After returning home from Japan heartbroken, a young man becomes an apprentice baker at his great-uncle’s traditional pastry shop. As he struggles to master the art of baking he reflects on his experiences in Japan, which may, in fact, hold the key to reversing the declining fortunes of the family pastry business.
Hsu An-chun, a young Taiwanese man, struggles to get back on his feet after returning home broken-hearted from his working holiday in Japan. Sick of seeing him loafing around the house all day, his mother arranges for him to begin work as an apprentice in his great-uncle’s pastry shop.
Specializing in traditional Taiwanese treats, the shop has hardly changed in the decades since it first opened, even as the tastes of Taiwanese consumers have gradually moved on. His competitors have all closed up shop, but Hsu An-chun’s great-uncle keeps his pastry kitchen going through sheer persistence, and the patronage of a dwindling number of old customers.
As he learns the ropes of the trade, Hsu An-chun wracks his brain for marketing ideas that might improve business. At the same time, his thoughts turn to the contrast between the humble status of Taiwanese pastries like suncakes, and the cultured elegance of those served at the patisserie where he worked in Kyoto. As different as the two might seem at first glance, Hsu An-chun soon discovers they actually have a great deal in common. But will this be enough to bring about a change in fortune for the family business? And will his stubborn great-uncle ever take his ideas seriously?
Navigating between the cultures of Japan and Taiwan, tradition and innovation, and heartache and the promise of new love, Hsu An-chun slowly learns the exacting art of baking and the importance of duty, persistence, and professional pride. This tale of a young man finding his way in the world will delight readers as much with the warmth and levity of its narrative voice as it does with the enticing sights and scents of the pastry kitchen.