• September 21, 2023

There Are 10,000 People Waiting for These Filipino Doughnuts. That’s No Surprise.

The Spanish government established the first bread bakery in the Philippines around 1631and Pandesal was born. It was originally made from wheat flour, chewy and crispy like a French baguette. But because the Philippines didn’t have a large wheat production, bakers eventually turned to weaker flours made from low-protein wheat, such as all-purpose or cake flour, resulting in the pillow-like, breadcrumb-dusted buns Filipinos know today. “It is the bread of our history, at the core of our culture, at the heart of our tastes,” writes Fernandez of Pandesal. “It’s brown and simple like the Filipino, good on its own or on its own, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It’s good, basic, and strong – just as we are and we want the nation to be. “

When Filipino immigrants moved to the United States, they brought these baking traditions with them. When you step into a small Manila, you can easily find a bakery mainstay with soft pandesal. Ensaymada, brioche bun with cheese; Chiffon cupcakes known as mamon; dacquoise-esque cakes with layers of buttercream, meringue, and cashew nuts aptly referred to as rivals; brazo de mercedes, a fluffy meringue roll filled with pudding; and all kinds of colorful kakanin. Some of these bakeries have become household names. Filipino bread house in Newark, New Jersey, has been around since the 1970s and is popular for its Swiss rolls and eube-flavored mango sponge cakes. Since its inception in 1979 Valerio’s town bakery has grown into a mini-chain with four locations in California, all serving out hot pandesal and white breads swirled with eube, cheese or mongo (red mung bean).

Sponge cake made of blood orange and dark chocolate with a coffee, coconut, chestnut and cream filling and Swiss meringue with cardamom and cinnamon spices

Photo by Jessica Joan Causing

Jessica Causing, owner of the JEJOCA online bake shop

Photo courtesy Jessica Joan Causing

Jessica Causing was inspired by her great-aunt’s 40-year-old bakery Gemmae bakery in Long Beach, California when she started her own online bakery JEJOCA, which is currently on hold. Gemmae’s is known for its Ensaymada, Pandesal, and Bibingka, but products have also been added over the years that combine Filipino flavors with American baking traditions, such as mango cream cheesecake and ube pistachio tart. “I grew up with a lot of Gemmaes stuff,” says Causing. “This collaboration between the flavors and the baked goods definitely inspired me.”

Even as foods made with Filipino ingredients became more common (Trader Joe’s Eube waffles!), Baked goods remained largely in the Filipino community. But with the advent of Instagram bakeries and other online platforms during the pandemic, more and more people are actively searching for these goodies.

When food writer Kiera Wright-Ruiz saw photos of Dusky Kitchen’s Pandan Polvorón, the Filipino shortbread, she knew she just had to try them. To them, they seemed like the “ultimate gift” at the end of a long day during the pandemic. “What I’m particularly interested in about Filipino flavors is the merging of cultures,” she explains. “I’m half Latinx and half Asian. In general, it’s just very interesting for me to see ingredients or dishes that I know from a Latinx perspective and see how this has been translated into Filipino culture. “

“They were unlike anything I’d ever seen,” says EmJ Hova, a tutor who discovered Kora on social media. “The donuts looked like a work of art. The vibrancy of the colors, the flavors and just the story Kim brought with her Filipino story and grandmother spoke it all [to me]. ”

After months of thinking about the donuts, she and her partner got their first kora box last fall. “I was amazed that you could make a donut that didn’t have chocolate, crumble, or just pudding. Everything was so unique and special. “

In our Instagram feeds, Filipino flavors and ingredients stand out in the beige baked goods landscape. This is one of the reasons Camara thinks they do so well on the platform. “I’m not surprised,” she says. “You can’t help but notice that vibrant purple hue as you scroll through your feed.”

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