Burn Baby Burn: Best Basque Cheesecake in Singapore
When it comes to desserts, Singapore is passionate – if not obsessed. Our Instagram feeds have been filled with Japanese soufflé pancakes, mille crepe cakes, salted egg lava croissants… But the latest buzz seems to centre around the Burnt Basque Cheesecake. That burnished, caramelised top layer has become truly iconic – and rightfully so.
While it’s surprisingly easier to make at home than you may first think, restaurants, bakeries and cafes in Singapore have been executing the recipe like nobody’s business. In particular, 7 spots have stolen our attention.
But before we launch into the gloriously gooey guide, let’s talk about the Basque cheesecake backstory.
What is Burnt Basque Cheesecake?
The world’s love for cheesecake runs deep. There’s the rich New York style cheesecake, Germany’s lighter version which uses quark, the ‘cotton’ or soufflé cheesecake from Japan, Sicilian cheesecake (a.k.a. torta de ricotta) and even raw vegan varieties which usually rely on cashews and coconut milk.
In 1990, another rendition was brought to life by chef Santiago Rivera, owner of Spanish restaurant La Viña in San Sebastian. We’re of course talking about burnt Basque cheesecake.
Until recently, the hype around the dessert was concentrated locally in San Sebastian and surrounding towns. But as travelling chefs and foodies caught a bite of the dish, it started to make its way to high-end restaurants in New York, Melbourne, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Tokyo and London – from then onwards it exploded into the global sensation it is today.
So, what makes it different from any other cheesecake? After all, the original La Vina recipe contains just five ingredients: cream cheese, full-fat cream, sugar, eggs and flour.
The magic lies in the cooking technique. The ingredients are blended together and poured into a cake tin lined with parchment paper before being baked at a very high temperature. This forms that famous cracked and burnt layer, reminiscent of salted caramel or brown butter. On the other hand, the interior remains creamy and oozy, causing many enamoured eaters to crown it as the world’s best version of cheesecake. No arguments there.
7 Places to Find the Best Basque Cheesecake in Singapore
1. TXA Pintxo Bar
The original Basque cheesecake originated in a pintxo bar, so it makes sense that Singapore’s only one of its kind serves the famous delicacy too. Pinxto (or pincho) literally translates to “spike”, referring to the style in which these bite sized dishes are served on a stick. TXA brings a piece of the Basque Country to Singapore, creating a space for friends to come together and share in an ever-changing menu of Spanish snacks. One thing does stay the same, however, and that’s their burnt cheesecake, served the traditional La Vina way.
2. Tipsy Penguin
The array of internationally-inspired dishes sends plenty of locals huddling around the table at Tipsy Penguin. The team here isn’t dedicated to just one cuisine and are passionate about serving the most delicious parts of every culture, from the Western world to Asia and Europe. Spain’s signature cheesecake easily makes the list, and the dessert – coined ‘the accidental cheesecake’ is served warm and gooey with a scoop of honeycomb ice cream.
3. The Kins’ Cafe
Specialty coffee, all-day brunch and modern fusion dishes are the main event at The Kins’, a trendy cafe located inside Bijou Condo. But what’s a meal or morning coffee without something sweet to finish it off? Go classic with the signature Kins’ Burnt Cheesecake or Houjicha Burnt Cheesecake, a Japanese green tea spinoff. Whichever one you choose, you’ll be in for a soft, silky smooth treat.
Kins’ Burnt Cheesecake: $8 Houjicha Burnt Cheesecake: $8.50
4. The Orchard Cafe
The pastry team at The Orchard Cafe put their own local spin on the traditional Basque Cheesecake. Inspired by their love of durian (a.k.a. the king of fruits), their version is a celebration of Singapore’s multiculturalism. Featuring the typical dark outer crust, The Orchard Cafe’s cheesecake interior is irresistibly creamy and custard-like, but delicately laced with the flavour of D24 durian. Gula Melaka (a.k.a palm sugar) and coconut milk is added for an extra smooth and indulgent consistency that strikes a perfect balance of sweet and tart.
Whole 900g cake: $49.30
5. Bakery Brera
Almost every pastry, bread and cake craving can be attended to at Bakery Brera. Croissants and cruffins, baguettes and brioche, scones and sourdough… And one of the most beautiful (and shouted about) Basque Burnt Cheesecake recipes on this list. In the past, Bakery Brera has experimented with matcha and houjicha flavours for their cheesecake and even took things up a notch with burnt cheese croissants. However, the classic is always readily available to pick up or order online. Grab just a slice for yourself or get the whole cake to share with friends and family.
Slice: $8 Whole 8” cake: $8.50
Owned by a home baker, Paparch really took off on social media since the beginning of circuit breaker – where the Basque cheesecake trend saw a massive resurgence. Specialising in burnt cheesecake and only burnt cheesecake, the small local business bakes up a halal version that has a perfectly executed melt-in-the-mouth cream cheese filling. As well as the traditional recipe, Paparch has also experimented with a matcha version which the town went mad for. Selling whole cheesecakes to order, the biz has become so popular that customers have to book a month in advance to secure a cake. Is it worth the wait? Hell yes.
$49 (plus $10 delivery fee)
7. Olivia Restaurant & Lounge
If you’ve ever wanted to go to Barcelona, here’s your chance. Olivia Restaurant & Lounge captures the life and soul of Spain’s coastal town, both in the ambience of their beautiful designer interior and on the plate. However, when it comes to dessert it’s all about that Basque influence. With an almond sable at the base, Olivia’s chefs use heavy cream cheese and blue cheese to achieve a wonderful sweet and savoury cheesecake interior. Unlike the rather quick classic, this one takes a whole day to create.
Slice: $14 Whole cake: $80