There are some things in life that get better and better with age – wine, cheese, and traditional bakeries that churn out some of the best memories of our childhoods are one of them. These folks are masters in their craft, having plied their trade for decades, and the proof is in the bakes.
With their unfussy exteriors that prioritise their baked goods over aesthetics, these old-school bakeries give off quite a different vibe from the spanking new cafes that have been popping up all over. And quite frankly, we’re loving it. There is a steady comfort in knowing that these bakes are not trendy items that will be here today and gone tomorrow – a welcome anchor amidst all the fast-paced changes we face in modern-day living.
Unfortunately, it’s been hard for these old school bakers to find someone who’s willing to take over their businesses. So while this generation of legends are still handcrafting their unparalleled treats, now’s a good time to enjoy them.
From candy-coloured buttercream rose cakes to the most buttery and custardy egg tarts to good ol’ baked bread with a variety of fillings to the most colourful of sticky kuehs, nostalgia has never tasted more sweet (or savoury).
16 traditional bakeries in Singapore to check out today before it’s too late
1. Serangoon Gardens Bakery & Confectionery
Residents of Serangoon Gardens will acknowledge this old school bakery as one of the neighbourhood’s treasures, and we’re totally onboard with that. Calling a simple stall at the Serangoon Gardens Hawker Centre its home for more than 40 years, Serangoon Gardens Bakery & Confectionery is a firm favourite for its yummy and oh-so-satisfying buns.
Baked to golden perfection with a crusty top and fluffy inner, the pillowy buns are perfect to accompany a wide variety of fillings and ingredients that you can choose from each day. There’s no fixed menu, but about 20 different items are sold every day.
If you want something hearty, look for buns stuffed with curry, luncheon meat, hot dogs, otah, or even hei bee hiam (spicy dried shrimp sambal) which would make a satisfying breakfast any day of the week. If you’re craving for something sweeter, choose from buns with fillings like coconut, kaya, red bean, butter sugar, or a slice or ten of oh-so-buttery butter cake and banana cake.
Hang around long enough and you can see people buying boxes of these buns and cake home, testament to how timelessly yummy they are.
Address: 49A Serangoon Garden Way, Serangoon Garden Market, #01-45, Singapore 555945
Opening hours: 6.30am – 3pm or when they’re sold out (daily, closed on Mon)
2. Uncle Lee’s Confectionery
This name may not sound familiar to you but it’s actually a rebrand of the beloved Hock Ann Confectionery, which announced that it would be shuttering earlier this year.
We’re not sure about you, but we definitely could hear the collective sighs of sadness from a generation of children who grew up on old Uncle Lee’s bakes when that announcement was made.
Well, the old store at Tanglin Halt may be closed by end of this month to make way for redevelopment of the estate but don’t fret just yet because they have just announced that Uncle Lee is going to come back in action in December at a new premise in the hip Bugis area – surprise, surprise!
Say hello once more to delicious bakes that never grow old, such as their Kaya Cake, a fluffy pandan sponge cake slathered with a thick layer of homemade kaya; and their exceptionally light Peanut Cake, a vanilla sponge cake layered with fresh cream and covered all over with crushed peanuts.
While you can purchase most of your favourite bakes from their new store including chocolate rice rolls, custard puffs, and an assortment of old school breads and pastries, you’ll need to order their bestselling Kaya and Peanut cakes online. You may also WhatsApp them at 9386 0412.
3. Tong Heng
When its owners insist on making the pastry painstakingly by hand, even with the availability of machines to make the job that much easier, you know every pastry that they churn out is handcrafted gold.
The shop may have gotten a facelift, boasting a bright and modern look these days, but the recipes remain unchanged, and we’re so glad for that!
The first thing you should try is definitely their distinctive diamond-shaped egg tarts, which are well-known for just how addictive they are. With a perfectly wobbly egg centre that sits in a flaky, buttery crust – the tarts have the magical ability of seeming to taste better with each tart we pop into our mouth.
Other traditional treats worth getting here are their Chinese Cake with Red Bean Paste, BBQ Pork Crisp, and Chicken Curry Crisp.
Address: 285 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058833 |
1 Jurong West Central 2, Jurong Point Mall, #B1-10, Singapore 648886
- South Bridge Road: 9am – 7pm (daily)
- Jurong Point Mall: 9.30am – 9pm (daily)
4. Sweetlands Breads & Bakery
If you are a bread lover, you’ll know what we mean when we say that the bread you can get at Sweetlands is really good, solid, hearty bread, each loaf imperfect with burnt crusty ends or oddly shaped. The kind of bread that’s getting harder to find these days, as big chain bakeries dominate the modern food landscape.
So, we’re really glad that Sweetlands still supplies its breads to coffeeshops and food courts all over Singapore – it means that more people still get to enjoy these traditionally made breads we grew up on. Additive-free and baked in a traditional oven, these breads are a tasty and wholesome reminder of yesteryear.
You’ll award it extra points if you like traditionally made baguette breads that are simply the best eaten dipped in chicken potato curry; Sweetlands makes these daily and they fly off the shelves when they make their appearance. They’ve got delicious stuffed buns in all sorts of flavours too, so do grab some for your coffee break if you happen to see them out in their freshly baked golden glory!
5. Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah
Sure, this is not a pastry that many of the younger generation enjoy. But boy, are we glad that old school bakeries like Loong Fatt are keeping this traditional Teochew pastry alive, by ensuring that they make the best of the best.
There are long queues to purchase these hand-rolled tau sar piah everyday, as people come from near and far to get their hands on a box of these sweet and salty bean pastries that have been made using the same time-preserved recipe from 1948.
The pastry is flaky and buttery, with a firm sweet or salty mung bean filling that gives just the right amount of satisfaction as you bite into them. They’re made fresh every single day, with the workers hand-rolling the pastry dough and bean fillings meticulously, flipping them around in the ovens, and laying them out one by one.
We hear they pair exceptionally well with a cup of traditional roasted coffee, for a wonderfully old school midday kopi break that will take you right down memory lane.
6. Chin Mee Chin
Awesome news, Hainanese coffeehouse Chin Mee Chin is back! Some of us may remember the iconic blue and white mosaic floor tiles of this charming shophouse in Katong that made the best charcoal toasted kaya buns.
Today, it’s back under the helm of celebrated pastry chef Maxine Looi, and the Ebb & Flow Group. Sharon Tan, granddaughter of the late founder, and her mother, Leong Kwang Ling, are also onboard to keep a watchful eye on the brand, to ensure it stays true to its original spirit.
For the uninitiated, you can now head on down to their revamped outlet for the same old school favourites like traditional toast and eggs, robust kopi, and timeless local snacks like curry puffs, custard puffs, swiss rolls, fruit cakes, and cream horns. New additions to the menu come in the form of sweet treats like peanut butter and chocolate tart, and cheese brownies.
We even spied something that’s rarer in Singapore these days – Eurasian delicacy Pang Susi, which is essentially a sweet potato bun that’s stuffed with aromatic meat.
Do expect to queue for a table as long running fans of the stall are understandably excited about it’s reopening – and so are we.
7. Rich and Good Cake Shop
What looks like a little rolled up towel, has a soft and fluffy texture, with fillings such as kaya, coffee, or strawberry? Oh, and some people say its richness and goodness makes this the best you can get on our little island. That’s right, it’s Rich and Good cake shop’s famous Swiss rolls!
The queue at its latest outlet in Jewel is unabating and the popular flavours sell out in a flash – so is it worth the hype? We and lots of people certainly think so! The sponge is that perfect sweet spot of moist and fluffy, and the cream fillings are that rare breed of just right, neither too sweet or rich but oh-so-yummy. And it’s common consensus that the ratio of sponge to filling is just right.
Favourites are their Kaya and Durian flavours, which are local classics in their own right. Aromatic and fragrant, they pair delightfully with a hot cup of teh-C.
Address: 24 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198887 |
78 Airport Boulevard, #01-232, Jewel Changi Airport, Singapore 819666
- Kandahar Street: 9am – 5pm (Tue – Sat), 10.30am-5pm (Mon), closed on Sun
- Jewel: 12.30pm – 9pm, closed on Tue
8. Jie Bakery & Confectionery
The aroma of freshly baked bread is simply put, one of the most heartwarming smells in the world. Yeasty and slightly sweet, it’s a smell that makes us feel so good, inside out. This is exactly what you will smell when you visit one of Singapore’s oldest traditional bakeries, Jie Bakery and Confectionery, in their old hood of Tai Seng.
Watching them bake bread is really quite therapeutic; eating it is even more so. Baked in traditional wooden pans to absorb the moisture produced while the bread proofs, it hardly gets more rustic than this here in modern day Singapore.
We hear their simple loaves of plain bread taste heavenly with their kaya and peanut butter spreads, you need to try it to believe it.
And if you’re a fan of those pretty rainbow breads sold by the ice cream uncles on their bicycles, you’ll be excited to know that this is where it’s made! Soft, pillowy, and so sweetly reminiscent of ice cream slabs sandwiched between their unicorn-hued slices, it’s really worth bagging home for extra childhood feels to perk you up through these rougher days.
Psst, Jie Bakery supplies their bread to many F&B outlets around Singapore too, so you may find their taste familiar!
9. Balmoral Bakery
This is the real deal, if you’re in the market for a heavy dose of sepia-tinged nostalgia. Founded in 1965, Balmoral Bakery is as old as Singapore is.
It is still helmed by its two original founders, a pair of Hainanese brothers who are wholly passionate about sharing their bakes with people from all walks of life. Which is why prices have remained the low for years, in spite of prices everywhere else rising – super big kudos to them for this!
It’s got its own loyal fanbase, with customers from its very first premise in Holland Village following the store to its current premises in Sunset Way to purchase their daily bakes.
Here, you’ll find bakes influenced by our British colonial past. Choose from the likes of beef pies, quiches, buttercream cakes, rum balls, sugary doughnuts with and without sprinkles, coconut or pineapple tarts, and a vast assortment of buns and sweet pastries. The one thing you must try here though are their cream horns, a rich afternoon treat of flaky pastry rolled into a unicorn horn, stuffed full with fresh cream. Wow!
10. Lana Cakes
If you’re a child of the 1980s and 1990s, you’ll probably be familiar with the fudgy, chocolatey goodness that is Lana Cakes.
Slated to shut down a few years ago because owner Violet Kwan wanted to hang her apron and whisk up, the store’s future is once more rich and fudgy, and lots of us in Singapore raise our forks with relieved glee. All thanks to her son Jason Kwan, who stepped up to take over the running of the business and continue baking the delicious cakes everyone knows and loves.
Featuring a soft chiffon sponge encased softly with chocolate ganache, the cake is altogether light and moist, not overly sweet with that little touch of salty and the right aftertaste of that bit of bitter – a stamp of the real chocolatey stuff. Little wonder then, that this cake has its legions of loyal fans through the years.
Psst: It’s been reported before that Lana Cakes sells between 400-500 of their ubiquitous chocolate cake every single week!
11. Love Confectionery
Retaining the kitschy charm of a simpler time before life got modern is Love Confectionery, an old school HDB bakery nestled in the heartlands of Alexandra. Even its signboard, complete with a stylised heart for the “O” in “Love” has not been updated through the years.
Nothing fancy here, except good, comforting, and honest bakes that will take you right back to a simpler time of your childhood. Here, you’ll find slices of cake topped with rich buttercream and covered with chocolate rice, rainbow sprinkles, or crushed peanut, as well as pandan chiffon cakes that consistently sell out by mid-afternoon.
Open up their bread windows and you’ll find them well-stocked with old-time favourites like traditional Teochew biscuits, custard cream puffs, and an assortment of bakery breads. Such bakeries are becoming a dying breed with the proliferation of mass bakery chains, so do pop by if you’re yearning for a bite from the past.
Address: 122 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-60, Singapore 150122
Opening hours: 12pm – 9pm (daily)
12. Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery
With humble beginnings as a home kitchen in the 1960s that handmade all their sweet and savoury kueh with plenty of sweat and even more love, Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery is now proudly run by third generation owner Gavin Lim.
The 60-year-old recipes are proudly passed down from a skilled Peranakan teacher, so you know these are the real deal!
Ang Ku Kueh, the eye-catching oval-shaped sticky cake made of red rice flour wrapped around a sweet or savoury filling, is the main draw here. Other goodies include soon kueh and steamed yam cake, and of course you’ll need to check out their veritable bonanza of Peranakan Kueh kueh like kotoh ubi, Kueh salat, pulut Inti and rainbow Kueh lapis.
13. Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry
Authentic Nonya kueh are rather hard to come by these days, and we’re so pleased to add a second store that makes drool-worthy Nonya kueh to this list. Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry is a must-try if you’re in the hood – maybe even if you’re not, especially if you’re a fan of Peranakan kuehs.
You can get your hands on almost any manner of Peranakan kueh here. Every kueh is hand made in this little store nestled amongst hipper and newer cafes, standing as a bastion to olden times. And gazing upon the display of colourful kueh is a joy in itself, surely making you feel like trying everything in the store.
We hear the Ondeh Ondeh is a must-try, if you have the good fortune of arriving shortly after it’s made, that is! Another item you should try is something you may have seen on your IG feeds – the cute crown-shaped Putu Ayu. This is basically as good as it looks: steamed coconut pandan sponge cakes topped off with grated coconut and drizzles. Yum.
Address: Block 55 Tiong Bahru Road, #01-39, Singapore 160055
Opening hours: 6.30am – 9.30pm (daily)
14. Dona Manis Cake Shop
Famous for their banana pies, Dona Manis Cake Shop is a real gem, nestled in the old-meets-new neighbourhood of Katong. It’s run by a husband-and-wife team with every bake coming right out of their humble little kitchen, you can almost taste the pride in every bite.
The traditional kitchen is ripe with the aroma of ripe bananas, butter and sugar – a delicious scent that warms us from tummy to soul.
And you’ll be coming here for a slice of their old-but-gold banana pie baked fresh daily, which goes for SS2.50 a slice or S$25 for a whole pie. It’s decadent yet not jelak (overpoweringly cloying), a winning combination of sweet banana, toasted almond, fragrant coconut, all held within a buttery pie crust that long-time customers say is utterly unique to the legendary store.
Address: 865 Mountbatten Road, Katong Shopping Centre, #B1-93, Singapore 437844
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm (Mon), 9.30am – 6pm (Tue – Sat), closed on Sun
15. Pine Garden’s Cake
Sophisticated cafe cakes these are not, but they’re a slice of Singapore’s heartland history and they taste just like childhood to us. Back when fresh cream cakes were a real luxury and all we could get our hands on were buttercream cakes, Pine Garden’s Blackforest Gateau filled with layers of fresh cream was a delectable treat.
Today, you can still find this memorable flavour at the bakery, as well as other flavours that are extremely reminiscent of growing up in the 1970s and 80s and quite unique to Singapore, like the buttercream rice cakes, pulat hitam, kopi, and even the elusive white rabbit candy!
Also, we find it adorable that a slice of chocolate rice cake is still priced at the same price of 80 cents from 30 years ago – a wonderful throwback to simpler times. The past was indeed sweeter and we’re so glad we can still enjoy a slice of it today.
16. Haig Road Putu Piring
This family-run store has found fame on Netflix – and for totally good reason. Their steamed goodies filled with oozy goodness are made-to-order on the spot, and are still crafted with the very same family recipe passed down for decades now.
Today, Mohamad Hashim, along with his son and daughter-in-law, continue to keep this traditional Malay snack alive and delicious. Bite into one of these piping hot and you’ll get a mouthful of melt-in-your-mouth goodness. That moment when the rich gula melaka (palm sugar) oozes out at first bite, there’s nothing quite like it.
If it’s your first time trying this snack, we highly recommend getting the classic gula melaka flavour. Other fragrant fillings you can choose from are durian, chocolate, and coconut.
Looking very much like the Chinese Kueh Tutu, the main difference lies in the type of flour used: Putu Piring uses plain rice flour which yields a fluffy and tender kueh, while Kueh Tutu uses glutinous rice flour which results in a firmer texture.
The store has expanded to four locations island-wide now, so you can get more conveniently get your fix of this tasty old-time snack and other Malay treats like peanut makmur and prune lapis!
Address: Located at five locations islandwide, including Haig Road, Geylang, Northpoint City, and East Village. The original outlet is located at 14 Haig Road, #01-07, Haig Road Hawker Centre, Singapore 430014. Click here for location details.
Opening hours: 10.30am – 9.30pm (daily)
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