A cake made with thin pancake layers is catching on in Singapore.
Called mille crepe – mille means thousand in French – the cake is made with at least 20 paper-thin French pancakes layered with fresh pastry cream.
The cakes, which must be served chilled, are burnished with a gold sheen of caramelised sugar on top. Some bakeries put their own spin on it, with fruit, chocolate, peanut butter and even durian in between the layers.
The first shop to sell these cakes in Singapore seven years ago was Classic Cakes in Sunset Way.
The Chocolate Chip mille crepe cake from Classic Cakes (above) which introduced the cakes here seven years ago. Photo: Classic Cakes
Baker Charles Quek’s inspiration came from his girlfriend, who had tried the cake at Lady M Confections in New York.
The patisserie is credited by The New York Times in a 2005 article for creating the cake. It also says that Lady M had trademarked the name Mille Crepes.
Since then, the delicately lush dessert has become popular in France and Japan as well.
And now in Singapore, at least four more outlets have picked up on the trend over the past six months.
They include First Love Patisserie at Ion Orchard’s Food Hall, Doutor Coffee at Marina Bay Financial Centre and Paris Baguette at Wisma Atria.
Jakarta-based First Love, which opened three weeks ago, makes its mille crepe cakes using a recipe from a Hokkaido chef.
One of its owners, Mr Jonathan Ng, says: “Each cake has at least 20 layers and we felt that it’s time to bring in a different type of cake for Singaporeans to try. Many people have already tried chocolate or strawberry cakes, so we hope that customers will try mille crepe cakes for the first time at First Love.”
So far, only two flavours are available, but the company is looking to introduce more in the coming months.
At Wisma Atria, Korean cafe Paris Baguette’s take on the mille crepe cake ups the ante by incorporating light sponge cake layers in addition to crepes.
Burger chain Everything With Fries sticks to the traditional vanilla cream-layered cake.
Yet, with the new entrants, older players are still seeing brisk business. Singapore-based Humble Beginnings, which makes the cakes in Malaysia, started its online business here in 2007. Besides mille crepe cakes, it also sells cheese and sponge cakes.
At Humble Beginnings, the cakes such as Peanut Butter Blueberry Blizzard (above) are made with fresh cream and have no preservatives. Photo:Humble Beginnings
A spokesman for the company says: “Interest has been picking up via word of mouth and to a smaller extent, via the social media. Both markets in Singapore and Malaysia are doing exceptionally well.”
Classic Cakes’ mille crepe cakes are still the favourite among fans that SundayLife! spoke to.
Mr Quek says: “It’s great to know that more Singaporeans are enjoying mille crepes. Competition is always good as it gives diners more choice and spurs all of us to do better.
“We are always looking at trying out new flavours to suit Singapore palates.”
His two shops offer four flavours – Original, Apple, Durian and Chocolate Chip – and the cake tops are caramelised only when customers come to collect their cakes. He bakes an average of six cakes a day.
On trying a mille crepe cake from Classic Cakes for the first time a few months ago, housewife Germaine Ong, 49, says: “I didn’t expect to like the cake when my daughter bought it for me.
“When I think of layered cake, I think of kueh lapis, so I was a bit concerned about the cream. But I like that the cake isn’t too sweet and the crepes are so thin.”
Marketing executive Ena Lee, 25, a fan of the cakes, has tried the layered delights from Humble Beginnings, Classic Cakes and First Love Patisserie.
She says: “I’ve tried making the cake on my own, with ice cream instead, but it really isn’t easy. I love the mille crepe cakes from Classic Cakes and Humble Beginnings as they are not too sweet. They are also impeccably made with thin crepes and just enough cream.
“Singaporeans generally like crepes so the combination with cream is very pleasant. I also like that they have a caramel crust.
“The cakes are very nice for celebrations. Everyone is always intrigued by all the layers.”
WHERE TO FIND MILLE CREPE
FIRST LOVE PATISSERIE
What: This Indonesian brand specialises in mille crepe cakes using a Japanese recipe. Two flavours, Oreo (right) and original, are available now and others such as strawberry and blueberry will be available later.
Where: Ion Orchard Food Hall, B4-63, open: 11am to 10pm daily
Price: $6.50 a slice, order whole cakes two days in advance
Info: Call 6238-8006 or go to www.facebook.com/firstlovecake
What: This four-year-old online service features a wide range of mille crepe cakes. The top four flavours are French Vanilla, Peanut Butter Blueberry Blizzard, Swiss Chocolate Velvet and Raspberry Cheese Yogurt. All are made with fresh cream and do not contain preservatives. A list of its cakes is available on the company’s website. Additional toppings such as M&M’s, fresh fruit and roasted almonds are also available.
You can also ask for the cake to be sliced into wedges or cut into cubes and speared with toothpicks for easy eating.
Where: Order online at least two days in advance, collection at all Cathay Cineplexes, Parlour by Ashley Isham’s at Orchard Central, 01-27 & 02-07, and Hairloom at Shaw Towers, 100 Beach Road, 01-50
Price: From $58 for 0.9kg
Info: Call 6492-1695 or go to sgshop.humblebeginnings.com.my
EVERYTHING WITH FRIES
What: After a burger at Everything With Fries, complete your meal with the vanilla crepe, with more than 20 layers of French crepe layered with a light vanilla cream.
Where: All four outlets at Orchard Central, Bugis Junction, Joo Chiat Road and 40 Lorong Mambong, available only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Price: $6.90 a slice, $57.80 (whole cake, order in advance)
What: The Japanese coffee joint’s domed mille crepe cake (above) with lush pastry cream is so popular that it is sometimes sold out before 10am. You have to go early or order in advance as they have only 40 slices available daily.
Where: Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, 01-05, open: 7.30am to 9.30pm (weekdays), 8.30am to 7pm (weekends)
Price: $6 a slice
Info: Call 6604-6082
What: The first cake shop here to introduce mille crepe cakes has flavours such as Apple, with fresh apple slices infused with cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice; and Chocolate Chip.
The two favourites are Durian, with durian pastry cream and D24 durian filling; and Original, with vanilla, kirsch and a caramelised sugar topping.
Where: Two outlets at Clementi Arcade, 41 Sunset Way, 01-06 and 52 Siglap Drive.
Open at Sunset Way, 2 to 9pm (Tuesdays), 11am to 9pm (Wednesdays to Saturdays), 2 to 7pm (Sundays); at Siglap, 2 to 8pm (Tuesdays), 11am to 8pm (Wednesdays to Saturdays), 2 to 7pm (Sundays). Both outlets closed on Mondays
Price: From $70 to $85 for a 1.5kg cake
Info: Call 6762-8019 (Sunset Way)
or 6246-4151 (Siglap) or go to www.charlesclassiccakes.com
What: The Korean cafe’s take on the mille crepe is called Oh My Baby Crepe cake: the pancakes are layered with light sponge cake, berries and cream.
It is somewhat like a cross between a strawberry shortcake and mille crepe.
Where: Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, 02-02/03, open: 10am to 10pm daily
Price: $8 a slice, $42 for a whole cake
Info: Call 6836-2010
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on January 6, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.