There are many cafés in Seoul and most of them sell cakes and pastries! Many of the cake and pie shops in this list draw from French, American, and Japanese influences, but still cater to Korean taste buds, which means that these desserts are lower in sugar, but still big in flavor.
1. Best cake: Carrot Cake and Green Tea Tiramisu Cake at Michaya
446-59 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu (마포구 서교동 446-59)
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday: 2 p.m.-11 p.m.
Tel: +82 2 3143 3579
Signature cakes here include carrot layer cake(₩6,300). The cake has an intoxicating blend of nutmeg and cinnamon and cream cheese frosting on the outside and inside layer of the cake. Walnuts dot the moist interior, giving the cake texture. To balance the sweetness of the cake and the tanginess of the frosting, the cake is topped with slivers of orange zest for that subtle touch of freshness.
Try also their green tea tiramisu cake(₩6,300). A light and fluffy concoction of matcha and mascarapone, the five-layer cake is beautifully white on the outside and sinfully scrumptious.
2. Best pie: Chocolate Caramel Hazelnut Cake at Bewitch
533-8 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu (강남구 신사동 533-8)
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.,5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Tel: +82 2 3445 0529
Bewitch is a small bistro that sells comfort food: pasta, sandwiches, and pastries.
The lineup of sweets arranged on the countertop can change on any given day. On Saturday, a special confection is baked for this day only. While the berry pies are outstanding, the most delicious dessert was the lemon pound cake served with a tart and creamy lemon curd.
Another addictive best seller is the chocolate caramel tart. The bottom layer is gooey caramel with chopped roasted hazelnuts and the top is Belgian chocolate. It is sweet, but not too sweet, nutty, with a slight saltiness from the caramel. You’ve been forewarned: it’s addictive.
3. Best cheesecake: Fromage Cake at Pomponette
342-4 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu (마포구 서교동 342-4)
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Tel: +82 2 337 9006
Two sisters, Lee Jong-ah and Lee Yoo-eun opened Pomponnette in 2004. Jong-ah who studied patisserie at Tsuji, a bakery school in Osaka, Japan, keeps to the kitchen while Yoo-eun manages the register.
The cakes here have a strong Japanese sensibility: light, airy, with a hint of sweet. Most of the cakes are mousses on a sliver of cookie or cake, including the cheesecakes, of which there are two kinds: the rare cheese(₩4,500) and the fromage(₩4,500). The rare cheesecake has a layer of raspberry jam made in house along with a cheese mousse. The fromage cake has two layers of cheese, one baked, and the other a mousse. It has a richer, mustier flavor owed to the use of Pauly cream cheese.
4. Best pie-tart-cake: Caramel Tiramisu at Deux Crèmes
533-11 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu (강남구 신사동 533-11)
Opening hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-midnight
Tel: +82 2 545 7931
Pasteries at Deux Crèmes on Garosu are feats of structural engineering: depending on the type, they have multiple and alternating layers of fruit, cake, cream and jam.
This brings us to what, exactly these are. While at first glance they look like pies, a look at the crust reveals a thick, crisp crust used in tarts. These are tarts on steroids with heavy crusts to support what is commonly a traditional pie filling (like banana cream) or cake (like tiramisu). The best of these hybrids is the caramel tiramisu. There are six layers starting from the top: a layer of freshly whipped cream, caramel mascarpone, another layer of whipped cream, coffee cream, cake and chocolate. What is astounding is that each flavor comes through in every forkful. Tarts range from ₩6,500 to ₩8,000
5. Best tart: Chocolate Macadamia Tart at La Bonne Tarte
90-1 Daesin-dong, Seodaemun-gu (서대문구 대신동 90-1)
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-9p.m.
Tel: +82 2 393 1117
You can taste the love baked into the tarts at La Bonne Tarte, in a quiet part near the East Gate of Yonsei University, far away from the collegiate debauchery. La Bonne Tarte bake tarts using healthy, organic ingredients and avoid trans fats, margarine and shortening.
The chocolate macadamia tart(₩5,000) is simply delicious. The flavors in the chocolate macadamia tart shine through: the butteriness of the macadamia nuts melds with the caramel, which in turn is overlaid on a chocolate ganache.
6. Best “Korean-style” cake and tart: Kabocha Tart at Peony
403-15 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu (마포구 서교동 403-15)
Opening hours: Daily, noon-10 p.m.
Tel: +82 2 333 5325
Peony makes a génoise cake, a traditional Italian sponge cake that incorporates air into the batter to give the cake volume, and layers these with freshly whipped cream studded with strawberries. The chocolate version is complemented with bananas.
In autumn, Peony also bakes a tart made from a kabocha squash mousse that is sweet and slightly savory. The cream collapses nicely into the cake and the buttery crust which is full of flavour and texture! Strawberry cream cake(₩4,000) is also refreshing and light!