It’s an old – but arguably true – saying that Singaporeans travel to eat. When picking our holiday destinations, researching our trips and charting out our daily itineraries, food certainly factors into the equation.
While you might not be able to tear into freshly baked almond croissants along the streets of Paris, feast on all manner of matcha-flavoured confections in Japan or indulge in a lamington on a sunny beach day in Australia anytime soon, a number of artisanal bakeries around Singapore are dishing out creative desserts inspired by the flavours of these destinations – so you can satisfy your sugar cravings without leaving the country.
1. Spain: Basque burnt cheesecake from Bakery Brera & Fine Foods
Despite the humble location – tucked under a block of flats near Empress Market – Bakery Brera & Fine Foods boasts one of the hottest commodities in town: its famously dense and decadent Basque burnt cheesecake made using premium ingredients. The crustless cheesecake variety – or tarta de queso – hails from a San Sebastián restaurant named La Viña in Spain’s picturesque Basque Country. You can try your luck at nabbing a slice by popping into the bakery at around 9am (which is roughly when the cakes are rolled out of the oven) or place an order in advance via their website.
2. Japan: Matcha cruffin from Keong Saik Bakery
Whether it’s incorporated into a cake or blended into a latte, few flavours have the uncanny ability to instantly transport you to Japan quite like matcha. While there is certainly no shortage of dessert cafés in Singapore offering Japanese or matcha-flavoured delights, we have a soft spot for the creativity that went into coming up with the matcha cruffin from Keong Saik Bakery. The scrumptious pastry – a cross between a croissant and a muffin – comes with a silky smooth and thick matcha ganache that has a deep, earthy and slight and pleasing bitter flavour, while still managing to satisfy one’s sweet tooth.
3. Australia: Lamington from Baker & Cook
Perhaps Australia’s most iconic dessert – though some Kiwis will claim that it in fact originated in New Zealand – lamingtons are normally made from squares of sponge cake that are dipped in icing or a glaze (usually chocolate) before being rolled in desiccated coconut. Baker & Cook – which specialises in Australian and New Zealand bakes – offers chocolate and strawberry varieties, both of which come coated with a generous amount of fragrant coconut shavings. Their chocolate rendition is simultaneously moist and fluffy, with an optimal ratio of cake to chocolate to coconut – perfect for an afternoon treat.
4. France: Almond croissant from Mother Dough
The classic almond croissant is a staple at practically every single bakery in France, and with good reason. This sweet breakfast pastry is adored for its fragrant, nutty filling sandwiched within a crispy exterior, offering a lovely textural contrast that ensures you start your day on a sweet note. You can find a delicious rendition at artisanal bakery Mother Dough in Kampong Glam. Their signature double-baked almond croissants are a three-day labour of love, made with dough that undergoes a 12-hour fermentation process. The croissants boast a filling with just the right amount of sweetness and come studded with crunchy almond flakes.
5. Malaysia: Pandan coconut tart from Tarte by Cheryl Koh
Pandan and coconut feature prominently in Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean sweets, as well as in other cuisines in the Southeast Asian region. In Malaysia, the flavours are found in the beloved kuih serimuka – a double-layered cake that consists of glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk, topped with a layer of green pandan-flavoured custard. For a novel take on these flavours that fuses both East and West, there’s the pandan coconut tart from Tarte by Cheryl Koh, helmed by the winner of Asia’s Best Pastry Chef at the 2016 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. The eye-catching confection comes with a delightful buttery pastry base, thick pandan curd and a dusting of perfectly toasted coconut.