The Singaporean Bakery Deconstructed: Part 1
Most of the bakeries here are self-help, so, let’s grab a little, pink lunch tray, a pair of tongs, and here we go….
1. Kaya – Don’t be dismayed by this suspicious jade-green gel. Kaya is a simple custard made with egg, coconut milk and pandan. Ranging from bright orange to lime green, it is used as a filling or spread on top of pastries and is an absolutely delightful discovery.
2. Cream Cheese Raisin Bun – Gooey and soft seem to be the textural preferences here and I’m all on-board. This saucer-shaped pastry with raisins and a cream cheese has become my personal favorite. Rather than traditionally European desserts, which tend to be flakey and full of butter, there is a clean simplicity to the sweet hamburger bun-like roll.
3. Butter Cake – The pound cake’s Asian brother, this is a safe bet with a cup of kopi (aka: coffee).
4. The “That Can’t Be A Hotdog” Hotdog – Often disguised under the name, “Vienna Sausage,” or even “Chicken Sausage Boat,” these imposter-dogs are conveniently pre-placed in the bun and decorated with zigzag lines of bright colored condiments. Little buns filled with tuna and other meats also line the shelves. If you are lucky, you can find one topped with “chicken floss.” I can’t truly knock them because I’ve never tried them, and admittedly, I’m not planning to anytime soon. Aside from my apprehension about the entire concept of a “Chicken Sausage Boat,” meat sitting in 80-degree heat all day makes me a bit nervous.
5. Donut- If for our first trip together you’d like to stick to the familiar, donuts make a cameo in nearly all the Singaporean bakeries. Of the raised (rather than cake donut) variety, these donuts have more bread-like quality than their western counterparts. Typically, they are tossed in sugar or chocolate glazed.
Side Note To Lauren:
Lauren is my co-partner in a scheme to build a world donut empire…although I’m pretty sure she’s just in it for the donuts and the prospect of a simple life, selling goodness and cheer from a renovated gas station. Lauren, you and I should consider starting our venture in Singapore. We make some Kaya and green tea extract and we’ve got ourselves the foundation of an empire.
6. Yam – Singaporeans cross the nebulous line between savory and sweet with alarming fluidity. The Donut Family talks to Mr. Chicken Bun, and sometimes, they even have dinner parties with Fish Paste. So, when I bit into the mildly sweet, yam-filled pastry pocket, my brain had trouble compartmentalizing. Was this dessert? Or was I to eat this alongside my lunch? While, yam is often served warm with coconut milk and palm sugar as a dessert, this was a different creature. So, I decided to embrace the yam for it was – yummy.
That’s just a snapshot of my rudimentary knowledge of a Singaporean bakery, but my explorations are ongoing and there will be many more snacks to come. I’ve long avoided the meat floss and prawn puffs, but for you, my dear readers, I just might take a bite…..