Last Updated: February 20, 2021
They say dreams don’t come true, but that afternoon when the waiters came out carrying 17 cakes procession-style at The Fabulous Baker Boy like I was Marie-Antoinette, I knew the Eurythmics were right when they sang, “sweet dreams are made of this”.
After the closure of their iconic outlet at Fort Canning, The Fabulous Baker Boy is here with a comeback even bigger than Cher at Aliwal Arts Center. Therefore, it was fitting that my next head-to-head be right here, where the cakes are stacked high (a little closer to God that way), just like their towering and ever passionate owner, head baker Juwanda Hassim.
This head-to-head might just be the longest I’ve ever done with a total of 17 cakes, though as it turns out, I haven’t even scratched the surface. Chef Juwanda divulged that he has a total of 48 cakes made with 17 types of sponges—fingers crossed there will be a part two.
As per tradition, I have brought another person along with me for fairness and whatnot. This time, it’s Basil, one of our newest writers, that will take up the gauntlet of trying the 17 wonderful cakes from The Fabulous Baker Boy.
Nicole: We begin with one of the OGs that started it all, the Californian Apple Stacker (S$9). An impressive four-tiers made with layers of tender spiced sponge. Who knew apple cake could be so good? Made with tart Granny Smiths and balanced with Fuji Apples, each bite was sweet as The Fabulous Baker Boy’s beginnings.
Basil: Our cake escapade kicks off with this well-balanced slice. Here, there’s a moist, light sponge that pairs aptly with the heady fragrance of apple. It’s not overly sweet, which I appreciate.
Nicole: Each cake at The Fabulous Baker Boy promises to be prettier than the last. This Green Tea Praline (S$9.50) cake is no exception, a thin layer of matcha buttercream surrounds a dense butter sponge filled with almond praline Swiss meringue buttercream.
I did find the sponge just ever-so-slightly parched, but I was willing to overlook for the sake of that almond praline. All you need is a cup of coffee, and afternoon tea is set.
Basil: Green tea lovers, I reckon that the Green Tea Praline is right up your alley. Unlike the Californian Apple Stacker from before, this sponge is slightly denser. A nutty aroma accompanies the fragrance of the praline cream, which makes for a dependable cake that’ll please the crowd at your next birthday celebration.
Nicole: Our first Diva cake of the afternoon and it’s the incomparable Ms Celine Dion (S$9.50). It’s an elegant white chocolate and macadamia sponge cake that’s filled with a bright red raspberry compote that oozes ever so delightfully as you run your fork through. This makes all the wrongs in the world right, and you’ll want to be all by yourself to truly savour this.
Basil: Much like this diva, the flavours here do demand some revelry. I succumb to its allure of nutty macadamia notes and pleasantly tart hints of raspberry. I’m quite entranced even as I’m writing this. I guess my heart really will go on.
Nicole: It would be remiss to call The Hummingbird (S$9.50) a banana cake because it’s not. It’s in a league of its own. A spiced, warm cinnamon-y banana cake filled with pecans and pineapple makes banana bread seem rather pedestrian and basic.
Basil: The Hummingbird is fruit-forward. The banana and pineapple sit front and centre, and works as a sweet finish to your meal. Yet, I find this one more forgettable, especially when put up against The Fabulous Baker Boy’s other cake offerings.
Nicole: Anything with pistachio gets a vote from me and already a fast favourite. Named after Juwanda’s godparents, THE OGGS (S$10) is as complex as it is sweet. A butter torte cake baked with pears and filled with salted caramel, it’s sweet, salty and even fruity all at once. That fragrant pistachio buttercream makes having this cake a genuinely transcendent experience. All cakes wish they tasted this good.
Basil: Cakes should strive to be as aggressively flavourful as this one. THE OGGS is a wonderful blend of sweet, salty, and fruity—and what superb dessert isn’t? Maybe I’m a sucker for salted caramel, but this is one cake I can see myself buying by the box, and not for any occasion other than satisfying my cravings.
Nicole: Our first in the Divo series, and we are met with one of the coolest presidents. Inspired by how Obama grew up in Hawaii, the BARACK OBAMA (S$10) pays homage to the copious amounts of pineapples found on the island.
A coconut cream cake filled with homemade pineapple jam and cream cheese filling is something you should be having by the beach. I first compared it to pineapple tart, but this slice resembles the effervescent, beachy Piña Colada more instead. Coconut cream, followed by thick, sweet pineapple filling with a sponge that crumbles with my fork, I can only sigh in admiration.
Basil: I’m not exactly sure about the reference to Barack Obama here, but perhaps this cake proves equally charismatic in its delivery. It is frighteningly reminiscent of pineapple tarts, and you get an added touch of coconut here to make this slice all the more addictive.
Nicole: Wouldn’t you want a slice of this? Tall, dark and full of coffee just like his Nespresso ads, Mr George Clooney (S$9.50) is the kind of coffee cake we all deserve. Coffee cake usually gets a bad rap for being terribly dry or tasteless but not anymore. This one is moist, loaded with crunchy hazelnut praline with an extra hit of espresso—a paradigm of how coffee cakes should be. At that moment, we were all Amal.
Basil: There’s a pleasing fragrance of coffee here that perfumes the mouth with each bite. It comes punctuated by notes of hazelnut praline that’s all things earthy and crunchy. Get this slice and pair it with a steaming cup of tea, sounds like the perfect afternoon to me.
Nicole: A cake that’s almost too pretty to eat, the Strawberry Lemon Yoghurt (S$9.50) is a definite crowd-pleaser, and no one would object to having a slice of this. With yoghurt mixed into the batter, the cake is unbelievably moist and yet as light-as-air. It’s hard to go wrong with classic flavours like this and Juwanda nails them to a T.
Rating: 7/ 10
Basil: Refreshing bursts of fruit and sour make this cake succeed exceedingly. It’s popular with kids. Well, count me in along with the chirpy adolescents, because I’m all for this Strawberry Lemon Yoghurt in all its tangy glory.
Nicole: TAKESHI SAN (S$9.50) greets you with a respectful and polite bow as he sits across from you. His black robes are glistening in the afternoon light as he sips his tea—the epitome of decorum and propriety.
The intense notes of sesame in both the sponge and buttercream make this cake a celebration of all things sesame. The ferocity of the sesame is then tempered by the subtle but intoxicating scent of Madagascan vanilla. Oishi!
Basil: An ominous black hue washes over this slice. Within this cake is an aggressive mix of black sesame and vanilla. The result? Earthy and powerful notes of black sesame that demonstrate how the chefs stay true to their ingredients. Only get this if you are a true blue fan of black sesame. While I’m not one myself, I can appreciate authentic flavours in a slice of TAKESHI SAN.
Nicole: What bakery is complete without an earl grey flavoured cake? A dusty pink Earl Grey Swiss meringue with cloud-like layers of earl grey sponge with the heady fragrance of earl grey is enough to let this tea fanatic keel over in excitement. Still, The Bette Midler (S$10) is no run-of-the-mill earl grey cake, a zesty lemon emulsion lifts this slice just enough such that it’s not cloying or overly sweet.
Basil: Earl grey and blueberry sponge, and an earl grey cream to boot. I like the floral notes from this one. It’s almost all too expected, but a playful lemon emulsion sets this one aside from all other earl grey desserts out there. Needless to say, I’m quite addicted.
Nicole: Lady Marmalade (S$9.50) presents as a relatively simple cake with layers of buttermilk sponge filled with marmalade and cream cheese frosting. Then, it’s covered by a shower of feathery puff pastry pieces, which turns this cake from sweet and dependable to intriguing and unforgettable.
It’s an über tender sponge that threatens to topple over at any second and begs for a second helping. Go sister, soul sister indeed.
Basil: Yes, another on the Diva series. I’m a little bewildered at this slice but in a good way. Buttermilk sponge, puff pastry, and a lemony marmalade sound all too decadent, but these elements manage to come off as refreshing to the palate. I could clean this up without feeling too cloyed, and I want to.
Nicole: Like the many phases of the moon, Luna (S$11.50) comes with a brilliant ombré interior made with caramel chocolate cake with a delightful Mediterranean almond and hazelnut praline cream.
Luna is not messing around here with her chocolate. With a velvety blanket of Valrhona chocolate, this cake is wonderfully rich, dense, with an intense hazelnut forward flavours.
Basil: Now we’re onto the chocolates. The Luna isn’t your girl next door. She’s a four-tiered ombré caramel chocolate cake with a lightly crunchy almond and hazelnut praline. The Valrhona ganache here is creamy and smooth. Altogether, it’s a deeply indulgent slice that fills the tummy quite aggressively.
Nicole: Another work of beauty, Shelia’s Ki Jawani (S$9) is an utterly elaborate chocolate cake that’s made with a pistachio and almond joconde sponge. Then, each layer brushed with liquid coffee, then filled with coffee cream and pistachio cream. What you get is a luxurious chocolate cake that’s with pronounced notes of pistachio and coffee. Ugh, a dream of a cake and wholly unexpected but warmly welcomed.
Basil: I can’t seem to keep track of all that’s going on with the Sheila’s Ki Jawani. A delightfully nutty pistachio and almond Joconde comes topped off with pistachio and coffee cream. Intensely flavourful is what it is, and I’m fiercely in love.
Nicole: Another member of the band, the AB FAB Red Velvet Cake (S$10) is another one of the OGs.
“Any baker who tells you they use beetroot juice for this is a liar”, Juwanda laughs when we ask about that signature red colouring. This recipe hasn’t changed for 15 years, and this moist, chocolatey cake is something that will never go out of style.
Basil: It’s only prudent to have a go at the AB FAB Red Velvet Cake. This one is a cornerstone slice, and I can see why. Utterly moist sponge and dark, rich notes of chocolate from the Valrhona ganache make this slice seriously sinful and oh-so-yummy.
Nicole: When it comes to chocolate cake, the world is your chocolate ganache at The Fabulous Baker Boy. Seeing as we are knee-deep in their chocolate confections, The Chocolate Salted Caramel (S$9.50) is one we have to discuss with fervour.
Yes, chocolate and salted caramel have been known comrades for the longest time, but still, when it’s done right— it’s DONE RIGHT, honey. A gooey, silky caramel flows out from each Valrhona layer, and even though I’m about to tap out, I reach for one more forkful.
Basil: Sea salt caramel, Valrhona chocolate ganache buttercream sit atop a dense chocolate sponge, and as rich as it is, I thoroughly enjoy this sweet-salty mix of flavours. Salted caramel desserts are a dime a dozen, and this one proves perfectly serviceable for your next dinner party.
Nicole: Do we still need to talk about how good the chocolate cakes are at The Fabulous Baker Boy? It’s made with Valrhona chocolate, made into three pillowy chocolate sponge layers, and topped with chocolate shavings. Frankly, they had me at Valrhona.
Basil: On the list of foods that could potentially achieve world peace, the Valrhona Chocolate Cake (S$10) ranks among the top few. The Fabulous Baker Boy’s iteration of this iconic slice proves wholly dependable and true to all things chocolate. It’s not the best I’ve had, but it makes me happy, and what more do we need?
Nicole: This is an interesting one—our very own homegrown Divo. The Hossan Leong (S$11) is a sticky spin on the classic Boston chocolate cake that comes with a show-stopping ten layers of butter torte with treacly hazelnut nut praline in between. If you’re wondering about the sass, you can find it in the salted chocolate crumb on the outside that helps to balance the sweetness of this cake rather effectively.
Basil: Here we are, at the end of the road. It’s the seventeenth cake of our tasting, and I’m seriously stuffed. Before I embark on a month-long cake-free cleanse, my senses get jolted once more with this deca-layered slice.
Yes, ten layers. It’s a neat homage to local comedian Hossan Leong, and it does provide some flavour along with the novelty of it all. I do like the touch of salt within this spin on a Boston chocolate cake, but it’s not one I’ll eagerly return for. Though, its visual appearance sure is a conversation starter.
Call me Michelle because BARACK OBAMA has my heart. I never thought I’d be in love with a pineapple cake, but The Fabulous Baker Boy has proved otherwise. A tropical daydream of cloud-like coconut cream and tart pineapple jam, I found myself reaching for seconds and even thirds.
You’ll have to appreciate the thoughtfulness that comes with each confection, and while this is a deceptively simple cake, it’s one you’ll keep thinking about.
Few cakes have left me as swooned as THE OGGS. Dreamy pairings of pistachio buttercream and butter torte make this slice one worthy of many returns. I leave with this slice etched in my mind, and I think you will too.
Our Rating: 5 / 5
The Fabulous Baker Boy
28 Aliwal Street, #01-01, Singapore 199918
28 Aliwal Street, #01-01, Singapore 199918