Lunar New Year is usually a celebratory affair in Singapore, with luxurious feasts shared among family and friends, exchanges of good wishes, Mandarin oranges and red packets, as well as copious amounts of snacking during home visits. Lunar New Year goodies are hence a must-have during these celebrations, but instead of the usual commercial fare, we’ve trawled the island for some talented independent home bakers who personally handcraft each exquisite morsel in small batches. Unique, delicious and made with love, these creations will impress and warm the hearts of your relatives with their ingenuity. Bonus: You get to support small local businesses. Win win.
For quirky, unconventional snacks that thankfully don’t stray too far from the traditional, consider The Bake Theory. Twenty-three-year-old Vivianna Gwee started it in October 2019 while helming a full-time job in the hospitality industry, after realising there weren’t enough alcoholic bakes in the market. These days, she offers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic variations to cater to a wider audience. For LNY, Gwee says that even though she wants to preserve traditional snacks, she also wants to add her own interpretations by infusing relatively unique flavours to appeal to a younger generation. Take your pick from the Black Sesame Pineapple Tarts (S$13 per bottle) that blend the sweetness of the pineapple filling with the nutty fragrance of the black sesame casing; the Salted Gula Melaka Crisps (S$13 per bottle) sprinkled with coconut shavings that’s both sweet and salty; and the Cheesy Bak Kwa Butter Cookies (S$15 per bottle) that comprise cheesy cookies topped with pork floss and bak kwa bits for contrasting textures (warning: highly addictive). You can order via the order form on her Instagram page.
Run by 30-year-old part-time barre instructor Winner Drahma, One Tough Cookie specialises in customised occasion cakes, brownies, Basque Burnt Cheesecakes, and of course, cookies. Her offerings this Lunar New Year are a delight, comprising the Basque Burnt Cheesecake with a homemade orange marmalade that’s creamy and zesty with every bite; melt-in-your-mouth pineapple tarts with homemade juicy pineapple filling; sweet and savoury bak kwa cookies; and scrumptious dark chocolate sea salt cookies. You can purchase the treats individually or get the three cookie flavours as a set, which comes in a stylish Chinois-inspired bucket. Contact details can be found on her Instagram page.
Whiskit started off as a humble home bakery by Chua Chee Keong, a Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo graduate who left his corporate career to pursue his passion for baking. His signature then was the Kaya Ondeh Tart that comprises homemade kaya and ondeh ondeh balls (glutinous rice balls covered in grated coconut) handcrafted with a blend of honey and purple sweet potato. As business grew, he opened a takeaway shop in Kallang Bahru serving locally inspired French pastries. These days, Chua, 42, operates a café at Upper Cross Street with a partner. While no longer a home bakery, Chee Keong still maintains his philosophies from the past by ensuring creations are all handcrafted from scratch with the finest ingredients.
Chua is offering a slew of new locally inspired cookies for Lunar New Year; these include the Ondeh Ondeh Pineapple Tarts (S$22.80 per bottle), Laksa Cookies and Chicken Rice Cookies (both S$18.80 per bottle). For the traditionalist, there’s the Original Signature Pineapple Tarts (S$21.80 per bottle) and Almond Cookies (S$18.80 per bottle). To impress your relatives, try the Orh Nee Gingko Tart (S$48 for 18cm), a creamy concoction that’s offset by the crunchy, buttery crust; or the MSW Durian Ondeh Cake (S$68 for 16cm), which looks deceptively simple on the outset but offers a delicious medley of flavours.
4. Elijah Pies
Known for its picture-perfect pies that are akin to art pieces, Elijah Pies was set up by Elijah Tan, 30, who wanted to satisfy his girlfriend Limin’s sweet tooth. He made his first Nutella pie for her and therein began the inception for Elijah Pies while he was still studying in Singapore Management University. Tan started experimenting with other flavours, going on to launch the exquisite Wild Berry Lavender pie made with real berries and fresh yogurt that has dreamy swirls of purple, and the Pandan Coconut Pie with pandan-infused coconut cream brushed with gula melaka and sprinkled with toasted coconut, among others. Now managing the business full-time, Tan’s new range of mini pies, featuring assorted flavours, are a runaway success, often selling out soon after preorders are open. For Lunar New Year, Elijah is rolling out Mini Pineapple Mandarin Pies, featuring a pineapple-mandarin crémeux recipe with a surprise core of homemade marmalade, topped with fresh buttercream flowers infused with orange essence. They come in boxes of nine for S$23.90 and you can preorder on his Instagram page.
5. What Kueh
As its name suggests, What Kueh specialises in freshly made kuehs and pies that do not contain any artificial colouring or flavouring. Relatively new to the home-baking scene, it was set up by communications manager Deborah Tan-Pink in May 2020 when she wanted to make something for a friend’s birthday during Circuit Breaker. Her friend’s Peranakan mother-in-law urged her to start selling it, and the rest is history. Although her creations are not your typical Lunar New Year goodies, they make great gifts for relatives or as a stunning centrepiece for your reunion feast at home. Choose from the Pandan Kueh Salat that’s made with freshly squeezed pandan extract; the Gula Melaka Kueh Salat with a homemade mix of three types of gula melaka; and the Key Lime Pie made with freshly squeezed lime juice. Each kueh and pie is S$60 (including delivery) and limited slots are available for order on her Instagram page.
Another new entry is No. 29 Bakehouse, which specialises in pound cakes, cookies and decadent brownies (think biscoff brownies and Nutella brownies). Founder Jaylyn, 29, decided to tap into her passion for baking during the Circuit Breaker period last year, and currently juggles her baking duties while working full-time in the finance industry. “I feel happy whenever I smell the fragrance of fresh bakes wafting through the house. It brings peace to me, no matter how tired I feel,” she says. Four cookie variations will be available for the special occasion: Original Vanilla Butter Cookies; Coffee Butter Cookies; Pandan Butter Cookies; and Orange Butter Cookies (prices range from S$10 to S$10.50 per 200g). All cookies are baked with her own concocted recipes. The bakes are also less sweet as she only puts in half the amount of sugars typically required, with no added preservatives. You can place your orders via her Instagram account.
A humble operation that began late 2019, this home bakery is run by a mother-daughter pair. It produces mostly old school cream cakes and tarts (think swirls of chocolate and overflowing with fruits). For Lunar New Year, it will be offering four treats: Pineapple tarts; honey cornflakes; cashew nut cookies; and almond cookies (prices range from S$8 to S$18). To reserve, book via its Instagram page.
8. Wicked Whisk
Specialising in to-die-for rich and gooey brownies, Wicked Whisk was started by Kengli, a 60-year-old mother of four who has a full-time job in IT. Her brownies are always freshly baked using the best handpicked ingredients, with tantalising flavours such as a peanut butter soft centre and chunks of peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough; and fresh strawberries and strawberry preserves. Kengli’s special for the season will thrill those who are looking for added variety. Featuring four flavours in one brownie slab (S$55 for an 8 x 8 inch pan), you’d get to enjoy her classic brownie with Valrhona cocoa, pineapple brownie with homemade pineapple jam, Brookie brownie with burnt butter chocolate chip cookie dough and red velvet Oreo brownie in just one order. Delivery is free for the whole of February and you can contact her via her Instagram account.