The latest confectionery creation of one bakery in Singapore? Cilantro cake. Collage: VICE / Images: Courtesy of Baker's Brew Studio
There’s no herb as polarizing as cilantro. Also known as coriander, some love the distinctive freshness it brings to dishes, while others absolutely despise its “soapy” crunch. And those who fall into the latter category can get very passionate about their shared distaste for it, forming huge online communities and establishing annual declarations of hatred for the herb.
In Singapore, one bakery is putting people’s love for cilantro to the ultimate test by baking perfectly iced cakes with a generous serving of the green herb.Founded in 2015, Baker’s Brew Studio is more known for its conventional desserts like brownies and cakes. But last week, it polarized the online crowd with a series of cilantro-themed cakes posted on its Facebook page.One such cake is topped with a daintily bowed bouquet of cilantro, while another is outlined by a wreath of cilantro with space in the center for icing messages. There are also cupcakes garnished with cilantro.Reactions on social media were a fair mix of cilantro enthusiasts and absolutely appalled pearl clutchers. While there were lots of green-faced vomiting emojis in the comments, some stood up fiercely for the tangy green plant—all to be expected for playing with the fire that is the notoriously polarizing herb.Emma Lim, the bakery’s marketing manager, told VICE that the cakes were the result of unexpectedly palatable success with a hilarious joke.“The coriander cake was actually designed for a colleague’s birthday,” Lim said. “She really loves coriander and swears by it for all her hot pot meals.”So, the Baker’s Brew Studio team decided to use cilantro in an experimental dessert to celebrate their colleague’s love for the plant. According to Lim, that first cake was made with vanilla cake, vanilla filling, and vanilla buttercream, and garnished with cilantro. They eventually made the cilantro-decorated baked good available for their customers.
“When we tasted it, it was actually not too bad! The crunch of the coriander against the vanilla was a pleasant surprise,” she said.Lim said that after receiving heartening responses and serious enquiries about the unconventional creations, they were inspired to develop a unique cilantro-flavored cake that infuses the herb into the cake batter for a “full coriander experience.”“Many of our audience have been asking us if the coriander was just for aesthetic purposes or [if] it will be coriander-flavored too, so we decided to make the flavor come true,” she said. The highly-anticipated cilantro-flavored cake will be launched on Oct 1. There are a few reasons why cilantro has fueled many gustatory debates. Researchers have confirmed that taste perceptions of cilantro are influenced by genetics. Meanwhile, some tend to be more accustomed to its taste than others, such as when the herb figures heavily in their culture’s cuisine.For Baker’s Brew Studio, the polarizing plant is part of a bold culinary gamble that combines its signature desserts with distinctive local flavor. Cilantro is sprinkled across a variety of beloved Singaporean dishes, such as oyster omelet and pork ribs soup served in the country’s iconic hawker centers.“This is our take on a uniquely Singaporean flavor,” Lim said.Follow Koh Ewe on Instagram.