I love cakes. They are a happy food because they represent celebrations, such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. But I do not like commercial cakes, the kind that are mass-produced by machine and all of them look the same. I like my cake a little unique, a little special, not too sweet but not bland either, aesthetically appealing but not overly decorated, embraced by a lingering scent of freshly baked goodness.
I have had my share of such dream cakes. I have tasted a few of them, and I have my favorites. Just recently, though, I found two cakes to love. Well, one is a cake, and the other is actually a pie. Both, however, were created by professional chefs whom I respect a lot. Their dishes — and desserts, too! — speak for themselves, uncompromising in quality and taste, and always with an exciting twist.
Ube cake with a twist
The cake happens to be chef Gene Cordova’s Best Butter Ube Cake under his new BB³C cake brand. BB³C is a virtual bakeshop which will soon open a physical store at Classica, along H.V. dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City. BB³C’s first product, Best Brazo Cake, has turned the usual roll-shaped Brazo de Mercedes into a naked cake that’s to die for. From there, chef Gene continued to develop new cakes, with the Best Butter Ube Cake as his newest baby.
An instant best-seller, Best Butter Ube Cake is not your typical ube cake. It is not the usual artificially colored purple round cake with perfectly chiseled icing around it. This ube cake comes in a natural mauve shade, with buttery French ube buttercream icing wrapped around a light and spongy ube butter cake. It is topped by a pool of ube custard, which is BB³C’s signature custard in ube flavor, crowned by two pieces of ube macarons de Paris. Hand-torn pieces of luxurious gold leaf sway on top of the macarons to give the cake a decadent look. Finally, the surprise of the cake! It’s actually at the bottom part of the cake, hidden under the ube butter cake — a thin layer of ube halaya for that delightful ending.
Best Butter Ube Cake does not look so ube as we know it, but it definitely packs in more real ube flavor than most ube-looking ube cakes. Besides, the mauve shade gives it a regal bearing, making it more special and exquisite from its look alone. Slice into it and give yourself a taste of dessert heaven — and, yes, of course you know it, the 24-karat gold leaf is edible. It might also interest you to know that BB³C sources its ube powder from a public school teacher in the province of Quezon who dehydrates ube and processes it into powder.
The cake, which is now a permanent item on the BB³C menu, comes in two sizes — seven inches, which has two macarons on top, for P795; and 10 inches, with three macarons on top, for P1,295. For orders, call 0915-7798791 or course them through BB³C’s Facebook (Best Brazo Cake) and Instagram (@best_brazo_cake) accounts. Delivery via Lalamove may be arranged.
And, oh, watch for the butter-orange biscotti with orange custard dip and the ube biscotti with ube custard dip, which are coming soon!
Brûlée-type banana pie
You often hear about apple tatin, which is like an upside-down apple cake, but Banana Tatin Pie? Yes, now there is one, and it is made by chef Gino Gonzalez of Chef Gino’s Kitchen.
It is an awesome piece of pie in a six-by-two-inch tin can, an interesting play on texture and marriage of flavors that are familiar to the Filipino palate but given a contemporary twist. The brûléed banana slices on top go perfectly with the creamy mascarpone cheese layer and the flaky caramelized sugar puff pastry crust.
Chef Gino actually created the Banana Tatin Pie back when his restaurant, Buenisimo, was new. He used to offer it as a plated fancy dessert. When he started the Chef Gino’s Kitchen line with his wife, chef China Cojuangco-Gonzalez, part of the plan was to have a pastry line, so he jumpstarted it by re-testing his Banana Tatin Pie recipe and improving it further in terms of flavor and balance so that people may be able to enjoy this dessert in the comfort of their own homes.
Having always loved this dessert, chef Gino made some for his family during the lockdown in 2020, and everyone loved it so much that it was gone in a few minutes. That was when he realized that his banana tatin was really good and that more people could enjoy it if he made it into a pie in a can. So he did, and then he launched it in a Valentine’s Day menu last February, bundling it with his Valentine Set Menu Take-Home Kit, and after that, people started ordering it on its own.
Now, Chef Gino sells it online via Instagram
(@chefginoskitchen) and Facebook (Chef Gino Gonzalez). Pick-up is an option, and delivery via riding apps can be arranged on client’s account.
With the Banana Tatin Pie taking off, more baked products are in the offing over at Chef Gino’s Kitchen, and they will be rolled out soon.