Classic western pastries with an Asian twist fresh from the ovens of these homegrown bakeries

We can't resist our sweets, even more so when these western bakes have been given a delectable Asian twist. Thankfully, we have no shortage of homegrown bakeries who continue to satiate our sweet tooth with imaginative creations ranging from pandan burnt cheesecake, mango calamansi tart to coffee gula melaka chiffon cake. Here are some of our favourites this year.

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1. Pineapple Financier

She’s known for her acting chops but local actress Jeanette Aw made a serious name for herself in the pastry scene with the May opening of her patisserie Once Upon a Time. The Le Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef offers her signature pineapple financier, which she created during Chinese New Year. It’s a hybrid of the quintessential financier “fashioned like gold bars” and is one of her favourite festive snacks. Though Aw is understandably cagey about the recipe, she reveals that she uses “good-quality butter” that is browned to release a beautiful and nutty aroma. Soft inside and crisp outside, the almond cake perfectly complements the “surprise element” of pineapple jam at its core made from scratch and mixed with ground almonds to offset the sweetness with some nuttiness. Buy here.

Once Upon a Time | 35 Hamilton Road #01-04 S(209204) | 8781 9093 (Whatsapp messages only)

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2. Coffee Gula Melaka Chiffon Cake

Old-school bakery Chin Mee Chin shuttered in 2018 when the original owner retired, only for it to be resurrected under lifestyle brand Ebb & Flow Group in July this year. Now helmed by executive chef Maxine Ngooi, who is also behind the popular pastry shop Tigerlily Patisserie, the iconic coffee shop is back at its original location in Katong. While co-owner Ngooi has preserved most of the traditional recipes loved by many—white bread, kaya toast and luncheon meat buns, to name a few—she has tapped into her French culinary background to introduce contemporary favourites that appeal to the younger generation. A highlight is the coffee gula melaka chiffon cake, which brings together two Singaporean staples: kopi and chiffon cake. “Coffee gula melaka is a uniquely Singaporean drink that is very popular these days, while chiffon cake has always been well-loved by Singaporeans,” explains Ngooi, who has tweaked the classic chiffon cake recipe by replacing sugar with gula melaka and infusing it with an original brewed roasted Nanyang coffee. The result? A delicious moist and spongy chiffon cake elevated with a molassy sweetness from the gula melaka with some hints of bitterness from the kopi. Available at the outlet.

Chin Mee Chin | 204 East Coast Road, S(428903) | hello@chinmeechin.sg

3. Orh Blanc Tart

Germaine Li and Joy Chiam, the founders of homegrown French dessert store Pâtisserie Clé, came up with the signature Orh Blanc Tart in 2017. Chiam shares, “We were attending the pastry school Ferrandi Paris and the Singapore Embassy in France invited us to create a Singapore-inspired dessert for an event.” Both being of Teochew descent, they derived inspiration from the traditional sweet yam paste, and combined it with the French Mont Blanc dessert. The baked tart shell is made from scratch and filled with a smooth and luscious yam paste blended with coconut and sugar to achieve a creamy consistency. It’s also worth noting that unlike the traditional orh nee, no lard is used in order to maintain its clean taste. For textural contrast, candied ginkgo nuts are sprinkled on the tart before another layer of fresh whipped cream and yam paste is added. Chiam enthuses that the dessert remains popular with customers who like “the freshness of the yam and coconut milk without being too sweet”. Buy here.

Pâtisserie Clé | 29 Paya Lebar Road, Paya Lebar Office, Center, #01-01, S(409005) | 6983 4629

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4. Pandan Burnt Cheesecake

Keong Saik Bakery founder Tan Yuzhong loves incorporating local flavours into his repertoire of bakes. This includes his remake of the classic burnt cheesecake with a pandan twist. “I love the aroma of pandan and have used it in many other products such as the Chendol Delight and Ondeh Ondeh Croissant Cube,” enthuses Tan. In this case, he blends the pandan leaves with coconut cream before cooking the mixture and incorporating it into his secret cheesecake batter recipe. The concoction is then baked to a precise timing, ensuring it achieves the desired piquant cheesiness and caramelised top and bottom that burnt cheesecakes are famous for. The addition of the pandan coconut enhances the fragrant aroma and balances out the richness. Buy here.

Keong Saik Bakery | 33 Keong Saik Road, S(089140) | 9021 9626

5. Mango Calamansi Tart

Tarts are a classic western pastry that have been given an Asian twist by Singapore doyenne, Violet Oon. One of her versions still comprises the thick and crumbly sourdough crust but it has been elevated with a sweet-citrusy filling of mango calamansi curd. Topped with a generous lashing of flambeed meringue for good measure. Buy here.

Violet Oon (multiple outlets) | 2 Orchard Turn, #03-22 ION Orchard, S(238801) | 9834 9935

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