My love for baking started with a simple craving for Food for the Gods. I wanted so much to put my own spin on it, I decided to bake a batch. However, let’s just say that if I had made the gods taste it, they would probably have cursed me.
But baking had to take a back seat. Circumstances led me to shift my focus to cooking because our family-owned business, Nipa Hut Restaurant, needed a kitchen operations manager then. Pursuing culinary at the Center for Culinary Arts, Manila (CCA Manila) was the next logical step.
My work at Nipa Hut opened new and exciting opportunities for me to explore and develop recipes. In 2014, I was invited to contribute to the book “The Filipino Family Cookbook” by now Lifestyle columnist Angelo Comsti. Two recipes, which I learned from my grandmother and eventually tweaked myself, Stuffed Chicken and Salmon Belly in Sour Miso Soup, were featured. But baking refused to desert me. A classmate from CCA Manila gave me a very good recipe for oatmeal-raisin cookies, so I decided to give baking one more shot. My attempt this time was definitely better! My cookies turned out great and I also learned several valuable lessons about baking—that it requires patience, some level of meticulousness plus technical skills, and most importantly, that I cannot tantiya the ingredients, unlike in cooking.
My love for freshly baked goodies made me attend the bread-making class of chef Reggie Aspiras. Here I formally learned the foundations and techniques. She made baking seem so simple!
Soft and fluffy
I enjoyed my class so much that the next day, I tried making my own bread. My renewed appetite for baking fed the bread monster in me. I made sure my bread were soft and fluffy, just like how my family and I love it.
My inherent OC-ness (obsessive-compulsive) also found a productive outlet in baking, as I made sure my bread would pass my strict personal standards first. It was really satisfying to be able to create breads that I could proudly serve to my family.
Later, my specialties would be Spanish bread, asado buns, brownies and an assortment of cookies.
Then 2020 happened. Since I could not go out to buy bread, I took the responsibility of regularly baking our own bread. I also used the free time to explore and expand my baking repertoire. I made my own version of the suddenly super popular ube-cheese pan de sal and Hokkaido milk loaf and gave samples to family and friends. I was not really thinking that this would start a baking business for me, but their glowing feedback gave me the confidence in my skills and my products. Beyond Butter (@beyond_butter on Instagram) was born.
The current situation is truly unfortunate, but it has also provided opportunities for home bakers like me. A big thanks to all who keep on ordering and posting positive reviews of Beyond Butter’s breads. I will continue baking with only the finest, handpicked ingredients, with utmost skill and care, and most of all sprinkled with a generous heap of love.
Coconut Pandan Milk Bun
368 g bread flour
1 tsp bread improver
2½ tsp instant yeast
⅓ c sugar
½ tsp salt
¾ c coconut milk
2 Tbsp evaporated milk
1 large egg
1-2 tsp pandan flavoring/extract (quantity depends on the brand you use)
45 g softened butter
In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients using whisk.
In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients well using whisk, too.
Make a well in the middle of dry ingredients and slowly pour the wet ingredients little by little while mixing using a spatula. Make sure the wet and dry are incorporated really well.
Add the softened butter in the dough and knead. Knead until the dough’s texture is elastic. Make sure you do not knead more than 10 minutes.
When desired dough texture is achieved, form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with cling wrap and put kitchen towel on top.
Rest dough for about 1-1½ hours or until size doubles. When size is doubled, punch dough to deflate. Divide into two logs and cut each log into smaller pieces of about 50 g each. Each log will yield about 6-7 portions.
Make each portion into a ball and place on your baking tray.
Rest by covering with kitchen towel for another 40-60 minutes or until portions become twice their sizes.
Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 150ºC for 18 minutes.
Serve with salted butter and tea or coffee. —CONTRIBUTED INQ
The author is a business economics graduate of University of the Philippines Diliman. She earned her master’s in Basic Education Teaching from Ateneo de Manila University. She coowns K.I.D.S. Center preschool in Mandaluyong City.
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