Who better to ask to recommend her favorite locally-owned cafes and bakeries than my talented friend, Kay? She’s a coffee lover, a shoe collector, a food stylist, and a photographer.
So, without further ado, to Kay…
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Now, I can bake and do bake pretty often. But whenever I’m in Holland Village, off I troop to Plain Vanilla Bakery. The first time I was there, I picked up a sampler of four cupcakes—red velvet, dark chocolate ganache, cinnamon brown sugar, and chocolate hazelnut. I ate the dark chocolate ganache one as soon as I got home, at room temperature, and it was seriously good! (I saved the rest for after dinner.) My mom, who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth, said she’d split one between my dad and her. Turns out, my dad didn’t end up getting a bite! The sponge cake is light and fluffy and it’s sweet enough to be a treat or a dessert but not so sweet that you can’t eat one (or two) at a go. They’re at 34A Lorong Mambong (on the second floor opposite Harry’s Bar and above El Patio Mexican Restaurant & Wine Bar). What I love about Plain Vanilla is their sustainability efforts. Their cupcake boxes are made from recyclable paper, they reuse jars for storing, recycle empty milk cartons and glass bottles, and (my favourite part) don’t provide carrier bags. I brought my own Tesco’s ladybird jute bag but they have twine if you need it.
Drips Bakery Café (82 Tiong Poh Road) isn’t really new but, oh boy, are their tarts good! I’ve been there a handful of times and while their coffee is perfectly alright, I have to say that their tarts are absolutely amazing. My favourite is the macadamia nut tart. Usually, in this humidity, nuts lose their crunchiness pretty quickly if left out in the open. Drips has sealed in the goodness and crunch with a glaze. The result? An amazingly good crunch with each bite. Drips can be quite slow at times so don’t head there if you’re in a big hurry.
Having tried both sweet and savoury at Forty Hands at 78 Yong Siak Street, I’m pleased to say I am a fan of both! Their coffee is one of the best I’ve had in Singapore; it’s an almost-sweet roast that begs not to be tainted with sugar. Their dark chocolate tart is gorgeously dark and rich and not-too-sweet. Their Jaffa pound cake is a great teacake (but varies from day to day). The last time I went there for brunch, I had eggs en cocotte. I thought it’d be a more French style en cocotte but it was two poached eggs sitting on a bed of truffled mushrooms and wilted spinach, served with a wedge of toasted crusty bread. Oh, it was so good! It’s always crowded during the weekends so be prepared to wait.
Last Sunday, my friend Jeanne and I joined the long queue at Tiong Bahru Bakery (right beside The Orange Thimble) at 56 Eng Hoon Street. The boulangerie smelled amazing and most of the line were queueing for take-out. There’s no distinction in lines for dining-in and take-out and we got to the front fairly quickly. Because their croissants and pain au chocolat sell out so quickly, there’s a steady stream of oven-fresh ones moving from the kitchen out. Both the croissant and pain au chocolat were incredible—fresh, buttery, and flakey. The pain au chocolat had a chocolate filling that was still warm! The mocha that I had was very good. It was more like coffee with cocoa than chocolate. (It was a little on the pricey side at $6.80 for a tiny little cup.)
Finally, the cakes at All Good Things at 7 Rodyk Street aren’t very sweet at all. I had the lemon almond cake and the soufflé cheesecake. I had really wanted a Victorian sponge with raspberry jam but it wasn’t meant to be. All Good Things do a variety of gluten-free baked goods and they are very sparing with the sugar for those who don’t like their cakes too sweet. Alison Tse of Popcorn Stories is the chief baker and she was hard at work on a custom order cake that day.
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Dear readers, do you have a recommended cafe or bakery not on this list?
(Additional credits: Photographs by Kay of kayspace.)