though it’s away from the major thoroughfare.

The cake that started it all, dubbed the 'Boyfriend Cake'
Its modest whitewashed façade has a signboard that simply announced, Belly Treats.

A few ladies seated at a table, are happily tucking into slices of cake – they probably couldn’t wait to get home to taste them – while the only other table in the virtually bare front hall, was vacant.

This is not quite a café, I remind myself as I take in the sight of the glass-fronted chiller filled with a range of attractively decorated cakes and absolutely irresistible pavlova desserts!

No one was manning the counter but we heard voices in the rear – working in the bakery section – so Emily and I take our time to admire the pretty items inside the chiller.

From the labels displayed, we can recognise Macadamia Cheesecake, Burnt Basque Cheesecake, Mars Cheesecake, Thai Milk Tea, Cornflakes Crunch, and Pecan Butterscotch among others, each designed with such generous toppings.

The Belly Treats team of Haziqah Mazlan [Left]
and Nur Hasya Zainal Abiddin with a range
of their baked products at Belly Treats
I was pleasantly surprised to read local flavours in their Durian cake, Ondeh Ondeh and Pandan Gula Melaka cakes!

They have kept it authentic because I can even see a coat of fresh coconut flakes on the Ondeh Ondeh cake and drizzles of melted Gula Melaka on top of the Pandan Gula Melaka cake!

When Haziqah and Nur Hasya have a few moments to spare, I quiz them about their venture into the cake and bakery business and their experience since they started out together.

The young ladies explained that they were Form Four classmates at SM Teknik Johor Baru and they shared a hobby in baking.

After secondary school, they went their separate ways to pursue further studies and after graduation, Nur Hasya – a Mass Communication grad – worked in Kuala Lumpur for about a year.

Meanwhile, Haziqah, who holds a Degree in Chemical Engineering, was busy at home, fulfilling orders for her cakes.

Drizzles of Gula Melaka on the Pandan Gula Melaka Cake
But it all changed when Haziqah made a special cake to present to her then boyfriend for his birthday. He’s now her husband.

When she posted a photo of this Classic Chocolate Cake made with Cadbury Chocolate on Instagram, she was deluged with positive comments.

While this boosted her confidence and helped her to be more creative in her cake recipes, it also made her work doubly hard to meet all the cake orders she was receiving.

Apparently, Nur Hasya, was also baking from home since 2016 when she came back to JB.

So when these two former classmates reconnected again, all they could talk about was their ideas for baking.

Macadamia Cheesecake
One thing led to another and these home-bakers decided to take their baking to the next level and formed Belly Treats Cake & Bakery.

Initially, the space they rented in Taman Austin Perdana was only for a studio and certainly not for walk-in customers.

But two months after opening their doors, they had no alternative but to put in two tables and a few chairs to let customers – who cannot wait to taste – to sit down and savour their delectable desserts.

I recognised premium brands of quality chocolate like Daim, Mars, Maltesers and Cadbury among others and notice that Belly Treats are not stingy about using these as ingredients to enhance their quality cakes.

“Our pavlova are daily bestsellers,” said Haziqah rather modestly about their popular meringue-based desserts and added that their Chocolate Pavlova, are sold out daily.

Pavlova are made fresh and sold out daily!
Having spied the premium brands of chocolate and generous cake portions, I could understand that prices would also be rather high.

But it’s interesting that customers are also willing to pay the price to enjoy a special treat of their quality, premium and well-presented products.

Belly Treats make every attempt to deliver their products fresh every day and the response to their cakes and cookies has been very encouraging.

But because both Haziqah and Nur Hasya have to be working together in the bakery, they needed help with the daily deliveries to various parts of the city and beyond.

Chocolate Chip Cookies in sealed packets
These IT savvy bakers then made use of social media to communicate their need for help with cake deliveries.

The positive response to their ad helped to set up a network of delivery agents to meet orders from various areas including JB city, Taman Perling, Jalan Tebrau, Bandar Baru Uda, Skudai, Kempas, Ulu Tiram, Kulai and Pasir Gudang.

I cannot help but admire the enterprising spirit of these young bakers who are living their dream of creating special treats to meet the tastes of customers.

From birthdays to weddings and every occasion in between, the team at Belly Treats is busy meeting orders for private parties and special celebrations, often custom-made to the customers’ taste and specifications.

A coating of fresh coconut flakes on Ondeh Ondeh Cake
It looked like Haziqah and Nur Hasya are needed to meet walk-in customers and a delivery agent who arrived to collect a range of orders to distribute in her area, so our chat had to come to a close.

It said a lot about this little bakeshop as more customers trotted in and made a beeline for the chiller to check out its contents.

“But what’s next for Belly Treats?” I asked the baking ladies my final question.

Their winsome smiles spoke volumes. I waited while they looked at each other before telling me that they have plans to relocate to a more central location in the city.

Then they would consider setting up their bakery with café facilities to welcome walk-in customers.

Burnt Basque Cheesecake
Meanwhile they would continue serving customers online and meeting casual walk-ins at their bakeshop.

Emily and I could not leave without buying a Belly Treat each so while she picked a Chocolate Pavlova, I picked a slice of Durian Cake for my mum.

So go on. Give yourself and your family and friends a Belly Treats celebration for your next special occasion!

I visited Belly Treats Cake & Bakery when they were located at Taman Austin Perdana.

BellyTreats is now relocated to No. 16, Ground floor, Jalan Dataran Larkin 5, Dataran Larkin, 80350 Johor Baru. Open daily from 11am to 6pm. Closed on Monday.

For daily updates on the best bakes of the day, check out Instagram page for @bellytreatsjb. Tel: +6011 - 1187 6059.

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