The palate remembers and it asks for more when it stores savory memories of something. That’s when favorites come into play and become indelible. Old timers remember how egg pie tasted good at City Bakery and cinnamon was delicious at Star Café, not to forget the streamline cake at Dainty Restaurant.
All these former Baguio City landmarks have disappeared, but those favorite goodies are still around, thanks to someone who influences it.
Arturo Chiu prides himself as the third generation of a baker from Canton, China who continues the tradition of bringing the quality breads to the table. Like many stories in Baguio, the inter-marriage with women from Kapangan, Benguet have created generations of Chinese descendants who specialize in the trade.
In the family of 10, Arturo says five siblings have taken up baking as their occupation, even his next generation of three children are involved in the Bakers Bliss Cake Shop at San Vicente, Baguio City. The surprise is that he is related on the Leung side, or the mother’s side to the del Rosario’s of Sunshine Bakery.
Amidst the struggles in the prices of the ingredients for making the egg pie that has been supplied to popular restaurants like Good Taste and Hotel Supreme, he says that the same milk and quantity of eggs remain the same. The profits may have been reduced but the taste and quality has survived the decades.
He says that there should be no compromises in the ingredients to maintain the taste. He laments the shrinking market because the outlets have since included the bakery to their operations. However, the buyers who have become addicted have created a demand for it in some outlets, including the bakery.
The cinnamon rolls of the former Star Café were a regular household item. Arturo was in the staff during the earlier years to maintain the product. The moist and chewy texture of the rolls with the melted caramel topping are similar to the rolls of Tesoro’s. Like the sweet rolls found in commercial shops, this edition of the cinnamon rolls is still different and consistent.
The simplicity of the streamline cake of Dainty Restaurant cannot be compared. The rippled plain sugar icing and the sweet corn starch regular lineson plain vanilla chiffon cake were simple versions of fancy ones in most bakeshops. This streamline cake describes the simple icing that made the cake simply delicious. The cake was not found anywhere else in the country but at Dainty Restaurant. Today it remains as a cake made in the bakery of Arturo. This was a middle-class cake used by regular families for household celebrations without the fancy letterings but with candles no less.
Arturo says the wood fired ovens have become gas fueled and the mixing of ingredients are now done by machines. Except for the pie crust for the egg pie that is better kneaded, everything that comes out of the bakery is made consistent through the ingredients that remain the same. There are no cheap alternatives used in the changing costs for flour, sugar, and butter. There are no changes in the time-tested recipes.
For now, the next generation of bakers in the families have inherited the business sense. There are homemade products that are brought to the shop like the egg pie. The other nieces and nephews are known for their customized cakes for special occasions.
The legacy continues. The Ibaloy Cantonese generations continue the favorites in the American and post-American eras of Baguio City.
The recipes have endured and survived the time because the taste for these items has not waned.