Sourbombe donuts: Sourdough meets traditional Bomboloni with flavours like Basque burnt cheesecake and hojicha
Justice for donuts
Singapore stands as the ultimate success story when we're on the subject of food. The sweet spot where we can always fall back on to compensate for the lack of space and scorching climate. We have hawker stalls that are a true testament to irreplacable heritage and an impressive gastronomy scene spanning of a spectrum from bougie casual to fine dining. Everything else in between have also been well covered — think the holy grail of bubble tea franchises, famed American burgers, and the list goes on. Of course, not forgetting the swathe of cuisines that have been inherited from immigrants and influences from all over the world. In a small — and saturated — city like this, somehow there is something missing. Something in hindsight, when its hottest, most popular state was a time in mom-and-pop bakeries back in the day. The donut. You either pay half a dollar for a sugary torus or shell out $0.20 more for a stick of tiny donut balls. I was a fat kid who hankered after the latter everyday after school.
But somehow, somewhere between the arrival of disappointing franchises like Krispy Kreme, J.CO, Chewy Junior and the hype for churros, that donut artisan got lost. Singapore got lost. And there wasn't a go-to place that did the lineage justice — fried dough concealing a soft, cushy center, fillings optional. If I wanted a decent donut, I had to be seated at a restaurant, and those that even served it, were few and far between.
Until recently, where Sourbombe invaded the bulk of everyone's Instagram Stories. A burgeoning online made-to-order business by Masterchef Singapore runner-up Genevieve Lee and C.R. Tan. A chef and a creative specialising in food styling and photography. It's the perfect duo in our current times — where social media marketing thrives whether or not there is a pandemic in the foreground. It also helps that these Bombolonis, or "bombes" as what Sourbombe affectionately labels, live up to its viscerally stunning branding.
"I do love bread growing up and I appreciated a good bread, of which I mostly turn to sourdough-based products because of how complex and yummy it is. Sourdough is not dough that is just sour but dough that has been fermented to give a signature tang that keeps you going back for more. This complexity also elevates other flavours of bread like the natural sweetness and saltiness of the dough. Given that I like to experiment, I thought that sourdough donuts would be something I would like to eat," says Lee. Indeed, this was the brainchild birthed during circuit breaker, where close friends like Tan saw a real opportunity in spreading the joy of these donuts.
The bite of each bombe is where the real magic is at — the sour tang is present but not overtly, as it is met with the other elements of its flavour components. You get the heady saltiness entrenched with a smokey profile with the Basque Burnt Cheese (a trending flavour at the moment) and a piquant floral lime concoction with the Marscarpone Lime Lavender.
So how does the magic come to life? Lee says: "We start with the all important dough that is a lighter than a brioche bun recipe — enriched with sourdough. The dough is fermented for about 24-36 hours before rolling and frying into bombes. We also use coconut oil only to fry our donuts to ensure our bombes do not taste greasy. Our custards are made uniquely as well, each having their own set of steps. We try not to overlap flavors so that customers get a different experience with each donut, finding something new to love about each flavour! They are also a lightened-up version of custards that is not too heavy or sweet, highlighting the individual flavors more like salty sweet in the Marscarpone Lime Lavender, umaminess in the Basque Cheesecake and citrusy notes in the Passionfruit Banana."
Even with its glitzy custards in the picture, the dough in these bombes fearlessly holds its own. The crumb is crisp and sturdy while holding a good airy bite on its own. It's a real fun treat to devour all on your own, yet not something that will leave you comatose after a few bombes. There's also credit honed by a made-to-order batch. They're made on the day that they're delivered — with a small family team working from Lee's kitchen. Her mom, being a seasoned baker, takes charge of the dough while Lee works on the custards to make sure the flavours come out right. Her production line of filling, packing, and delivery falls on her brother, father, and boyfriend. Your bombes are best savoured right away, but even if you can't finish them in a go, the special care instructions on the box will tell you how to enjoy it over a span of four days.
For now, orders would have to be snag up given a limited time frame online, but as demand is steadily rising, Sourbombe is looking to set up a brick-and-mortar store in the future. The brand's presence marks another bragging right for our city, and for myself, it's a personal fulfilment that I finally got to witness after a long time coming. At last, I feel seen.