12 years and a pandemic later, this Filipino bakery continues to rise to the occasion

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PHILIPPINES (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN): Pearl de Guzman of Baby Pat Breads and Pastries finds herself pulling together an assortment of flavors in a bright, tight package of soulful ensaymadas, a spiral-shaped pastry made with yeast dough sweetened and topped with powdered sugar… But don’t let the color-coded wax paper wrappers fool you that this is just an array of vibrant specimens of another classic pastry.

In many ways, the home bakery stems, departs, and dedicates to a heartwarming legacy. Founded in 2010 in memory of her mother Patria Ramirez Macalindong, or “Mama Pat” as she’s affectionately known, de Guzman isn’t one to shy away from embracing her heritage and launching an experimental sense of fun.

“It was my way of keeping her alive in my memory and in my life. I grew up with her cooking and tending to our modest bakery, Pat’s Cake House, in Cavite City in 1976. The memory of my mother and her love inspires me to continue her legacy.

The power of flour

Granted, the pastry chef’s ensaymadas aren’t pushing the envelope on their own with the kinds of relatable local ingredients on display. However, the constellation of products is worth wallowing in for the simple reason that they are delicious products of Filipino heritage.

Where others may feel overdone with their flavor game, nothing here screams artificial. It’s just a celebration of decadence that flirts with high-quality execution. As you might expect, the classic ensaymada is good with enough textured sugar coating to contrast the slightly chewy dough; rich but not overwhelming.

For the love of local

Meanwhile, De Guzman’s forays into local flavors see her exercising her understanding of the Filipino flavor palate.

“An ensaymada with ube halaya (purple potato jam) is traditional. It’s one of the baked goods my mom’s bakery was famous for,” she says. His version that incorporates queso de bola (cheese) is a fleshed-out piece of his Caviteño heritage and a need to cater to the sophisticated tastes of today’s generation of widely-traveling Filipinos.

You can also see it on the Speculoos ensaymada where the generous smear of cookie butter spread looks set to keep appetites busy all day long. “My son Patrick loves this flavor he discovered in the Lotus Biscoff cookies served as a snack on a Delta flight,” she says.

You taste the creamy, caramelized flavor of the gingerbread and the heft of the dough with every bite, and unlike other ensaymadas, the taste doesn’t get lost in fluff or air. Shelf life is also a strong point – you can refrigerate or freeze them for up to two months.

Thinking beyond the pandemic

Baking, baking, and perfecting baking can be one of the toughest demands of running a home bakery, but hard work alone isn’t a silver bullet to the knocks of the current pandemic. Even so, de Guzman took on the strange world affairs head-on.

“The disruption has forced us to improve our health safeguards for the bakery and (an) online system for business transactions. While personal pickups and order drop-offs have declined, door-to-door deliveries have increased,” she says.

The fact that de Guzman has used this time to improve and help delivery service providers is proof that maintaining a legacy brand doesn’t just mean sticking to what has always worked. There is something to be said for crafting a business plan to adapt to the signs of the times, especially now that Filipino consumer behavior and taste preferences are constantly swirling in dynamic directions.

“I am aware that times have changed and so have the tastes and tastes of Filipinos as they travel, explore and discover new foods,” says de Guzman, admitting it’s a constant challenge for bakers like her who aspire to offer the best. possible products to an unstable Philippine market.

But if the versatility and execution of Baby Pat breads and pastries is anything to go by, everyone can find redemption in even the toughest of times. “Cook with pure passion and pleasure, constantly improve, innovate and commit to excellence,” she says.

De Guzman knows exactly what kind of products she wants to make and what kind of brand she wants to bring to the future: a confident bakery designed to meet and defy expectations.

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