No Bread? Let them eat cake!

This article was published by Freeman Cebu dated January 19, 2005
By Dr. Nestor Alonso II

Once upon a time in France, there lived a King called Louis XVI and the wife was Marie Antoinette. The year was 1789 and after a long hard winter, there was very little food (the French have not invented the kimchi and only my faithful followers can understand this) and the Royal Treasury was bankrupt after supporting America in their revolution against France’s traditional adversary, England.

When the Queen was informed that the people had no bread to eat, Marie Antoinette was reputed to have said, “then let them eat cake.” And when people are hungry or angry, revolutions starts, heads start to roll like tenpins or duckpins. Both the King and Queen were beheaded (a few thousand heads followed) in 1793 at the guillotine. Ouch!

Fortunately in our country, most especially in recent history, EDSA revolutions have been relatively peaceful and people can still eat both bread and cakes. And in Cebu, we have LEONA that can satisfy all your bread, cakes and pastries desires.

Located at 65 Juan Luna St. Mabolo, (phone 233-0386), this shop was established in 1999 by Mrs. Leona Ong and managed under the principles of traditional Chinese business. All members of the family participate in managing the various aspects of the business.

Leona (a nutritionist for 30 years) owes her business to the Egyptian who are credited to be the first people to make bread. The paintings on tombs show that flat aiysh still served today) was offered to the gods.

The production of bread and cakes starts with grains like wheat (most common), barley, millet, oats, corn and even rice. The wheat is milled (repeated grinding and shifting) and what is left is the endosperm while the bran and germ are removed.

The type of endosperm classifies the wheat as either hard wheat or soft wheat. The former has vitreous endosperm that forms into clumps and is used to make bread. Soft wheat has a mealy white endosperm which is soft to touch, and is used to make cakes.

Wheat flour contains flour protein that form gluten, an insoluble elastic mass that gives structure to baked products with bread flour containing 12-14% protein while cake flour has a lower protein 9%.

Multi purpose or all-purpose flour has blends of both soft and hard wheat while whole-wheat flour remains a virgin but easily turns rancid since the germ contains some fatty material.

Most bread is leavened: that is, yeast is added to the dough to initiate fermentation (wow, chemistry na pod!). Carbon dioxide is produced and gasses are trapped as tiny  air pockets inside, producing lighter and airier bread. Unfortunately, some bread sold in the market have too much air inside that you can practically breathe the trapped gassed inside. Perhaps, it can be used as a subsitute facemask during a SARS outbreak!

Other ingredients that may be added are water, milk, salt, sugar, butter, eggs, fats, nut, herbs, and spices, depending on the mood of the baker. Bread connoisseurs however want their bread au naturel, unadulterated by other flavours to savour the bread’s unique taste and texture.

The ingredients are then mixed and kneaded which makes the gluten stretched and the dough elastic and in combination of the yeast give the bread a light springy nature. In the absence of machines, the baker will benefit with the exercise, and perhaps a seat or two, into the dough enhances the taste.

Rising follows next (pleasurable, like watching your baby grow), then knocking back (gases are redistributed), shaping (sexy bodies, the bread, off course) and the final rising.

This is followed by slashing (to allow escape routes for excess gas), glazing (bread slang for make up), topping (more facial botox) and finally, baking. Whew! Palit na lang ug pan oy!!

At Leona Cakes and Pastries, the choice seems to be endless.

Classified under refrigerated cakes (with icing) are the following tiramisu (highly recommended), rocky road, moist chocolate cake (delicious), carrot cake, Japanese cheesecake, choco fudge cheesecake (sinful), mango cake (starts with fresh mangoes), and others.

Under the Loaves section, we have prune cake (great for sourcing dietary fibers), apple walnut cake, banana nut cake, choco banana cake, etc. Several Chiffon cakes (it’s called a chiffon if there is a hole in the center of the cake, no icing please) are also available: mocha, guava (something exotic), strawberry, pandan, angel, orange, ube and the ubiquitous chocolate chiffon.

The bread section offers a rather wide selection: raisin, sliced, marble, French (as good as a French baker can make), flossy pork bread (Chinese bah-ho reinvented to become a bread), meat rolls (convenient for a quick bite for the hungry-on-the-go), multi-grain, pan de sal, etc…

This bakery followed the traditional path of business: started as a hobby, family and friends tasted the wonderful baked creations, encouragements followed, some failures occurred but more successful concoctions ensued, more tasting and Leona Cakes and Pastries Co. was born.

But what makes this establishment different from your friendly neighbourhood bakery is the underlying passion of the Ong family to “introduce recipes based on inspiration” According to Jane-Jane Ong, they make cakes and pastries that they themselves want to eat.

And what cakes does your Food columnist desire? Perhaps French cakes like riz a l’imperatrice (moulded Bavarian cream with rice and glaceed fruits), peches Ninon (moulded vanilla flavoured pudding encircled by poached fresh peaches coated with apricot glaze) o glateau Saint-Honore (cream puff and pastry cream cake).

I also look forward to a large slice of Vienn’s spanich windtorte (egg white beaten into a meringue), haselnusstorte (beaten eggs and ground hazel nuts) or maybe the dobostorte (many layered sponge cake filled with chocolate cream glazed with caramel sugar).



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