The opening of bakery chains such as Maison Kayser, Paul, Tiong Bahru Bakery and Baker & Cook last year has not deterred passionate bakers.
No fewer than six stand-alone bakery-cafes have opened in the past months, all focusing on artisan bread. They add to the popular chains in Orchard Road, which have gained a steady following here, from people who like European-style breads.
Some of these new bakeries try to set themselves apart from the chains by making customised breads for customers.
Head baker Gan Eng Ling of Anthesis, which refers to the time during which a flower is fully open, says: "It is important for us to customise our breads to suit diners, especially if we have those who are allergic to wheat.
"For those who are more health-conscious, we can focus on multi-grain breads or those with herbs inside."
Mr Kevin Yeo, co-owner of Craft Bakery & Cafe, expects more of such bakeries to open.
He says: "The scene is definitely growing. It is fuelled by the trend of coffee joints. I expect to see a lot more cafes in the future, with specialities of their own."
Here, we list six of these hot new places to go for fresh breads and more pastries in Singapore.
Freshly baked loaves and pastries are turned out in batches in the kitchen of Artisan Boulangerie Co, or what its executive chef Eran Mayer calls a "magical place".
Artisan Boulangerie Co’s executive chef Eran Mayer hopes to see every house in Singapore with freshly baked loaves and baguettes. PHOTO: ARTISAN BOULANGERIE CO
He speaks passionately about the different breads featured in the 4,000 sq ft cafe. These range from baguettes and sourdough loaves to croissants and pies. Prices range from $2 to $10.
With more than 20 years of baking experience, he gave up his bakery business in Paris to come to Singapore for a "new challenge".
At the week-old bakery-cafe, the Israel- born pastry chef uses French flour imported from a traditional flour mill in Chartres, outside Paris, and allows for at least 12 hours of fermentation of the breads.
As he slices a baguette and presses the crust to show its crunchy exterior and moist crumb, the 42-year-old French-German baker says: "I love to see the table with all these crumbs and I want people to open up to the culture where bread is made with love and passion.
"Just like in Paris, I hope every house in Singapore has freshly baked loaves and baguettes. Bread is my universe."
BAKERY ARTISAN ORIGINAL (B.A.O)
Where: 2 Kallang Avenue, 02-17, CT Hub, opens on Saturday, 10am to 6pm daily
Info: Call 6444-4787
This bakery is a collaboration between Gwen Lim, chef-owner of Patisserie G at Millenia Walk, and Frenchman Christophe Grilo, the former pastry chef of Canele.
Prices range from $2.50 for a baguette to $2.80 for a croissant. Buns are priced from $2 to $3.50. It will open its retail outlet on Saturday, but the breads were first introduced at The Providore cafe at Mandarin Gallery in July, and Grilo says there has been a "good response" from diners.
On the current bread scene here, he says: "It is split between the French and Asian style. More chefs should try to open their own bakeries and bring their own style of baking. Otherwise there will always be the same variety, look and feel."
Some special breads to look forward to include those with seaweed and squid ink, as well as kimchi. The bakers can also customise breads for diners on request.
Director and co-owner of Anthesis Melanie Ng says the bakery hopes to do a bread pairing menu, where its breads can be paired with the mains and appetisers.Tuna tataki.
Where: 86 Robertson Quay, 01-01, Robertson Blue, open: 8.30am to 5.30pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on Mondays
Info: Call 6737-9873
This is not just another quaint cafe specialising in artisan coffee located at Robertson Quay. Anthesis' focus is on speciality bread made by head baker Gan Eng Ling.
The 52-year-old has 30 years of experience in establishments such as Swissbake, Marche and Coffee Club.
Diners can tuck into bread served with preserves made in-house ($6 to $8), and a bread platter with three varieties served with cheese, hummus, orange marmalade and strawberry jam ($14).
The menu also features sandwiches such as tuna tataki ($18, above), which is bread topped with avocada salsa and pan-seared tuna.
The range of pastries and desserts include passionfruit yuzu meringue tart, sea salt caramel chocolate tart and blueberry cheesecake. Prices range from $4.50 to $6.90.
For a lazy Sunday brunch, there are mini breakfast burgers ($16) with poached egg and smoked salmon; banana split brioche French toast stack ($16) and Anthesis house salad with sauteed wild mushrooms and feta cheese.
The 70-seat cafe, which welcomes owners with pet dogs to dine in its alfresco area, is likely to serve a dinner menu in the future.
Director and co-owner Melanie Ng, 29, who was previously a partner with 1-Caramel Patisserie & Cafe at Handy Road, says: "We want to approach bread from a different angle. We hope to do a bread-pairing menu, where our breads can be paired with the mains and appetisers."
Bread King’s Brazilian-Japanese baker-owner Pedro Muniz puts out a fresh batch of bread and pastries every three hours as they are baked in small batches.
Where: 43 Burghley Drive, Burghley Squash and Tennis Centre, open: 7.30am to 9pm, Wednesdays to Mondays, closed on Tuesdays
Info: Call 6289-2508
What: Drive too fast and you might just miss the small bakery tucked away at the Burghley Squash and Tennis Centre, in the heart of the Serangoon Garden residential estate.
The sign for nine-month-old Bread King, with yellow words and a crown with the Chinese character for king on it, looks like what one might find at a neighbourhood bakery shop. That is the effect that its Brazilian- Japanese baker-owner Pedro Muniz wants to create.
He says: "I just want to be the local baker. I'm not French, why should I have a French name that no one can pronounce?"
The 47-year-old runs an IT consultancy firm which is headquartered in Japan, with a branch in Brazil. He moved to Singapore two years ago when he opened the firm's second branch.
Muniz, whose grandfather was a baker, started baking seriously six years ago by training in French bakeries. He wanted to develop his passion into a future career.
He plans to retire from the consultancy firm at the end of the year, and started this bakery venture as part of his post-retirement plan.
He puts out fresh bakes every three hours, as they are baked in small batches. Do not miss his buttery croissants ($3) made with French butter from Brittany, as well as pastries such as pain au chocolat ($3.50), and Emmental cheese roll ($4).
He also serves sandwiches (from $9.50) with ham (prosciutto di parma or jamon iberico) and cheese (choice of camembert, mozzarella or gouda). Complete your meal with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, using beans he roasts himself.
Muniz says: "What's missing in the bread scene here is fresh bakes that are still soft and are of the same quality on the second and third day. I may be working 17 hours a day but it is so rewarding when diners appreciate the artisan bread."
The Bread Table’s owner Joseph Lee (front) with baker and business partner Eunice Cheong and pastry baker Andi Amir and chief baker Moo Han Kit.French onion bread. -- ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN
THE BREAD TABLE
Where: 14 Jalan Kuras, open: 11am to 9pm (Mondays), 10am to 9pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays
Info: Call 6100-1345, e-mail email@example.com or go to www.thebreadtable.com
This bakery off Upper Thomson Road is tucked away in the premises of bao chain Choon Ming Bao Dian.
But it is worth the hunt for the aromatic loaves that grace the counter top at this two-month-old joint.
It is run by owner and head baker Joseph Lee, 49, who gave up a 22-year career as an engineer in the IT industry to pursue his passion for baking.
He walked into a bakery in Hanoi in 2005 and was fascinated by the baker making baguettes there. He asked if he could learn how to make them too and ended up spending four hours baking 50 baguettes. He paid US$50 for the baguettes he baked.
Back home, he continued baking and in 2011, enrolled in a two-month professional baking course at the French Culinary Institute in New York.
From the range of 15 to 18 types of breads available, highlights include Lee's speciality sourdough range with cheese or walnut ($8.50 each); pane alle potato ($3.80), which is Italian bread with roasted potatoes, herbs and olive oil; French onion bread ($1.80) with the aroma of sweet, caramelised onions; and bread with oatmeal, wheat, blueberries and raisins ($5).
Next month, he plans to introduce cakes and pastries too.
The self-proclaimed bread lover says: "I remember buying bread from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and smiling to myself in the car as I smelt the freshly baked sourdough bread. I want people to have the same happy feeling when they buy bread from me."
CRAFT BAKERY & CAFE
Where: 24 Lorong Mambong, open: Noon to 11pm (Sundays to Thursdays), noon to midnight (Fridays and Saturdays)
Info: Call 6467-7710
This cafe is run by siblings Celine Yeo, 35, and younger brother Kevin, who also runs three-year-old dessert bar 3-Inch Sin. Mr Yeo, 32, says: "Since 3-Inch Sin is more of a dessert parlour, we wanted to do a full-fledged cafe with a wider menu."
Co-owner Kevin Yeo of Craft Bakery & Cafe
The five-week-old outlet features baked goods (above) by Ms Yeo, such as croissants ($2), chocolate doughnuts ($2.40) and two-cheese pizza bread ($3.50), with mozzarella and cheddar.
The bakery also serves sandwiches, pastas and pizzas, and the owners are looking to introduce all-day breakfast options too.
One unique item on the menu to look out for is The Craft ($11.50), with bacon caramelised in maple syrup and green apple slaw sandwiched between waffles.
Fans of molten lava cakes ($9.50) can get their fix, with a scoop of ice cream, at the cafe too.
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on September 8, 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.