April 19, 2009
Sweet whiff of waffle
From sugary to savoury flavours, the waffle is booking itself a spot on Singaporeans' new-love list
By Huang Lijie
Waffle mania is in the air. The irresistible aroma of this freshly baked treat is wafting everywhere from heartland bakeries and hawker centres to dessert cafes and restaurants.
Diners cannot get enough of this toasty concoction, which attracts 10 person-long queues and sells by the hundreds at some outlets.
The increasingly ubiquitous golden cake is also available in myriad variations that play on different textures, shapes and flavours.
As a mark of its widespread appeal here, waffles, which are priced from as low as 80 cents, are now available in distinctly Singaporean flavours such as durian, chicken floss with mayonnaise and otah.
According to food and cooking encyclopaedia, the Larousse Gastronomique, waffles evolved from obleios, flat cakes cooked between two metal plates by the ancient Greeks. In 13th-century Europe, the plates were fashioned after a honeycomb pattern, which has become the characteristic mould for waffles today.
The cake may be made from a batter or dough base and its basic ingredients include flour, eggs, milk and butter.
One of the latest retailers to roll out this tantalising treat is Crystal Jade My Bread, which offers nine flavours including condensed milk.
Its spokesman says the decision to introduce waffles was prompted in part by customer request and since its launch late last year, sales of its waffles have been brisk.
She says: 'The aroma of the waffles, which are made to order, captures the attention of customers in the store. So even if it takes about five minutes for each waffle to bake, customers are willing to wait.'
Beyond its enticing fragrance, customers also enjoy sinking their teeth into waffles because it is a food item for all occasions and appetites.
Property agent Hazel Toh, 50, who is a fan of the waffles at Sun Moulin, enjoys them as a light snack when she is on the go.
Student Valencia Ho, 18, however, has waffles for dinner because it is a cheap, tasty and substantial alternative to sandwiches and buns.
Indeed, these hot cakes are so popular at bakery chain PrimaDeli that it sells more than 63,000 pieces a week at its 37 stores. And sales of its waffles continue to climb steadily over the years, with a year- on-year increase of about 10 per cent.
This baked treat also brings in the dough for some retailers because of its high profit margin.
Mr Chan Yoke Meng, 34, a manager of Bake Inc, which has more than 15 bakery outlets islandwide, says: 'The cost to make waffles is not very high, so our profit margin is about 50 per cent and this is slightly higher than some of the bread items we sell, such as those with meat fillings.'
One of the most common waffles sold here is the Brussels-style waffle. It is also known as the American-style waffle after the Brussels version gained popularity in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.
This batter-based creation is crisp on the outside, fluffy inside and generally has deep grooves. It is found in dessert shops such as Gelare, where it is served unfolded with maple syrup and ice cream.
It is also available as a savoury item on the menu of restaurants such as Waffle Town in Bukit Timah Road where it is paired with eggs, ham and sausage.
At casual restaurant OrganiCafe Xperience, which has three outlets including one in Novena Square, smoked salmon is sandwiched between two fluffy pieces of its organic-flour waffles for greater sophistication.
Liege waffles, named after its Belgian city of origin, are made from dough, and yeast is typically added to it. Hence, it is denser and more chewy than the American or Brussels version.
It is also characterised by its coat of caramelised pearl sugar, which lends it a sweet crunch.
Liege waffles are available here at shops such as bakery chain Sun Moulin and dessert store Sweet Stone Parad'Ice in Golden Mile Food Centre.
At dessert chain Bakerzin, French-style waffles are served. According to its chief executive officer Daniel Tay, egg whites whipped to a foam are folded into the batter to give a lighter texture. The restaurant serves it with strawberry sauce and ice cream.
Japanese waffles have also captivated tastebuds here.
At Japanese chain restaurant Shokudo, thick, fluffy waffles are paired with Japanese toppings such as candied chestnuts and matcha (green tea) ice cream.
Taiyaki, a Japanese waffle made from a fish-shaped waffle iron, is also popular here. Ooki Taiyaki, a newly opened shop in Raffles City Shopping Centre, offers its taiyaki with fillings such as Japanese red beans and cinnamon-spiced apples.
As for the waffles sold in neighbourhood bakeries, it is usually much thinner and studded with smaller grooves than other versions. It sometimes sports a green jade-like hue because pandan leaf extract is added for a more delicate flavour.
Mr Chan of Bake Inc adds that coconut milk is also included in its batter to lend the cake an irresistible aroma.
Another quirk of these local waffles is that they are usually folded in half and eaten like a sandwich with a filling such as peanut butter and kaya.
At Waffle Factory in Eunos Road, where more than 40 types of fillings are available, stand-out flavours include mayonnaise and chicken floss, otah and durian.
While some might baulk at the fusion of a baked treat of Western origin and the popular local fruit durian, housewife Lin Yoke Foon, 40, is a fan of Waffle Factory's exotic creation.
She says: 'There are so many places selling waffles these days and they usually come with the same fillings or toppings. A flavour like durian, however, keeps things fresh and interesting.'
Take your pick
Where: Esplanade Mall 01-06/08, 8 Raffles Avenue, tel: 6235-9556
Open: 11am to 11pm, Mondays to Thursdays; 11am to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays
What: Two waffles with a choice of cherry stew ($10) or strawberries ($13).
Sweet Stone Parad'Ice
Where: Three outlets including Golden Mile Food Centre 01-67, 505 Beach Road, tel: 9738-9868
Open: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily
What: Bready, chewy Liege waffles coated with pearl sugar, $1.80 each and $2.50 with Belgian chocolate dip.
Where: Goldhill Shopping Centre, 155 Thomson Road, tel: 6254-6629
Open: Noon to 11pm, Sundays to Thursdays; noon to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays
What: The waffle comes with a side of chocolate sauce, $2.50 each and $5.50 with a scoop of ice cream.
Where: Isetan Scotts Basement 1, 350 Orchard Road, tel: 6733-1111
Open hours: 10am to 10pm daily
What: Plain ($1.50) or chocolate ($1.60) Liege waffles. From now to next Sunday, green tea ($1.70), orange ($1.70), coffee ($1.60) and very berry ($1.80) flavours will also be available.
Where: Four outlets islandwide, including Suntec City Mall 01-140, 3 Temasek Boulevard, tel: 6836-7530
Open: 10am to 10pm daily
What: American-style waffles served with butter and maple syrup ($4) or a scoop of gelato ($6).
Where: 10 outlets islandwide, including Paragon 02-09, 290 Orchard Road, tel: 6333-6647 Open: 10.30am to 10pm, Sundays to Thursdays; 10.30am to 11pm, Fridays and Saturdays
What: French-style waffle ($8.20) served with a scoop of cream cheese ice cream and strawberry sauce.
Where: Clementi Arcade 01-04, 41 Sunset Way, tel: 6463-3365
Open: 11am to 9pm, Mondays to Thursdays; 11am to 10pm, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 to 9pm, Sundays
What: Each waffle comes with a scoop of ice cream and a choice of chocolate sauce or honey ($5.50).
Where: Three outlets, including Orchard Building 01-02, 1 Grange Road, tel: 6887-4803
Open: 7am to midnight, Sundays to Wednesdays; 7 to 3am, Thursdays to Saturdays
What: Its savoury salmon waffle ($12.90, below) has smoked salmon slices sandwiched between fluffy waffles.
Where: 18 outlets, including 01-314 Block 762 Jurong West Street 75, tel: 6794-9589
Open: 7am to 10pm daily
What: Its waffle batter is flavoured with pandan extract and coconut milk and comes with fillings such as peanut butter ($1.20).
Where: Singapore Post Centre B1-03, 10 Eunos Road 8, tel: 6747-2806
Open: 9am to 10pm daily
What: More than 40 types of fillings to choose from, including durian ($2.50).
Where: 37 outlets islandwide, including 01-512 Block 513 Bishan Street 13, tel: 6358-3445
Open: 8am to 10pm daily
What: Its popular waffles come in six flavours, including kaya ($1.40).
Where: 11 outlets islandwide, including Causeway Point 03-37/38, 1 Woodlands Square, tel: 6891-2665
Open: 10.30am to 10pm daily
What: Brussels-style waffles. A popular choice is its frutti-trutti waffle topped with peach, strawberries, fresh cream, strawberry sauce, and a single scoop of ice cream ($11).
Out Of The Pan
Where: Raffles City Shopping Centre B1-45, 252 North Bridge Road, tel: 6431-6103
Open: 10am to 10pm, Sundays to Thursdays; 10am to 10.30pm, Fridays and Saturdays
What: Four choices including wholewheat walnut waffles with honey ice cream, $13.50.
Where: Raffles City Shopping Centre B1-49, 252 North Bridge Road, tel: 6338-7119
Open: 10am to 9pm daily
What: Its fish-shaped waffles come with fillings such as red bean ($1.30) and ham and cheese ($1.80).
Where: 43 outlets islandwide, including Suntec City Mall B1-018/019, 3 Temasek Boulevard, tel: 6337-2401
Open: 8am to 10pm daily
What: American-style waffles served with scrambled eggs ($3.90).
Where: Four outlets islandwide, including Bugis Junction 01-53, 200 Victoria Street, tel: 6338-9216
Open: 11.30am to 10.30pm daily
What: Its thick, fluffy Japanese waffles come with toppings such as candied chestnuts (from $2.80 for a plain version).
New York New York
Where: Nine outlets islandwide, including Citylink B1-47A,1 Raffles Link, tel: 6341-9695
Open: 11am to 10.30pm daily
What: A popular choice is its waffle topped with honey and ice cream ($7.90).
Where: Balmoral Plaza 01-02, 271 Bukit Timah Road, tel: 6836-6536
Open: 11am to 10pm daily
What: It serves five varieties of savoury and sweet waffles, including waffle a la mode, which comes topped with fruits and ice cream ($5.30).
Crystal Jade My Bread
Where: Five outlets, including 01-70 Block 470 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, tel: 6397-2321
Open: 9am to 10pm daily
What: Its waffles come with a variety of fillings, including cheese ($2.50).