In the skilled and masterful hands of pastry chef Joy San Gabriel-Young, dough is transformed into feather-light cheese rolls, and chiffon cakes become soft as clouds.
Joy hails from a family of good cooks, so it comes as no surprise that she has made a career from food. Her mother Nora de Guzman San Gabriel is known for her kare-kare and buro. Her maternal grandmother Gliceria was a kakanin expert whose specialties were putong puti steamed with gata and anise, suman sa lihiya and kalamay with syrup and latik.
She fondly remembers how her mom and granny would cook together, collaborating on a production line of “kalde-kalderong pagkain.”
Their family includes five boys, so having a lot of food on the table, enough to feed a basketball team, was a necessity. Joy took on the role of capping the family meals with desserts, initially with simple recipes like brownies and cookies.
Her penchant for baking flourished in sophomore high school at Maryknoll. She would replicate the recipes that her home economics teacher taught in class.
To Joy’s delight, her brothers and their friends would devour whatever she baked. She continued to experiment in her mother’s Corinthian Gardens kitchen, baking breads and ensaymada for retail at the village clubhouse.
In 1997 she was asked to do a wedding cake. She accepted and has not stopped baking and decorating since.
Her cakes and pastries have made the lives of her clients sweeter, giving delight to their celebrations, from baby and bridal showers to baptisms, nuptials and 90th birthdays.
Joy has a deep understanding of the exact science of baking that she learned from her stint at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
She brings her creativity to the table by whipping specialty desserts for her patrons, from birthday party treats to an exclusive dessert line for a high-end restaurant.
Though I have not been privy to all her offerings, my personal favorites are the Tarta San Marcos (layers of soft and light chiffon filled with hand mixed crème brûlée filing), and her interpretation of salted caramel—chocolate cake filled with rich chocolate ganache. The cake is iced with fudge and slathered with salted caramel.
The ultra soft and fluffy melt-in-your-mouth cheese roll is another indulgence; there are two variants, the Classic (topped with butter and sugar) and the Quezo de Bola. The delectable rolls are baked fresh, with no preservatives and no extenders. Thus, they are best consumed immediately.
Joy takes pride in taking an active role in her kitchen and insists on being involved in every stage of production, especially the cheese rolls, which are not only delicious but are also meticulously packaged.
When I handed a roll to my sister Cristy, her eyes lit up and she said, “Wow, these are so pretty! They’re wrapped like jewels!”
Chocolate chip cookie
As an early holiday treat, Joy shares her Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe:
100 g muscovado
75 g brown sugar
120 g butter
130 g all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
330 g oats
200 g chopped couverture
In a bowl, combine sugars and butter. Mix until well combined.
Add egg until just combined.
Fold in sifted flour and baking soda, oats and couverture.
Let dough rest for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Line two sheet pans with greaseproof paper.
Using an ice cream scooper, scoop dough and arrange on prepared sheet pans, 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. For chewy and soft cookies, do not overbake.
If you want a crispier cookie, you may replace the brown sugar with white.
Log on to www.joysangabrielcakes.blogspot.com; tel. 5851107 or