The best Hokkaido cheese tart
Bake Cheese Tart, which churns out a mind-blowing record of at least 35 million cheese tarts annually, became a Hokkaido cult favorite by accident.
The chain’s president, Shintaro Naganuma, attended a weeklong fair in Singapore in 2011 where he served chilled blueberry cheese tarts produced by his family’s three-decade old Sapporo-based confectionery, Kinotoya. On the third day of the fair, Naganuma ran out of paper boxes to store the tarts, forcing him to literally think out of the box and placing the sweet treats on metal baking trays, serving them warm instead.
To his happy surprise, the warm cheese tarts became a hit, and his booth sold 1,000 tarts a day from only 50. “I was shocked as I grew up eating my father’s chilled cheese tarts that was sold at his shop and always thought that was the best way of serving it,” he said in an earlier media interview in Singapore.
Upon his return to Hokkaido, he started selling warm cheese tarts, but he removed the blueberries and made the tarts a little smaller so that they are easier to eat.
Just as the demand was strong in Singapore, so it was in Japan that he decided to open Bake in Tokyo in 2014 to sell just one product – warm cheese tarts.
The chain now has presence in nine countries, with the two newest branches in Manila – one at The Podium, which opened on Dec. 22 and at Powerplant Mall Rockwell which will open on Jan. 11.
To keep the quality consistent, the tarts are made in a central kitchen in Hokkaido and are air-flown to Bake’s international branches where these will be brushed with egg wash and baked for a second time, thus the double-baked crust.
Served freshly baked or warmed in the oven, there is an almost sensual feeling as the cheese lava flows out from the crunchy crust. Chilled or frozen, the tart takes an ice cream-like texture.
The fluffy texture of the mousse is achieved using Bake’s original blend of cream cheese that finely combines tartness and creaminess with a subtle hint of salt.
“The cheese tarts are made of a complex layer of flavors that require an almost artistic detail,” Naganuma said.
“The cheese tarts may look simple but this recipe has been our best-selling product since. It takes years of practice and attention to perfect our recipe,” he added.
As proof that Naganuma’s innovation has set the cheese tart craze into motion, customers at Bake’s outlet at ION Orchard in Singapore have to queue for about three hours before being able to purchase the savory treat.
“We’ve come to observe that Filipinos are adventurous and hungry for global flavors. We believe that Filipinos will like our cheese tart and we want to share this gift with the Filipinos and the rest of the world,” the second-generation confectioner said.
“Therefore, whether you are having the cheese tart in Japan, Singapore, Korea or Manila, you can enjoy the same delicious and joyful experience because of its consistency,” Naganuma added.
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