My friends know that I am a sucker for good cakes so many of them tell me that I should try Leona’s Cakes and Pastries in J. Luna Street, Mabolo, Cebu. Leona’s offers one of the best, if not the best cakes in town. Being out of my way, I never had the chance to visit the place until a few weeks ago to try their famous carrot cake. Then I went back for more.
Its Humble Beginning
“Leona is my mother’s name,” remarks Jane Ong, who is running the family business in front of their own abode. “My mom is famous for her traditional classics like pound cake, chiffon, angel cake, sponge cake and butter cake.” Before the bakeshop opened, her mom accepted orders from friends as a home business.
Building on their mom’s perfected recipes and baking skills passed on to them, Jane and three other siblings formalized the home order business when they opened the bakeshop in May 1999 with a few products to offer. Five years after, the quaint bakeshop con cafe offers more than twenty varieties of cakes, pastries and breads. They even have to move some tables and chairs to one side to accommodate the much-needed racks for breads and sliced chiffon cakes.
From 8:00 am until it closes at 8pm, Leona’s is never empty. Loyal customers troop to the place to get their daily ration of sliced breads, pastries and cakes. Some people stop for a slice of cake and brewed coffee over the cozy country style ambiance inside. The marble tables and wrought iron chairs for two are perfect for intimate private conversations.
Aside from the usual walk-in customers, Leona’s also accepts phone orders wherein customers can pick them up at an agreed time. Especially now during the holiday season, friendly staffs are busy taking phone orders as those who have tried the cakes would be very proud to present them as gifts to friends and family.
What Makes People Come Back
As Jane let me try a couple of their cakes, I understand why people keep coming back for more. Leona’s cakes are simply heavenly. Jane boasts that they only use the best and freshest ingredients. With fruit cakes, they use the fresh fruit itself, some of them they grow in their own backyard, instead of bottled artificial flavoring.
The Choco al Dome is sort of a chocolate mousse that is dome shaped and covered with premium chocolate frosting. Practically melting in your mouth, this sinful delight makes you forget how many calories there is to every bite.
Those who love sylvannas should try King Oscar. It is crunchy wafers layered with butter icing and generously slivered with almond slices. I am not very fond of butter icing but with the combination of the acidity from the strawberry topping, the creamy butter and the crispy wafer, this concoction is very hard to resist.
Leona also offers different flavors of chiffon cake the older customers prefer. They have the classic butter chiffon, orange, mango, strawberry choco, buko pandan and even, when in season, guava. I should go back there to try that when guava season comes around. I have always associated chiffon cake as airy, fluffy but dry cake. But when I tried the strawberry choco chiffon, I immediately notice that Leona’s chiffon is moist and full of flavor, and with every bite, the cake bounces back to its original form!
When I saw it, I thought, its banana cake with rich chocolate frosting. So maybe it explains the name Chocolate Surprise. When I took a bite, however, there is no banana taste I could trace. True enough, there is no banana in the ingredients. The “banana fiber” effect on the cake is the chocolate shavings added to the batter. This combination gives enough fill for a chocoholic like me but it does not overpower the senses.
There is durian fruit, durian candy, durian ice cream and at Leona’s, there is Durian Pie. “This is our latest product,” Jane told me. “We just started offering this last November.” I am not a great fan of durian unlike my sister-in-law who fights with her sisters to get to the durian fruit first that falls in their backyard in Bukidnon. I have eaten a lot of durian candy as pasalubong from relatives from Davao. I have also tasted the durian ice cream from Selecta that I don’t really like because it’s too creamy and sweet for my taste. My first thought is that the durian pie would be like the ice cream. But to my delight, it is not. It is creamy in the sense that the fruit is naturally creamy but not the usual pie filling creaminess that comes from milk and eggs. With my first bite, my first impression it, it is like I am eating the fruit that is sweetened a little bit and placed in a pie crust.
For a filling snack or a light meal or for those who are not into sweets that much, Leona’s also offer meat roll, chicken empanada, chicken turnovers and the likes. Different types of fresh breads and loaves are constantly refilled in their rack baskets.
Tiramisu should not be missed. Deviating from the usual broas base, they use sponge cake, with the strong aroma of coffee filling and creamy cheese frosting. The sailboat design of the frosting makes this one a great gift idea to those close to your heart.
Truly, Leona’s offers something for everyone. In the meantime, I have to hit the treadmill for all those calories I consumed but I will surely go back for more soon.
Text and Photos by Iris Sasing
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