“I’m sorry, we’re sold out for now. Maybe, you’ll like to place an order for the next bake?” Regina of Petit Pain chirps to a customer as she calmly keys in the order into the iPad.
This line has become sort of Petit Pain’s refrain to the endless stream of people who step into their bakery only to find out they have missed this round of loaves.
Petit Pain is a small-batch bakery tucked in on the eclectic streets of Joo Chiat. Run by a husband and wife team, Mark and Regina, they produce mostly French-style bread that sells like, well, hotcakes.
The space at Petit Pain is modest and charming, with houseplants that pepper each corner and soft-pop hits crooning from a Marshall speaker. The above is a common sight at Petit Pain, and this usually means you might have a fair shot at pocketing some loaves.
The weekend crowds are a little more ferocious, and you might be disappointed if you don’t show up right at opening time. But hey, you’ll have the wonderful, rich smell of butter permeating the store as your consolation prize.
As a bona fide Eastie that lives in the Katong/Joo Chiat area, I cannot begin to tell you about the gems that litter the area and judging from the popularity, I know I’ve found a good one.
I began my foray in the world of French carbohydrates with the Petit Campagne (S$2.40), which is French sourdough. Made with a combination of 50% stone-ground whole wheat and 10% whole grain rye, expect a loaf that has a pretty good bite.
Plus, Petit Pain makes their sourdough using the Respectus Panis Method, which means minimal starter or yeast is added to the dough and it’s allowed to ferment longer than usual, for 18 hours (give or take).
The long fermentation allows the gluten to develop and web itself better, which gives rise to a more complex flavour than your run-of-the-mill bread.
With bread, one of the first things to look out for is the crust. This one had a beautiful deep-brown golden hue that had a good texture. The Swiss-cheese like crumb pattern is also an indication of excellent gluten development. The bread was elastic, stretchy and good enough to eat on its own, sans butter.
I can only imagine how great it will be, paired with freshly smashed avocado and jammy eggs.
We now move over to what put Petit Pain on the map — the Classic Croissant (S$3). Already, you can see the impressive and defined layering of this little treat. For the uninitiated, croissants might be just another pastry. But in actuality, these crescents are one of the most challenging and difficult pastries to master.
For one, making croissants is a laborious process, one that spans over a couple of days. For Petit Pain, it’s a three-day undertaking with the fermenting and laminating the dough.
For all the viennoiserie newbies, laminating involves repeatedly folding butter into the dough to create very thin alternating layers butter and pastry: the more conscientious and the diligent the baker, the more intricate the layers. Thus, the better the croissant.
Petit Pain knocked it out of the park with their Classic Croissant. Flaky, crispy and buttery without being greasy, you’ll know why people flock to Petit Pain for one of these famous croissants. You’ll end up with a shower full of crumbs (as I have), but it’s all worth the mess.
The Pain Au Chocolat (S$3.50) is another classic you have to try at Petit Pain. The same winning croissant dough but with two sticks of milk chocolate stuffed inside.
I don’t usually gravitate to milk chocolate for fear of that unpleasant waxy finish, but just like their dough, Petit Pain doesn’t skimp the details. The milk chocolate was sweet, smooth and was just melted enough. My only tiny gripe was that I would have liked a smidge more chocolate.
Either way, it was a finely-executed classic French viennoiserie roll.
The Apple Danish (S$3.80), while not typically French, was the ultimate crowd-pleaser. This hot pocket was also dusted with a generous amount of sanding sugar for crunch and just a little hint of cinnamon.
For the filling, we have a mixture of red and green apples for a well-balanced serving of sweetness and tartness. Enveloped in Petit Pain’s croissant dough, it might give a certain Golden Arches a run for their money.
The Shiitake (S$4.5) is one of the only savoury items that is in Petit Pain’s repertoire and features a flatbread with shiitake mushroom slices and onions slivers covered with mozzarella cheese.
A pretty supple dough complete with crispy moreish edges courtesy of the cheese. The shitake provided little pockets of umami while onions supplied some caramelised sweetness that tied everything together. I liked that the flatbread was also a little salty to further emphasise the flavours of the toppings.
It was a simple and straightforward bake that will quell midday hunger pangs.
A look of relief crosses a lady’s face when Regina tells us she can secure her baguettes from the next batch. Not long after, a couple walks in and exclaims loudly ‘Huh, no more already ah?’. Regina shakes her head and they walk out, determined to get hold of some the next day.
I chuckled and thought how apt the name Petit Pain is. Though pronounced as ‘pan’, this bakery does serve up little bouts of pain when you miss their freshly baked goods.
Expected Damage: S$3.80 – S$8 per item
Our Rating: 5 / 5
315 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427566
315 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427566