It isn’t named Best Brazo Cake for nothing. Truth is that its name speaks for the cake. BB²C’s Best Brazo Cake really is the best Brazo de Mercedes cake in the metro — and it does not even follow the norms of a classic Brazo because it is not a whole rectangular meringue cake layer spread with egg custard filling and rolled into a nice long, golden brown swirl that is commonly known as a cake roll. On the contrary, it takes on a round naked cake form with two fluffy soft meringue layers slathered creatively with a generous amount of custard cream in between layers and on top, with a lavish sprinkling of croustillant over the custard. No two cakes are even alike, as the meringue and the icing are allowed to take free form and create their own character.
“We look at our cakes as works of art,” declares Daki Fernando, a University of the Philippines Diliman Fine Arts professor and one of two partners who own and run BB²C.
The other partner is Gene Cordova, a pioneering culinary educator in the country and a professional chef classically trained in baking and culinary arts in Paris and New York. Chef Gene is the one who personally bakes the cakes while Daki handles the packaging.
Daki adds: “With our two creative minds, Chef Gene and I have put so much thought into how each Brazo should look like, given the parameters of the baking technique used and the textural feel of the cake that we want. With the way the Brazo is baked, it’s impossible to have your usual rolled or perfect round-shaped Brazo. We purposely do not aim for a uniform, perfect and usual pretty cake, as we aim to show the varying temperament of the process in baking the meringue — how it rises high up the pan with high heat and how it immediately falls flat with cool air. We then look at it as a process of assemblage, where we make the Brazo rise again by putting all the elements of the cake together. Then we curate with the cream based on contours of the meringue. What I’m saying is that we find beauty in seeing a different cake, far from the usual pretty. We find beauty in spontaneity and imperfections.”
BB²C started out as a passion project. When the pandemic happened, the lockdown gave them the time they needed to do what they had always wanted to do. They sold Best Brazo Cake only on the first week of December 2020, the recipe for the cake has always been there for the past 20 years. Constant practice and tweaking for an even more improved version of the cake has turned it into Chef Gene’s signature cake, which he baked for family and friends whenever there was an occasion. He and Daki traveled a lot, each time staying in apartments with a full functioning kitchen instead of staying in a hotel, thus enabling them to explore local markets and groceries, buy ingredients, and cook fresh meals. Chef Gene has also made it a habit to make Brazo wherever he travelled. Using different ingredients from the places he visits, he has already created a Florentine Brazo, Barcelona Brazo, Madrid Brazo, Montreal Brazo, NY Brazo, Mykonos Brazo, and Bangkok Brazo, among others.
His Manila Brazo, Chef Gene believes, is his best Brazo, because it is a culmination of all his trial and error efforts, freshness and quality of ingredients used, learnings from his many years of traveling. And just as the eggs, milk and butter he has used vary in taste from country to country, his Manila Brazo, which is now known as BB²C’s Best Brazo Cake, sources its eggs from a farm owned by Chef Gene’s family. So he has access to the freshest organic eggs to make all-natural, 100-percent butter, 100-percent vanilla Brazo cakes.
“The quality of the egg yolk is really different,” Daki stresses.
I say the best butter cake because BB²C’s Best Brazo Cake gave birth to a second cake, which they call the Best Butter Cake. The latter is actually an orange cake, and it is the exact opposite of the Best Brazo Cake because if the recipe for the Brazo has been there for the past 20 years, the one for the orange cake is something very new. Chef Gene only baked it during the lockdown. Inspired by the Schiacciata Alla Fiorentina and the traditional Greek orange cake called portokalopita, both of which he loved to eat, Chef Gene decided that he wanted to make his own version, and so he headed for the kitchen and made it. For three weeks, he kept baking the orange cake, whose core is butter cake, tweaking and improving on it each time, until he hit the perfect formula that made him happy.
The two cakes are now trending on social media and selling well — with the Best Brazo Cake coming in two sizes, the 6 to 6.5-inch round cake for P700 and the 10 to 10.5-inch round cake for P1,000; and the Best Butter Cake available in one size only, the 6 to 6.5-inch round cake for P650. From a circle of friends who have been fans of Chef Gene’s cooking and baking, word of mouth led to recommendations from these friends to their friends to friends of friends. People have also ‘discovered’ BB²C’s Best Brazo Cake and Best Butter Cake through social media, such as Instagram (IG) and Facebook (FB).
For orders, call 0906-5400522 or 0920-9385645 or course them through BB²C’s FB (Best Brazo Cake) and IG
And, oh, by now you would have figured out what the company’s name, BB²C, stands for: Best Brazo Cake and Best Butter Cake. Soon, it becomes BB³C to stand for Best Birthday Cake. What is it? Your guess is as good as mine. Coming real soon.