A neighborhood café pays homage to a mother’s recipe
Bakerē reflects on memories of home-cooking
On a warm July afternoon, Bakerē Café owner RJ Galang welcomes our team into his quiet establishment and regales us with tales of the woman behind the ‘E’ in Bakerē: his mother.
Eleanor Galang was already a housewife in the ’70s when she discovered her love and talent for the culinary arts. After taking cooking and baking classes, she then created her version of the quintessential ensaymada. Made as tradition intended it to be, her perfectly fluffed pastry that’s just on right side of sugary became a hit in the neighborhood, and Eleanor soon became known as Tita E.
Decades later, her cheese cupcake was rediscovered during her grandchild’s birthday party, where it was a success. The pastry was deceptively light, but anyone who took a bite ended up wanting more. With the boom brought in by his mother’s old-new recipe, RJ saw untapped potential in her home-based bakery of sorts. He began promoting her ensaymada and cheese cupcakes in bazaars, where they were easily crowd favorites. Encouraged by the success, the two have now set up shop in Kapitolyo.
At the forefront of the café is their display of pastries. Aside from their cheesy treats, Bakerē also has cookies, brownies, red velvet cupcakes, and brookies—a combination of brownies and cookies. A specialty is their grilled ensaymada and chocolate sandwich, which uses Risa’s 70 percent dark chocolate from South Cotabato; the bittersweet chocolate keeps the richness of the dish from being overwhelming. For the grilled ensaymada and ham sandwich, Bakerē cures their ham in muscovado syrup that’s prepared in-house. The result is a sweet and subtly savory meal that could serve both as lunch and dessert.
Bakerē also partnered with Toby’s Estate for a coffee program that complements their sweet treats and specialties. They’re offering exclusive specials like the Bicerin, a traditional hot drink from Turin, Italy, that’s made of espresso, drinking chocolate, and whole milk, served layered in a small rounded glass. They also have Espresso tonic, which is iced coffee in soda form.
From their newly minted kitchen, Bakerē is serving dishes reminiscent of RJ’s childhood as prepared by Eleanor herself. For their own version of lasagna, RJ had a special mold made so that all the corners of pasta dish would have that toasted cheesy goodness everybody wants.
But the pride of their kitchen is their BXU or their Butuan lechon sandwich. Since Eleanor grew up in Butuan, her children grew up eating the province’s trademark lechon: flavorful, garlicky, with the meat from the ribs as the main event instead of the lechon skin. Their sandwich is their sneaky way of introducing Butuan lechon to Manila, their way of letting city folks experience eating lechon with their hands, sandwiched between two ciabatta loaves.
Grilled ensaymada and chocolate sandwich; Turin, an Italian concoction of espresso, chocolate, and milk