There are a few things that can be defined as a ‘very Singaporean thing’. There is the frenetic clamouring for McGriddles, a worrying addiction to bubble tea, and perhaps one of our most exemplary traits, using a pack of tissue as the ultimate chope. Well, another ‘very Singaporean thing’ that I love to keep a lookout for is the playful and incongruent combination of things.
Like say, a pair of super hypebeast Adidas sliders in a hawker centre or teh ping baggy swinging along the hallowed halls of MBS. They’re everywhere if you look hard enough. One of the latest I’ve found is a French bakery, Maison Sucrée, situated under an HDB block and flanked by a prata shop. I know, talk about juxtaposition.
I walked up to the bakery, already slightly smitten with the rich blue exterior and gold accents. It was certainly reminiscent of hole-in-the-wall bakeries you see in Paris. I wondered whether this would be a little corner of Paris right in the heart of Redhill. Well, there was only one way to find out.
What I tried
We’ll begin with my favourite, the viennoiserie section of Maison Sucrée, which spells of butter and sheets of laminated dough. A trinity of classics stood before me on achingly beautiful navy marbled plates. We have the unmistakable Croissant (S$3.50), Chocolate Croissant (S$4), and the Almond Croissant (S$4.50).
Yes, it’s true when one ventures into the world of baked goods, you might be bombarded with pedantic French words like viennoiserie and patisserie that require a good amount of saliva and hacking cough when you pronounce them.
Without boring you too much with semantics, viennoiserie simply refers to baked goods made with white flour and active yeast cultures, which means the dough would rise quickly for that trademark flakiness.
As the word suggests, patisserie consists of all those sweet, delicate, and colourful pastries that usually hours of painstaking work. Luckily for me, Maison Sucrée has goods from these two categories.
Alright, back to the matter at hand. When one is any croissant, you’ll want to look out for the intricate, defined layers of dough on that bronzed half-moon. Here, the layers are satisfactory enough with a crispy top that promises a shower of crumbs. I do appreciate how incredibly challenging croissants are to make, throw in the heat and humidity, and it might seem like an impossible task.
So, I do consider these croissants somewhat of a feat already. That being said, I did find them slightly greasy to the touch. However, the inside proved supple and elastic, which put it a notch higher than your average neighbourhood bakery product. It’s a good effort and something I wouldn’t mind having every other morning.
Now, between the Chocolate Croissant and Almond Croissant, I would suggest going for the latter. If you’ve read my dream of a Starbucks article, you’ll know I have become quite enamoured with the likes of an almond croissant.
At Maison Sucrée, it takes on a more elevated and refined presence. The almond paste, nutty, rich and buttery, while the slivered almonds are crunchy and sweet. All I needed was a cup of strong black coffee, and that’s an afternoon made.
Now, onto the stunners of the lot: the pastries. A debonair number, the Paris-Brest (S$8.50) presents as a ring of choux pastry filled with tan hazelnut cream dusted with powdered sugar and fitted with slivered almonds on top. The praline cream behaves like a well-mannered debutante who is never too loud with hazelnut in those carefully controlled twirls against that pillowy choux pastry. Indeed, this dainty rendition of the quintessential dessert was pleasant and rather refreshing.
Elsewhere, Maison Sucrée shines with their Lemon Meringue (S$8). The Lemon Meringue might seem overdone, but I take it as a trusty barometer to measure any patisserie. A common pitfall for lesser pastry shops is not paying attention to the crust. A soft, soggy crust is the ultimate culinary faux pas, which Maison Sucrée thankfully does not make.
A solid, fragrant tart shell that requires some muscle to cut reveals a marigold-coloured lemon curd saddled with a thick, cloud-like meringue. While everything is well with the tart shell, the lemon curd could have done with a touch more acid for further lift and brightness.
Close to taping out, the Sticky Date Pudding (S$10) served as the finale to my pastry filled afternoon. A soft and warm Medditarean date pudding came luxuriating in a glorious butterscotch pool, then topped with earl grey ice cream. She was a sight for sore eyes indeed.
Luscious deep caramel notes from the butterscotch mingled with toffee-like sweetness from the date pudding, making every calorie worth it. It’s indulgent for sure, but not cloying that you’ll put down the spoon after two servings. You know I’m not one to say no to ice cream, but in this case, I found the earl grey ice cream slightly superfluous no matter how lovely it may be.
As I was sipping my tea, taking in the languid pace of the estate, I see a woman trot off excitedly with her bags of Maison Sucrée swinging by her hips. Indeed, this is what Executive Pastry Chef Elzuan Japar and Head Baker Tommy Lim set out to do when they opened Maison Sucrée. It is to feed the community and to serve as a benchmark for Muslim-owned French bakeries.
So, don’t be surprised when you see your favourite neighbourhood uncle talking quite loudly while snacking on a flaking croissant. It’s just one of those ‘very Singaporean’ juxtapositions we are known for.
Expected damage: S$4 – S$8 per pax
Our Rating: 3 / 5
63B Lengkok Bahru, #01-362, Singapore 152063
63B Lengkok Bahru, #01-362, Singapore 152063