Green Pumpkin Japanese Bakery Part 1- Mont Blanc
Serangoon Central was my “turf”, having lived in that neighbourhood for a good 14 years, spending the latter years of my childhood and early adolescent years there. Though we’d moved away for more than 10 years now, I still find myself frequenting the place, especially since I work near the vicinity. Shopping at NTUC Xtra and Cold Storage for groceries, browsing new cookbooks in the public library on the rooftop became much of a tea-time ritual before setting off to the evening appointments. Even so, I rarely dine there, save for some occasional visits to some delis in the basement or grabbing a sandwich at Subway when my tummy starts to rumble. This is because I’m usually there alone, lazing the afternoons away, or sneaking some time to grab some fresh produce when I’m in between appointments. That’s why despite walking pass Green Pumpkin Japanese Bakery umpteen times over the countless visits, I’d not opt for any takeaways from their cake fridge, as I’d feared that the delicate mousse or cream layers simply wouldn’t be able to make the trip home as I almost never go back directly, having to spend another couple of hours before heading home.
Hence, when the day came when I actually had the evening free, I didn’t have to think twice about grabbing a cake from the Green Pumpkin Japanese Bakery home for some photos and a quick sampling. In fact, I did better than that! I grabbed four…
First up is Mont Blanc, the pièce de résistance of French pastry making for many many Japanese dessert lovers. In fact, its so popular in Japan that I don’t recall visiting any patisserie during our trips to Japan that did not have Mont Blanc in some version or another. Perhaps this stamps from how the Japanese love chestnuts 栗 (kuri), extensively using it in cooking and wagashi making.
Green Pumpkin’s rendition was pretty standard in appearance, spaghetti strands of chestnut puree and paste-infused cream that spiral to form the prototypical molehill which was then gently dusted with “snow powder” and embellished with a shard of marron glacé and a single blueberry.
The base is made from a cut of disc of sponge, probably joconde.
The chestnut cream had a slightly overt sweet edge, tipping the scale a little on the heavy side but still acceptable for me. What I found severely lacking is in the department of aromatics. The piece was not perfumed as it should be, either from candied or roasted chestnuts, or from a dash of liqueur. The latter is pretty understandable as it was probably taking into consideration very young or Muslim customers. Nonetheless, I personally felt that it missed a chance to shine and would probably have added a generous splosh of crème de châtaigne or even rum/cognac for that extra oomph.
The texture of the chestnut cream was also rather disappointing. Could have been been made more interesting with tiny morsels of roasted chestnuts to break the monotony and for that smoky effect. But this has to be delicately balanced as it should not be misinterpreted as chestnut cream which hasn’t been processed finely enough. One should still be able to discern between the two.
What was most bizzare for me about the whole piece, was the incorporation of morsels of blueberries in the crème chantilly in the middle. Was it because the fruit was in season then and
cheaply widely available? Or was it because its designer felt that the fruity and slight spicy tones from blueberries could add dimension to the overall palate experience? Or was it simply because marron glacé was too lavish given the price one’s paying for the piece? I have no answers but for me, blueberries simply doesn’t make the cut and left much to be desired. Put bluntly, it “cheapens” the whole thing.
So for me, while there are positive notes about their Mont Blanc, the piece in its entirety is simply not there quite yet. Do let me know when they use the real stuff. 🙂
Kubocha Mont Blanc カボチャ モンブラン, Green Pumpkin Mont Blanc on the other hand was a totally different ball game. Firstly, I love the looks of the whole piece, jaunty egg yolk yellow spirals of pumpkin cream with embellished with a piece dried apricot as well as a single raspberry. Duncha just love the colours? 🙂
The composition of the piece is similar to the prototypical chestnut Mont Blanc, save for the hidden surprise in the middle, i.e. crème chantilly packed with morsels of finely chopped dried apricots. The latter has an almost jelly bean like texture, soft and chewy but not too hard. The slight hint of sourness from the bits of apricot was most certainly something which one wouldn’t have thought of, but in retrospect, amalgamated fairly well with the sweet pastry cream.
Similar sponge base
I’d always loved the earthy tones from vegetables like sweet potatoes, yam and now pumpkin. Their sweetness is often subtle and not overtly jarring, likewise in the green pumpkin spiral topping. Unlike the earlier piece, the pumpkin cream was not overtly sweet. So for me, this piece came together much better than Mont Blanc itself. Quite an irony I know, but ain’t life full of it to start with?
In short, I would say yes for the green pumpkin Mont Blanc but no for the prototypical chestnut one.
Green Pumpkin Japanese Bakery is really quite unique in its own right. Never in a local confectionery/bakery/patisserie have we seen and tasted such an extensive use of Japanese inspired ingredients, many of which have their roots in traditional wagashi making. Apart from the usual run-in-the-mill tsubushi’an (red bean paste) and kurogoma (toasted black sesame) used in an-pans, the pastry chefs also ventured to incorporate other flavours like yuzu, satsumaimo (sweet potato), kubocha (Japanese green pumpkin), sakura no hana (pickled cherry blossoms) as well as sakura’an, i.e. shiro’an (white bean paste flavoured with pickled cherry blossoms), as well as matcha into their works. Quite a feat if you ask me and thus needs to be encouraged.
Shop view photo source: http://www.greenpumpkin.com.sg
GREEN PUMPKIN JAPANESE BAKERY
23 Serangoon Central
#B1-80 Nex Shopping Mall