Growing interest in Singapore’s heritage has resulted in delicious reinventions of traditional desserts like that of the humble ondeh ondeh
Few can resist the traditional Peranakan treat that is ondeh ondeh—those dainty pretty globes made from glutinous rice flour and filled with gula melaka (palm sugar), then tousled with grated coconut laced with the barest hint of salt. Also known as ‘klepon’ in Java, Indonesia, the flour mixture is typically infused with pandan, which gives it a characteristically greenish hue—an effect that is also oft achieved with a handy drop of green food colouring.
While nothing beats the real deal, bakers have taken the holy trinity of gula melaka, pandan and coconut, and made it all their own. Check out these ondeh ondeh inspired desserts making their rounds in cafes and bakeries around town
Mad Batter’s halal ondeh ondeh cupcake ($21 for a box of six) is not just a cupcake; it’s a small complex cake built on different textures and flavours—from the soft chiffon sponge cake infused with gula melaka, to the coconut buttercream and gula melaka and grated coconut sprinkled on top. Baker Nur Zahirah says ondeh ondeh was her favourite kueh growing up. “To me, the most important element that makes a perfect ondeh ondeh cupcake is the right coconut cream. I’ve been through a lot of coconut cream to find the right one, and that’s what makes the entire cupcake perfect.”
B3-09 Unit 12, Thomson V Two, 11 Sin Ming Road. Tel: 9476 2030
Served hot, the ondeh ondeh churros from Churros Factory ($5 for 3) feature their signature ‘crispy on the outside, soft on the inside’ texture. A sprinkling of sugar cinnamon is added to the grated coconut topping for added fragrance. Says founder Png Suyi, “We always wanted to be known as a Singapore brand, so we decided to research and incorporate local flavours into our churros. The sauce is made of gula melaka and is our secret blend. Some customers even buy our gula melaka dip separately to go with the original or charcoal churros.”
B1-26, 112 Katong Mall; B2-K2 Westgate Mall; #01-25 Junction 10 Mall. Tel: 8500 0700
Located in Fort Canning Park, The Fabulous Baker Boy is the perfect spot to take the slow lane and tuck into a large slice of the Jacintha Cake. It’s named after Jacintha Abisheganaden, the local singer and actress who mentored theatre actor turned chef Juwanda Hassim when he was just starting out in the Singapore theatre scene. Comprising pandan and cream sponge cake filled with cream cheese, gula melaka sugar crumbs, then topped with coconut cream and gula melaka swiss meringue butter cream ($153 for a whole cake), the cake is weighty with a slightly dense texture, reminiscent of the kueh that it takes after. “It’s because I use coconut cream, and it’s made with a crumb technique where you add all the dry ingredients first, crumb it with soft butter and then all the liquids. The coconut cream plays an important part in the texture of this cake,” he says.
70 River Valley Road. Tel: 6694 8336
Cooking instructor Heidi Tay says that the ondeh ondeh cake ($50 for a whole cake) is a regular request at Baker’s Brew Studio. The version here consists of fluffy pandan sponge cake layers sandwiched with a gula melaka coconut mixture and covered in smooth coconut buttercream. “Our pandan cake layers stay fluffy and moist as they are practically soaked in the goodness and fragrance of the palm sugar. For many, it brings back memories of childhood, happily munching on a burst-in-your-mouth chewy dessert,” she says.
6 Jalan Tampang and 246H Upper Thomson Road. Tel: 9069 5096
Hobbyist baker Audrey Lim aka Oddbakes occasionally sells her bakes, including her popular ondeh ondeh macarons ($2.50 each). She calls them pandan shells with coconut buttercream and salted gula melaka caramel. “Getting the caramel to the right consistency is the hardest part! The sea salt adds a little twist and helps bring the sweetness down a tad.”
Elegant eclairs, pretty as a picture. A toupee of green on top makes you wonder if pandan is going to be the overwhelming flavour in this French choux pastry. At first bite though, it’s the gentle gush of gula melaka cream that takes centre-stage—rich but not too sweet. White chocolate gives an added light crunch. Originally created to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday, ondeh ondeh eclair ($6.80) was Two Bakers’ eclair flavour of the month in November. Says Erica Yap, pastry chef and co-founder, “We use quality gula melaka for the mascarpone cream, hence it is not overly sweet.”
88 Horne Road. Tel: 6293 0329
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Cover: Two Baker’s eclair ondeh ondeh
This was first published in Wine & Dine’s November 2016 issue – Love Choc, Trending ‘Oleh, Oleh, Ondeh Ondeh…”
Words: Charlene Chow Art Direction: Priscilla Tan Photography: James Liang, Baker’s Brew Studio, OddBakes
Items for our shoot were kindly supplied by Churros Factory, Two Bakers, The Fabulous Baker Boy, and Mad Batter