“Is it ‘skon’ or ‘skone’?” my cousin asks on a balmy Thursday afternoon as we made our way over to Cheryl Scones.
“It’s ‘skon’, right?” I answer tentatively, and ‘The Great Scone Debate’ rages. Though, to be fair, it’s different from the scone versus biscuit debacle which I’m sure we’ll explore in another article. You’ll be surprised how this distinctly British baked good (though according to Wikipedia it has its origins in Scotland), can rile up such an impassioned discourse.
A scone is unlike its debonair peers on the tiered cake stand at posh hotels. Lumpy with love-handles spilling every which way, the scone is the sad little sop next to the dashing raspberry tart or the sophisticated macaron at high tea. This cushiony golden pillow is not the fairest in all the land, but those buttery, feathery folds with a heaping spoonful of clotted cream and jam will make you forget any snooty pastry.
But you won’t find any clotted cream at Cheryl Scones or even any eggs in their bakes (hold your gasps till the end, please). This little bakery that could is located along Crawford Lane and is an endearing hole-in-the-wall-under-the-block-shop that will have your heart wrapped around its French butter clutches if you’re not careful. I would know because clearly, I have fallen prey.
What I tried
That Thursday afternoon, I found the eponymous Cheryl tending meticulously to her thriving rosemary plants basking gleefully in the sun. I’m welcomed by her husband, Dan, who ushers me into the quaint bakery that is Cheryl Scones.
The interior is nothing fancy with limited seats and mismatched memorabilia; it doesn’t even begin to compare to the more intricate and somewhat stuffy tea rooms of London or the hallowed (albeit dated) halls of St. Regis. Rather, it’s an outlook so distinctly Singaporean, you can’t help but feel right at home.
Apart from the Classic Scone (S$2.80), like many homegrown bakeries, Cheryl Scones plays to our penchant for the new, exciting, and flavour varieties which a haughty food writer might scoff at—you know we get such a bad reputation sometimes. This one, however, likes to try the wares first before passing haughty judgement herself.
You would think it’s easy to whip up a batch of scone just like that but what most amateurs conjure are parched rounds that lodge uncomfortably in your throat. It is also a timely reminder that at some places, they cost upwards of S$4.50 apiece. Shame, I say, shame.
A scone is a buttery thing that, I repeat, doesn’t crumble, so when I pried the Classic Scone in half and smeared it with butter, I was relieved that there was nary a fallout. Delicate, with a feathery light crumb, you’ll be surprised how many hotels can’t even meet half of what this was.
I was pretty satisfied with this scone, though in it’s technical prowess, it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi that would persuade me to go for seconds.
The same can’t be said about the Thyme Double Cheese Scone (S$3.80)—a herbaceous, cheesy number that made me swoon. Here, the crumbs are a little looser but more springy with flecks of delicate, lemony thyme that melded well with the cheddar and parmesan cheese.
Even now, I think about having this savoury number on a lazy afternoon with a strong cup of English Breakfast.
The next scone comes in guns blazing in a bright vermillion colour that Cousin Violet or Dowager Countess of Grantham (as she would like it) from Downton Abbey would no doubt cast a withering look, accompanied with a scathing remark.
Bastardisation of any product seems to be emblematic of any Singaporean brand (here’s looking at you Basque cheesecake), and most times, I share Cousin Violet’s sentiments. But the SG Laska Scone (S$3.80) proved to be one of those moments where I gladly allow my worlds and principles to collide.
A creation that Cheryl is immensely proud of and tight-lipped about, this fragrant and spicy (yes, spicy in a scone) was moreish and well-balanced. It was hard not to like, with the scent of the curry leaves so meticulously controlled and doled out with the piquant belacan—yes, I am in love with a laksa scone.
The Avocado Pandan Scone (S$3.75) is another local number that might find a place in your very purist heart. It’s a soft highlighter green scone that demands to be drizzled liberally with gula melaka, and though I eat avo-toast with the same exact hue on the regular, I was less enthused by this iteration.
With such a rich fatty fruit like avocado, you need a liberal amount of salt to bring out that subtle fruitiness and nuttiness which gula melaka does not. Absent salt, all you get is a boring, placid thing that doesn’t know what it wants to be. Perhaps, a little fine-tuning to the muted avocado scone would turn the flavours up a notch.
One of the specialities of Cheryl Scone is that they pride themselves on being a wee bit healthier, which is why there is no clotted cream at this joint and, honestly, I wasn’t missing it all that much. Certain quarters might scoff at this glaring absence, but hey, it’s 2020, and we all need to take extra care of our body, ohkur.
Cheryl Scones feels like a well-kept secret that only the residents of Crawford Lane and, I suppose, a select few so gleefully have kept mum about all this time. After all, eating a laksa scone with butter under a block of flats with the motley crew of aunties doing the same seems like the most Singaporean one can do. And I won’t have it any other way.
Expected Damage: S$2.80 – S$3.80 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
Blk 466, Crawford Lane, #01-04, Singapore 190465
Blk 466, Crawford Lane, #01-04, Singapore 190465