It seems there's always a good reason to indulge in our love for Basque burnt cheesecake, not to mention its many variations

This story was first published on May 15, 2020, and updated on February 26, 2021.

Perhaps it is its delectably modest construction that we are finding hard to resist, but more than thirty years after La Viña bar-restaurant in San Sebastián, Spain, first proffered its crustless experiment, the love of Basque burnt cheesecake has spread across the continents to become one of the most replicated baked treats. It's even found its way onto the menus of some of the world’s best restaurants. But that is partly because this unassuming beauty is also deceptively complex to make—easy enough to put together but far from effortless to perfect.

Cooked at a uniquely high temperature, the intended result (if La Viña's cheesecake is the applied standard) is a signature scorched crown that hides an enticingly gooey cream cheese centre.

And this is not surprisingly one the main reasons why there are so many variations of the burnt cheesecake available today. Inspiring home bakers and professionals alike, alternatives range from the expectedly rustic amalgamation that sometimes includes the addition of a Spanish cheese, to one that resembles a large tart, crumbly crust and all.

It’s not new to the food-crazed here in Singapore, but oddly enough, it has taken the recent stay-home notice (to combat the covid-19 pandemic) to reignite a nation's penchant for this international hit. A we still can't get enough of it. Here’s a rundown of the island's more popular picks.

(Related: Why The Revived Bread Course At Today's Top Restaurants Deserves Its Place In The Limelight)

1. Lolla

The menu at this humble small-plates joint takes inspiration from the flavours of Spain and the Mediterranean, but its version of the burnt cheesecake was only made available on its recent takeaway menu. It does boast the expected meltingly soft centre. And, to boot, it is made using four types of Spanish cheeses, including the said pressed cheese (idiazábal) from the Basque country. Though still more sweet than cheesy, this is one of the better ones we’ve tried, and which stands out with its lush yet balanced profile of flavours. Click here to order.

Lolla | 22 Ann Siang Road | 6423 1228

2. Esquina

As excited as we were to learn of this feted modern Spanish restaurant’s burnt cheesecake, we were not expecting it to have a crust. It also flaunts a less burnt crown, with the kitchen preferring the allure of a burnished gilt finish; though we have to admit it looks absolutely scrumptious. It more than delivers on the taste and texture. Those who love a good tart will appreciate the delicate crust, while those anticipating the molten centre will surely get their reward. What stands out most for us is the cake’s creamy heart, made with a combination of cheeses as well as (we suspect) a Spanish blue cheese. Click here to order.


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3. Olivia Restaurant and Lounge

As far as creamy cheesecakes with a crust go (an almond sablé tart shell, to be precise), this champion of Mediterranean cuisine by el Bulli alumni, chef Alain Devahive, is credited for rekindling the passion Singapore has for a truly indulgent burnt cheesecake when it opened just over a year ago. This family recipe ticks all the boxes: beautifully caramelised on the top, a lava-like interior and an intensely flavourful one at that, thanks to a beautifully contrasting mix of gently sweetened creamy cheeses and a heady savoury kick from the addition of Valdeon, a cheese made from a blend of goat and cow milk from the province of León in northwest Spain. Click here to see the menu.

4. Bakery Brera

Perhaps more revelled for its flavoured cruffins, its adaptation of the burnt cheesecake is closer to the crustless Basque style. This crowd-pleaser doesn’t feature a provocative hit of blue cheese, but it is just as lust-worthy. Its top spots a heavier burn and its centre isn’t the most oozy. But creamy it is undoubtedly so, made with three different cheeses, though not so much that it would be hard to have an entire slice at the end of a hearty meal. No surprise that it just introduced a limited-edition burnt cheese croissant. Best to walk in early in the morning to secure your fix. Email to enquire or place an order.

Bakery Brera & Fine Foods | #01-05, 8 Empress Road S(260008) | 6492 5428

5. Paparch Cheesecake

A hit on social media since the last circuit breaker, this delivery-only, halal option comes in a seven-inch cake. It doesn’t have a heavily scorched top, but it does boast a genuinely molten cream cheese heart. It one of a few popular home-baked varieties that have gained a huge following since early last year. Orders for March are currently sold out. Click here for updates on when you can order for April deliveries.

6. The Fabulous Baker Boy

A relatively new addition to this celebrated hot spot for all-day dining and some of the best cakes you can get on the island, this version is more of a classic cheesecake. It follows a recipe by the chef-owner’s friend—hence its quirky moniker Printer Ann’s Burnt Cheesecake—and boasts a creamy but not molten texture, and beautifully spot-on flavour profile. It only uses cream cheese but while the recipe is simple enough, the chef will attest that it’s not easy to master. The Fabulous Baker Boy recently reopen in at Aliwal Arts Center. Click here to see shop online.

The Fabulous Baker Boy | 28 Aliwal St, #01-01 S(199918) | 8951 7716

7. Keong Saik Bakery

This little bakery-café has built a name for itself since it opened in 2017 proffering inspired variations of classic viennoiserie and other European baked goods. Creative imaginings such as it “sor hei”—which means "combing up" in Cantonese and resembles an crafty hair bun (pun intended, we’re sure)—and cakes like the matcha swiss roll and pandan cheesecake. Last year, they introduced their version of the burnt cheesecake, which uses four types of cheese, and it’s still as popular. Click here to order. 

Keong Saik Bakery | 41 Keong Saik Road S(089146) | 6909 3199

8. The Whisking Well

After a recent name change, this humble bakery that also works with the Singapore outpost of Tokyo's Haritts Donuts and Coffee serves up a range of popular confections. From fudge brownies and crinkle cookies to more inspired bakes, such as lemon-raspberry loaf and flavoured burnt cheesecakes. Of course, a hot item on the modest menu is it's version of the original crust-free burnt cheesecake, which uses three types of cream cheese from different countries (such as Japan, Australia and France) to achieve its signature blend and flavour profile. The texture appears creamy and less oozy. Creative alternatives include the Latte Burnt Cheescake, MSW Durian Burnt Cheesecake and a Strawberry Jam Drop variation. Visit its new website for the latest menu and to place an order. 

9. Grub Burger Bistro

If you're not already a fan of its kaya burnt cheesecake—a balanced pairing of the coconut creaminess of kaya with velvety cream cheese—there's no better time to experience first hand what cheesecake lovers here are raving about. It's also a good opportunity to see how it fares against its version of the Basque burnt cheesecake. Both have a soft and creamy (but not gooey) centre, so it holds well and you can take your time to savour it. Cheesecake Care Packages are also available. Click here to place your order. 

10. Teaspoon of Love

This specialty tea shop and bakery does a delectably fragrant alternatives that showcases what they know best. Introduced last lear, their Da Hong Pao tea-infused burnt cheesecake is a first of its kind in Singapore. Sourced from Wuyishan, China, the dark roasted tea boasts notes of ripe peach, wood and cinnamon, which lend an elegant richness and sweet smokiness to the tangy and not-too-heavy cheesecake. Click here to order. 

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