There are many Singapore patisserie that open throughout the years.
However, every once in a while, a bold patissiere tries to up the game. At the dawn of the century, it was Les Amis’ Canele. The patisserie was pivotal for exposing the masses to the upmarket cakes and pastries that we know and love today. Nearly 10 years later, I think we’ve a candidate in Mad About Sucre.
To be fair, I view Mad About Sucre as a “haute couture” rather than “pret-a-porter”. To take the scene to the next level, you need to be able to scale up, and take it to the masses. The model here, is just not something that can be replicated.
This patisserie is unabashedly French – mixing the baroque Marie Antoinette-sque extravagance with the sleek, perfection of contemporary expression. Indeed, the baker-proprietor Lena Chan gained her craft at Le Cordon Bleu and honed her technique at Paris’ Sugarplum Cake Shop. The latter, I suppose, was not for long, since from an aesthetics point of view, Mad About Sucre inherits virtually nothing from it.
There are perhaps, no more than seven cakes sold here. The menu does not appear to have changed in the last couple of months, which can, on paper, sound problematic. However, when you step in, you almost feel like you’re stepping into a bespoke like in the style of CYC, Diamond Walker or Kingsmen at London’s Savile Row. You don’t fit the confections, they are here to fit your palate and personality. Hence, the staff make themselves available to your every whim and fancy, passionately explaining each cake – making recommendations and bouncing off your feedback. For the common peasant, it can all seem a little distressing. However, as an accomplished aristocrat, I ravished the attention.
I started off with the Passione. My first brush with a cake that weren’t just a sponge was cheesecake in the mid-2000s. Perhaps my college friends (assuming they’re still around) might remember my preference for cheesecakes, whether it’d be from NYDC, Cafe Cartel, Coffee Bean or Starbucks. Sure, now you think nothing of it, but for me, that’s where I started off. It was just the excitement of flavors and textures that got to me. There was always this underlying base of tart that titilated by taste buds. But I grew bored of it, seeing as it was all there seemed to be. Unlike your classic chocolate truffle where there seems to be a progression in sophistication and flavor, cheesecakes seemed stagnant…until this.
On its own, the passione, though positioned for light palates, is rather intensely rich. The passionfruit mousse topping off the cake, the coconut sable sponge and shortbread tart base on its own, not only seem to fail to break the monotony of the cheesecake, they appear to enhance it. To inject a sense of discord, the crisp and caramel cocoa nibs cracker creates a dissonance that revitalizes the cheesecake, reanimating the fusion between the passionfruit, coconut sponge and the cheeses. The result is something that’s quite close to being heavenly.
I couldn’t come and not order fan favorite, the San Domingue. Plus, I’m a chocolate fan, so it’d be criminal not to, right? It was recommended that I consume alcohol first to influence the consumption of the chocolate ball after, so I did just that. The rum creates a foundation, accenting the chocolate mousse and banana cream. However, it does a poor job, and the feeling quickly dissipates (which is why chocolate liqueurs tend to go for grand marnier or orange liqueur instead of rum). Mad About Sucre appears aware of this, which is why these desserts are also paired with teas. Each sip really swishes the flavors around.
Some places let the confections speak for themselves, and that’s fine. But we are not a discerning nor appreciating audience – speaking for confections relates discernment and effort, and I think that’s something we should really make an effort towards.