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The burnt cheesecake that started it all

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Illustration by Glenzkie Tolo

Baking was always a hobby for Annette Alberto — a source of joy — and she never imagined it would one day land her in the public eye. From her mother, she learned to make pastries and, from there, to create the magical bites her loved ones have always enjoyed.

Sometime during this pandemic, this passion bloomed in an unexpected way. Her burnt cheesecake became viral on social media, thanks to one of her clients, Megastar Sharon Cuneta, who posted about it on her own account.
From baking on the side after a long day at her full-time job, her hobby turned into a business of good food.

In a conversation on Daily Tribune’s Spotlight show, Alberto revealed how she ended up with the perfect Burnt Basque Cheesecake that her friend who had traveled to Spain brought home and made her taste.

Without extenders, a cheesecake made by Annette is rich with real flavors. (Photographs courtesy of Annette Alberto)

“I did not plan on putting up a business, especially a food business, because I know it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to be able to make it but, so far, we have been blessed. I actually started because I baked this cheesecake, the original burnt cheesecake, and some friends actually wanted to taste it when I posted it,” she said.

Alberto would bake after a tedious day in a human resources company. The kitchen was her refuge when things got too much at work and her sole inspiration to create was her family.

Everything changed in 2019 when she decided to share her burnt cheesecake on Facebook.

“It just started with a post basically and then, all of a sudden, people started getting interested in it so they were asking me if I wanted to sell it or if I would consider selling it. And then after that, they started ordering,” Annette said.

Encouraged by her friends and her growing clientele from social media, Annette baked during nights to cater to some orders. And when she got Megastar Sharon’s unexpected nod, everything progressed like a dream.

Burnt Basque Cheesecake breaks all the rules of a conventional cheesecake, Annette says it is baked at a higher temperature so the outside part gets a nice tasty, caramelized finish.

Annette recalled: “Totoong Megastar s’ya. Wala akong masabi kasi after posting feedback about my cake, parang buong Pilipinas na ata ‘yung nakausap ko for several days, kasi they started calling, inquiring, ordering…”

And getting huge traction from her burnt cheesecake, Annette unleashed her explorer side and catered to customers’ requests on social media. She emphasized, however, that she is driven by her happiness to craft cakes and meals, not by the profit she receives. After all, she is after repeat customers and not mass bakes to maintain the quality of her masterpieces wherever it goes.

“When I make something and I release it, it also goes through testing. It’s not like I just cook it and then, that’s it,” Annette said.

Annette Alberto learned to make the Burnt Basque Cheesecake from scratch, experimenting until she got the perfect taste.

Currently, Annette does not only offer her sought-after burnt cheesecake but also other delicious options such as her Oreo Mud Cake, chocolate, coffee and fruit-based burnt cheesecakes. She also makes savory dishes like Lasagna, Salpicao and French Bistro Style Chicken, which she recommends for get-togethers.

More is yet to come for Annette’s growing food business, and her secret to sustaining this trajectory is simple: Open-mindedness.

Inspiring other aspiring business owners, especially in the same industry, Annette said, “You should always be open-minded and open to experiences — and things that happened to you, whether good or bad, you will always get something out of it. Sometimes, the bad things, you think it’s the end of the world, but actually, you derive a lot of learning from it.”

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