It was easier to answer that question from our restless kids whenever we were traveling on a long road trip! Now, in the midst of a pandemic, we could all use a salve for our anxiety or a way to put off thinking about the looming question mark that is the future.
Unsurprisingly, those who are stuck at home with no conclusive end in sight are hungry for ways to pass the time, judging by the sheer amount of Google searches about what to stream, easy DIY projects, how to keep kids entertained and how to “kill boredom” during a quarantine. At least now, we have Google.
As a response to present-day collective distress, millennials seem to have turned to weekend baking as a salve for the ambient anxiety of being alive. Baking has become a form of self-care, one that’s cheap, easy and visceral. When baking, one feels skilled, nurturing and virtuous in the present while distracted from the future.
Over the past few weeks, creative kids of several close friends have ventured into quarantine baking. They have turned to making dessert for comfort, and have now started a little business as well.
Cupcakes and cookies
First on my new bakers list is Dominique Lhuillier, 13, daughter of Jean Henri and Bea Lhuillier. From her love of making pastries for friends, Dominique decided to start her own pastry shop, Issy’s Pastries. Her recipe for red velvet cupcakes came from another baker friend. Check out her Instagram (@issys_pastries) and add a bit of sweetness to your day.
Two teen sisters with baking in their blood are Gabie and Zoe Geronimo, 14 and 12. They formed The Mad Batter and have mastered perfect handcrafted cookies.
Gabie and Zoe are the nieces of good friend Tessa Alindogan, who is also a quarantine baker. Baked with the finest ingredients, the huge 110-g cookies are incredibly scrumptious and addictive! No scrimping here, as only the highest quality couverture chocolates and other premium ingredients make it into their dough.
The Mad Batter (tel. 0917-3227422, @themadbatter.ph on Instagram) bakes the classics yet they also carry quirky flavors like Schizo and Captain Cornflake. The Schizo is definitely a must-try cookie since it has everything in it—three kinds of chocolate, pretzels, potato chips, Twix and rolled oats. Every bite has a different explosion of flavor.
Almond bark, Basque burnt cheesecake
Gabie and Zoe’s first cousin, Maxine Alindogan, also got into baking, a project she started in collaboration with Alejandro Miñana. The Sweet Stash PH (tel. 0915-3145398, @thesweetstashph on Instagram) sells the best almond bark in the metro. Made with Belgian chocolate and topped with toasted almonds, this indulgent snack will leave you wanting more.
The only daughter of Trina and Noji Alindogan is one of the 2020 college graduates who had a virtual graduation ceremony. She graduated from Boston College, where Alej is also starting his senior year. Alej shared his family recipe, to which both added their secret ingredients. These treats are deliciously sinful.
During the quarantine, Frances Lim, 21, daughter of our wonderful friends Franklin and Josephine Lim, stocked up on ingredients, since baking was her way of passing time at home. Because she accidentally overstocked on cream cheese, she had to think of a way to use up the whole block. She decided to make a Basque burnt cheesecake.
Basque MNL (tel. 0917-5835588; @basque.mnl on Instagram and Facebook) was created to share Frances’ uniquely delectable version of the famous burnt cheesecake. She also incorporated her own flavors and techniques to create the mouthwatering pastry.
Frances has two variants, Classic and The Perfect Match-a.
My travel buddy Pepper Teehankee has introduced me to the most mouthwatering bibingka in town. His goddaughter Timmie Samaco started Bibingka Manila (tel. 0917-5614997 or follow @bibingkamnl on Instagram), offering pure rice galapong bibingka before the quarantine. The recipe was from Timmie’s late mother, which she and her hubby Bojay developed and improved over time. What makes it special is the coconut that is mixed into the batter for an interestingly tasty flavor.
Bibingka Manila used to be sold at the Rockwell’s Baker’s Dozen. But now, to keep jobs for their bakers, it is available for pick-up or delivery from Valle Verde 1, Pasig.
They offer salted egg and cheese mini bibingka and, during quarantine, made an ube cheese variant which has pure ube halaya.
These aspects of the new coronavirus disease economy will likely endure even after the passing of the pandemic. So we may not have the answers to all the questions, but we can surely enjoy some sweet treats along the way!