The Lifestyle Asia editorial team has a sweet tooth that cannot be denied, especially when that dessert comes served with a side of nostalgia. We’re talking about ondeh ondeh cakes, a modern reinterpretation of an old-school favourite.
We’ve covered our ardent love for kueh, traditional desserts served from hawker stalls that have been honing their craft for generations, and old-school cake shops with condensation-spotted display fridges glimmering with rum balls and jelly-lined cream cakes.
Today, we move on to the exquisite combination of all three, the motherlode of neo-heritage desserts (yes, we’re running with that term) — cakes from local bakeries that are inspired by local confectioneries. Although extremely popular for their rich marriage of pandan, coconut, and gula melaka flavours, the best ondeh ondeh cakes are only made with quality ingredients — just like its namesake dessert.
On that note, we’ve rounded out our favourite bakeries that make delicious versions of these tiered, creamy beauties. Here, your guide to the best ondeh ondeh cakes in Singapore.
Baking studio and cake shop, Baker’s Brew Studio, is known for its seriously decadent desserts, as well as their square layered cakes, visibly inspired by traditional desserts. Their chendol cake is the most popular, with its liberal use of gula melaka in a myriad of ways, though fans of fresher flavours can opt for their mango pomelo sago cake, a spongy delight accentuated with mango mousse and fresh pomelo, the latter giving the cake a welcome tinge of acidity.
The Malayan Council is a café famed for its fusion dishes, including its signature ondeh ondeh cake, where coconut flakes dress a dense pandan sponge, layered with a sticky gula melaka glaze with sugary crystals for crunch. It is a textural delight, doubly so when it comes served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Aside from making traditional kuehs, Chalk Farm also sells whole cakes that riff off kueh and desserts. Their spin on pulut inti, turned into a pandan layer cake with gula Melaka coconut filling, is one, sold alongside a chiffon range featuring flavours like pulut hitam.
(Image credit: @tjang.fonda)
Julie Bakes is a fully Muslim-owned and operated, halal bakery that has layered cakes inspired by heritage Malay desserts – badak berendam, a cousin to ondeh ondeh filled with coconut, is one, and a low-fat ondeh ondeh cake is another. We especially love the low-fat idea, especially because it spells more slices to be had.
Sinpopo is a traditional-style café that more than models its image after the yesteryears; it also makes its food as close to heritage recipes as possible, with modern interpretations. Apart from its tiered ondeh ondeh and pulut hitam cakes, Sinpopo sells a mille-feuille that harkens to kueh dadar, those green coconut and gula melaka rolls that make for the stuff of sinful snacking. Even the ever-elusive putu piring gets a makeover here.
For an ondeh ondeh cake that’s just as satisfying as the real thing, head to Ollella. All components of the cake here are meticulously made by hand; the pandan extract is hand-squeezed and the coconut gula filling is made with freshly grated coconut and then slowly incorporated over low heat with gula jawa — imported from Java Indonesia — to give more caramelised notes to the dessert. Expect the sponge cake here to be denser than the other chiffon-like options out there.
Soft and moist pandan sponge, layered with freshly grated coconut that been soaked with gula melaka — if this sounds like a proper treat to you, then this east-side cafe should be your next stop. The cake — coated with rich coconut buttercream — is a delight for any celebration or afternoon tea at home.
Now a best-seller here, W39 Bistro’s version of the ondeh ondeh cake sees moist pandan sponge cake swathed with smooth coconut buttercream and topped with shredded coconut. In between these decadent layers are lashings of more coconut that’s been slow-cooked in fragrant gula melaka, making it the ultimate treat for the weekend.