Ms Teatime Says:
I am sure you have heard of BAKE, the takeaway-only Japanese bakery chain that managed to attract long queues despite the fact that they sell only one item, baked cheese tart. And they don’t even offer different flavours. Basically, the only thing you get to choose is the number of tarts you are buying; minimum of 1, maximum of 12 per person.
According to BAKE, the reason they sell only one product is to maximise output and minimize time taken from oven to customer, thereby ensuring that their customers can enjoy the freshest tarts possible without it being sold out. Unfortunately, in Singapore, demand exceeds supply and sometimes the tarts still get sold out.
BAKE cheese tarts originated from Kinotoya chilled blueberry cheese tarts. Kinotoya was a western confectionery shop in Sapporo, Hokkaido that sold cakes and chilled blueberry cheese tarts. One day, Kinotoya inadvertently sold freshly baked blueberry tarts instead of chilled ones and unexpectedly, a queue began to form! And that began Kinotoya’s sale of freshly baked tarts.
To guarantee oven fresh tarts for their customers, Kinotoya merged their pastry kitchen and retail shop into one and eventually removed blueberries to cater to a wider range of customers. In 2011, their baked cheese tarts were brought to Tokyo (and later overseas) under the new brand, BAKE.
With the backstory out of the way, we get to the main point. Are these tarts worth the hype and queues?
Having tried most of the local variants, I think that BAKE’s cheese tart certainly tastes different from our local cheese tarts and is in a league of its own. So, when I do want a cheese tart, I'm definitely going to think of BAKE first! Nonetheless, while I will willingly surrender S$3.50 for one tart, I will not queue more than 10 mins for it. Make no mistake; this is one outstanding cheese tart. Unfortunately for BAKE (fortunately for those queuing), I am a flexible person. I am happy to eat an outstanding chocolate tart in place of cheese tart if I needn’t join long queues. But if you MUST have a cheese tart when you think of one, I suggest you queue.
The pastry crust of BAKE’s cheese tart is made from cookie dough then double baked to give it the flavourful, crunchy (but not hard) and non-crumbly texture. For the fillings, BAKE blends three different types of cream cheese (from mild to full bodied ones) to create its unique cheese mousse. And, this distinctive cheese blend is the thing that caught my heart!
My first BAKE cheese tart was a gift and a chilled one. When cold, BAKE’s cheese filling is heavenly. The flavourful cheese blend got the balance between salty and sweet just right for me. Couple that with the deliciously smooth and melt-in-the-mouth texture, I immediately understood the hype surrounding BAKE. Till today, chilled remains my favourite way to eat BAKE cheese tarts.
When frozen, the taste of the cheese became slightly weaker and took on a sherbet's texture. This is the version I like least perhaps because I am not into cheese ice creams. For your reference, I never order cheesecake flavoured ice creams.
Fresh from the store or oven, the filling has a mousse-like consistency that is pillow-soft and fluffy. Flavours are also more pronounced. I reckon this will find favour with people who like stronger and saltier flavours. But I prefer the slightly muted flavours when the cheese is cold. Texture is also too fluffy for my liking.
Pastry wise, the crust is more cake-like when cold and frozen. Fresh from the store or oven, it is crunchy with a nice aroma. Naturally, the crust tasted best when it's warm and oven-fresh.
With 4 different ways to eat BAKE’s cheese tarts, each one tasting differently and catering to different palates, there is bound to be one that suits you! So if you haven’t tried BAKE, go try it!
For those who have, which of the following is your favourite way to eat BAKE's cheese tarts?
- Cold After Refrigeration
My personal favourite because the chilled cheese fillings took my heart! This should suit lighter palates.
- Fresh From The Oven (Immediately after purchase or Warmed Up at home)
This is my second favourite because the crunchy crust is so good. I also like warm tarts in general. This should suit strong palates who like warm tarts.
- Room Temperature
For me, this is not too bad. I think this will suit strong palates.
- Frozen After Freezing
This is my least favourite. This should suit very light palates who also like sherbet in cheese flavour.