Part 4: Chinese New Year at Saint Germain Bakery

Part 4: Chinese New Year at Saint Germain Bakery

A sweet beginning, or ending, to any Chinese New Year!

Part 1: Chinese New Year – Chinese Tea 101
Part 2: Chinese New Year Candies 101
Part 3: Chinese New Year Dinner at Fisherman’s Terrace

Welcome to my final post on Chinese New Year! What’s a celebration without baked goods or desserts? A boring one! I wasn’t expecting to make a stop at Saint Germain Bakery, but when I heard it was on the itinerary I was stoked. I’m a Saint Germain Bakery fan! It’s not my favourite Asian bakery in town (well it is for some stuff), but I do find their desserts quite impressive and well presented.

There are four Saint Germain Bakeries throughout Metro Vancouver. It’s one of the gourmet Asian bakeries and although a bit pricier than most other Chinese style bakeries, I find the quality well worth it. It’s not an authentic Chinese style bakery and the desserts and baked goods vary with some being influences by Japanese, Taiwanese or even French techniques and flavours.

Apple Caramel Cake… I think?

They also have some unique signature twists they put on their desserts, so everything is still uniquely Saint Germain. At times the desserts won’t be as good as the authentic versions, but nonetheless it’s not comparable when they call it a “modernized version”. Take for example the Apple Caramel cake above. It’s an American dessert, with European like appearance, but the taste is probably more suited for Japanese and Chinese. That just means it’s probably not as sweet and the caramel is probably very mild and it’s probably more mousse like than dense. I would assume it’s more apple focused than caramel focused and not heavy on any cinnamon as well… if I’m wrong I’ll be surprised. I feel like I’ve tried this years ago, but I don’t really remember.

This is the important part of my post! This is their Chinese New Year section, which include a variety of traditional savoury and sweet edible Chinese New Year gifts. It’s only available at this time of year so don’t miss out. Almost all Chinese bakeries will launch a series of these during this time frame, so it’s not only available at Saint Germain Bakery. Saint Germain does have an on site bakery at each location though and what they offer is a pretty good variety, although I’m not going to state whether it’s the best in town since I haven’t tried them yet. They are all authentic and traditional offerings specific to Chinese New Year. It helps that they’re nicely packaged and ready to give as gifts as well.

This is the turnip cake or radish cake. Perhaps the most traditional one of all, and my personal favourite of all the Chinese New Year cakes. It’s available at dim sum all year round, but special to Chinese New Year. It’s steamed and precooked but needs to be pan fried or re-steamed/heated before serving. I almost guarantee you’ll be able to order this at many Asian bakeries, or even some restaurants at this time of year. It’s delicious. It’s NOT a sweet cake. This is a savoury “cake” and it’s more like a super soft and mushy cake made out of pureed turnips. Think of it as Asian mashed potatoes with Shiitake mushrooms and dried scallops as well as the occasional Chinese sausage. The ingredients will vary depending on place.

They call them “Stuffed Peanut Fritters” but they’re more like hard fried savoury biscuits with a sweet filling of ground peanuts mixed with ground sesame seeds, honey and sugar. They’re actually quite good and crunchy with a sweet crumbly dry nutty filling, but I could do with a little less of the thick pastry. The outter dumpling like pastry shell is quite dry and crumbly and somewhat bland and more savoury than sweet, but not necessarily salty. It was also a bit hard for what I’m used to and I’ve had these better at other places.

I was with Tourism Richmond taking a media tour around Aberdeen Centre in celebration of Chinese New Year. Aberdeen Centre also has a Chinese fair Jan. 28 – Feb. 3 – see more here. I’ll also be on air with CBC Radio on Feb. 3 at Aberdeen Centre as well talking about food! Therefore the following desserts were on behalf of Aberdeen Centre.

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!! **: Recommend

Chestnut Cake – 4.5/6

  • About $2.80
  • Yummy! I love chestnut cake! I prefer Western or European style cakes, but if I’m going to have an Asian one, let it be chestnut!
  • This one had one of the thickest layers of chestnut and I liked how it was pure chestnut and didn’t have the whipped cream whipped into it.
  • It wasn’t the best chestnut cake I’ve had and I found the chestnut puree a bit overly spiced with perhaps cinnamon, which is very unusual.
  • It’s a creamy, thick chestnut paste and a bit grainy in texture with some actual bits of chestnut pieces throughout. It’s nutty and semi-sweet and I just love how much they give you.
  • The cake was super soft, fluffy and moist and I do love the sponge cakes at Saint Germain.
  • As always it’s never overly sweet, and the back of the cake is also crusted with toasted sliced almonds which was nice.

**Mango Mousse Cake – 6/6

  • About $2.80
  • 6/6 as a mango cake, but on the wide scheme of dessert 5/6.
  • Never mind! If I’m going to have an Asian cake let it be mango! Mango AND chestnut… I like them both!
  • Now, this could possible be one of the best mango mousse cakes I’ve had. I don’t know though, the one from Janice Bakery and La Patisserie are pretty damn good as well!
  • It was a a smooth creamy sweet and fresh mango mousse that was o light and airy yet rich with mango flavour.
  • I loved the playing of textures with this cake as well.
  • There was a sponge cake inside but the ratio of sponge cake to mango was 1:4! It was awesome!
  • Every bit was filled with creamy mango mousse and real pieces of fresh mango on top. there was also a thin layer of mango gelatin puree on top of the cake and under the fresh mangoes. I just loved how they used the mango in every form possible.
  • The sponge cake was incredibly light, moist and airy especially being incubated by all the mango mousse and fresh fruit. I simply loved this mango mousse cake.

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