When certified breadwinners start “making dough”, to me that is “winning”. Life (work, daily chores, TV, web-browsing,etc) has become mundane for most of us and after a while, even the whole experience of simply picking out and buying “so-so, poor quality” store-bought baked goods can become so routine that instant food enjoyment and satisfaction disappears fast. We beg for some changes, we no longer enjoy just taking the modern conveniences of life for granted, we now like to try new things. So when three ladies arranged for a 7AM baking workshop (a first for me to be so up early giving baking demos instead of enjoying my cup of freshly-brewed coffee and freshly-baked cinnamon rolls), I didn’t even have to think twice before agreeing. The inspiration of making breads from scratch was enough to get them through a full 8- hours night duty before proceeding to my place. Estrelle San Gabriel, Lily Tigas and Rosalina Villarama appeared all excited to “roll up sleeves” for a Full Participation/Hands-on Course on Making Ensaimadas (Cheese-topped Sweet Brioche), Sapin-sapin (Steamed Rice Cake), Ube (Purple) Chiffon Cake and Hopia. Except for Lily who already bakes special pandesal for her family regularly, Lina and Lily were bread baking newbies.
So what makes a good ensaimada? Light, moist, buttery-rich, cheesy soft pillows of “cloud 9” lusciousness. Hizon, Mary Grace, Malolos, Muhlach and Mrs. Cunanan are among the more successful ensaimada makers in the Philippines and have one common denominator: fluffy-soft. It is important then that ensaimada dough remains a sticky-wet dough. Estrelle, Lily and Lina soon realized making ensaimadas was very much labor intensive, but there was no stopping them from slapping, picking up and handling the dough because the end result was well worth the effort. In Ensaimada course, students also learn proofing the dough, shaping into coils, and application of simple ensaimada icing.
Sapin-sapin or purple, yellow and white layers and flavors of steamed rice cakes if not done right would be: bland, too soft and sticky making it difficult to slice and worst of all, too hard to swallow. Real cooked ube is stirred into the purple/violet layer. In Sapin-sapin course, students also learn to reduce the usual 1 ½ hours usual steaming time to less than 30 minutes.
We never say no to a serving of moist, airy and delightful filled and iced Ube Chiffon Cake at weddings or birthday parties. But baking newbies always find baking a chiffon cake too challenging and would rather stick to “cream-it, pour-it, bake-it” buttercakes instead. So Estrelle, Lily and Lina paid close attention to reminders of not underbeating egg whites , proper folding of all ingredients and not greasing the baking pans, among other things, to ensure baking a successful chiffon cake. In Chiffon Cakes course, a “not-too-sweet” and the only buttercream frosting recipe you’ll ever need is also demonstrated.
Bean-filled pastry or hopia involves 2 types of dough: water and oil dough to achieve that flaky texture. Lina enjoyed the easy way of enveloping the sweet tender mung-bean filling with the hopia crusts that she could see herself busy making hopia for next holiday’s gift-giving. In hopia course, a more flavorful mung-bean filling recipe is provided.