Baked in the City

Baked in the City is a happy network of homebakers like us, out to embrace more of our own. Our group is about celebrating home-baked treats and the absolute joy that goes into making them! Members look forward to sampling each other’s baked goods, learning new baking techniques together, sharing information on ingredients, trading sources or suppliers and even trying out new recipes from those who are willing to share.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MIRIELLE'S Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

by Jen Ramirez

photo by Kit Langit

There were SEVEN pies on the table, and the first one I reached for was Mirielle’s Blueberry Cheesecake. I’m an absolute cheesecake fan and was happy to learn that because Mirielle uses eggs in her recipe and actually bakes the cheesecake, this was technically a pie!

The pie’s cheesecake filling had that perfect argument between cheesy and tangy going on. The blueberry topping provided just the right tartness to balance the creamy layer underneath.

photo by Kit Langit

Cradling Mirielle’s creation was a very thin, neutral crust. I heard the other homebakers complement Mirielle on this, because apparently such a thin and very even (profile-worthy) crust is one hallmark of a truly skilled baker.

I thought that size-wise, the pie was just the right thickness because one fork-full gave me a good proportion of everything without any one element lording it over. That’s probably why I ended up finishing the entire half-slice before going for a taste of the others.

photo by Kit Langit

Mirielle says this cheesecake isn’t on the product list of her home-baked offerings. After the rave reviews from last Saturday though, she might want to change her mind. Be it bars or pies, apparently, baker Mirielle can do no wrong!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Go ahead, make PIE day!

By Jen Ramirez

Invite to the 2nd Pastry Exchange

I had butterflies in my tummy on the way to our second Pastry Exchange. Our theme was “Scrumptious Pies & Tarts”, and I couldn’t help but think that I’d gotten in over my head this time. I barely survived 'bars and brownies' last month, to think they were actually mix-dump-bake affairs. A pie however is a more delicate creature. There’s a science to the crust, a harmony in the right filling, and a ‘daintiness’ to the over-all look of the pastry. I wasn’t sure my novice baking skills had what it took to bake pies. I’d never really tried to make one before, and here I was, bringing my first ‘experiments’ to the pastry exchange!

photo by Kit Langit

My Buttermilk Pies were definitely not what one would call dainty, but they were my ticket in to what would surely by a delicious afternoon (filled with other peoples’ pies -- haha!). Mine were securely covered by foil in their pans, and I was anxious about unveiling them for the world to see beside everyone else’s beautiful creations. I tried my best (twice in fact), but they didn’t come out as pretty as the pie pictured on the recipe. The least I was hoping for was that they’d taste like they’re supposed to, so I could at least say they were legitimately Baked In The City quality!

At exactly 2pm I entered Casa Castrillo. I saw the cake stands laid out on the table and three really pretty pies already on display. I learned from Yumi that three more were on the way. We had great variety that afternoon. There was sweet, cheesy, chocolatey, fruity, nutty, rich and creamy. Yum! We hadn’t even started yet and my senses were already in the sampling stage.

Ros putting on the last touches on her Sweet Potato Pie, photo by Kit Langit

It was great to see the old friendly faces from last months’ pastry exchange. I was also happy to meet Ros and Addie who were joining us for the first time. Ros went straight from the front door into the kitchen, to whip up some creme chantilly as the crowning glory of her sweet-potato pie. We all fell easily into the happy banter that comes with proudly talking about our ‘babies’ (which for that day, meant our pies).

photo by Kit Langit

Tasting time was heavenly. Since everyone was seated comfortably around the table, with the pies just laid out there before us, no one was in a hurry to get up. Our sampling size was quite big too, half a slice of pie per variety. With seven half-slices to taste (not counting seconds!) per baker, we easily ate about half a pie each!

photo by Yumi Castrillo

Now, packing our loot boxes was a belated challenge we may not have anticipated. It was hard to get neat slices of pie from the pan to the box, then to have each slice behave well with the other slices in there. One pie needed a serving spoon and take-out ramekins for the job, just to emphasize even more how gooey-delicious it was. You’ll have to wait for the individual features to find out which pie I'm talking about.

photo by Yumi Castrillo

Well, challenging or not, you can bet all of us were diligently filling the boxes with our share of the loot. Those pies were just too good to pass up for a second round at home. Somehow a pastry exchange isn’t really complete until you get back home, to the delight of eager loved ones waiting for you. In fact one of the best parts of every exchange is opening that lootbox on your dinner table, this time with family and friends to share in the bliss.

LOOTBOX! photo by Yumi Castrillo

Monday, October 1, 2007

Marga's Smores Bars

by Yumi Castrillo

photo by Michelle yulo

I am big on comfort food. Steaming arroz caldo on a rainy day, large, thin slices of cheese pizza while watching Sex and the City, extra buttered popcorn at the movies, and a sweet thick brownie with my café latte. Marga Marquez’ smores bars hit the spot on my coffee break.

The bars leave the taste of caramel and toffee rolling in your tongue. Its not quite chocolate, but I can taste the dark brown sugar, like it was cooked perfectly, just before burn-point. I can just see it, dark and amber colored. It’s very soft and moist, with large chunks of graham scattered on top. Reminiscent camping days and childhood; backyard picnics and slumber parties. Oh, the memories it brings!

photo by Kit Langit

What I love about it: It’s a homey dessert, with uncomplicated flavors that is downright good. Its not pretentious, doesn’t boast of imported or special ingredients –which I personally tend to be with in MY own creations (!). But Marga’s bars are simple and perfect at every level.

And it is precisely Marga’s quest for perfection that brought her to create this delightful concoction. After trying dozens of recipes, she finally found the best brownie. It was then that she decided to jazz it up a bit and began playing around and creating variations. A true artist indeed! Aside from her brownie variations, she also makes all kinds of Cheesecakes (Oreo, New York, etc), Triple Chocolate Mousse, Velvet Chocolate Cake, Mocha Magic, Mango Shortbread Tart, Strawberry Tart, French Apple Pie, Chocolate Pie, and beautiful colorful party cupcakes.

Email Marga and get the low-down on her goods!

photo by Camille Bautista

Monday, September 24, 2007

MICHELLE’S Peanut Butter & Chocolate Layer Bars

by Michelle Yulo

Photo by Kit Langit

This is only the second time I baked this goodie and I’m willing to bet it will be an instant hit to peanut butter fanatics.

To tell you the truth, I am not much of a peanut butter fan. I thought of baking this for the pastry exchange since at that time, the list did not include a peanut butter bar. I tried out two recipes from the food tv network, the first is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Brownie and the other one is Peanut Butter Hazelnut Brownie. A survey from my officemates and friends resulted to Peanut Butter Layer Brownie winning by a slim margin.

The Peanut Butter and Chocolate Layer Bars as its name suggests is made up of a chocolate layer and a peanut butter layer. What I love about this bar is that the chocolate layer has melted chocolate and chocolate chips! This creates a chewy and moist chocolate layer with a touch of melted chocolate with each bite. The saltiness in the peanut butter layer is a perfect foil for the sweetness in the chocolate layer.

I have made a few adjustments in the recipe. I discovered that he batter was not too much and it would be better to make two recipes which should result to generous servings as well.

photo by Michelle Yulo


Chocolate Peanut-Butter Layer Brownies
(recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine)

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped – 4 ounces
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
7 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla – 2 tsp
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour –
1 teaspoon baking powder – 1 tsp
1 teaspoon salt – 1 tsp
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan, knocking out excess flour. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate, stirring, until smooth and remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat. Cool chocolate to room temperature.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy and beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and vanilla. Into a small bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and beat into butter mixture just until blended well. Divide batter between 2 bowls. Whisk peanut butter into batter in 1 bowl. Whisk melted chocolate into batter in other bowl and stir in chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.

photo by Kit Langit

Spread peanut-butter batter evenly in pan. Drop chocolate batter by large spoonfuls onto peanut-butter batter and spread carefully to form an even layer. Bake brownies in middle of oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it. Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack before cutting into 16 squares. Brownies keep, layered between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at cool room temperature, 5 days.


Friday, September 21, 2007

RIA's Revel Bars

By Michelle Yulo

photo by Camille Bautista

Heaven - is the first word that came to mind as soon as I had a bite of Ria Salabits’s revel bars. Now, before you accuse me of being partial, allow me to defend myself.

I had my first taste of the revel bar (although at that time I did not know what it was called) when I was in college. It was a small piece in a box of assorted bars and brownies purchased from the mall. Right there and then, I fell in love with that distinct texture and taste I mistakenly thought of as coconut. Imagine my thrill when tried it again at the Pastry Exchange. It was like unearthing a favorite toy from your childhood.

Ria’s Revel Bars, just like its name, is a pleasure. I love that it is not intensely sweet considering that it is packed with condensed milk and chocolate. Its distinct texture and chewy-ness comes from the oats which I mistakenly thought of as coconut in the past. I can’t seem to explain it, but it is almost like a crunch but not quite. Never fails to elicit that “ooh-la-la” feeling, if you know what I mean. Most of all, the chocolate layer is the perfect compliment, not too sweet and not too gooey either.

photo by Michelle Yulo


The Revel Bar recipe came from Better Homes and Gardens All Time Favorite Cake and Cookies recipe book (1982) owned by Ria’s mom. Recipe follows:

Chocolate Revel Bars

1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi sweet chocolate peices
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, baking soda and oats. Meanwhile, beat the butter and the sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until incorporated. Press 2/3 of the mixture evenly on an 11 x 15 pan and reserve the 1/3.

Place the condensed milk and the chocolate in a saucepan and stir over low heat until smooth and the chocolate has melted. Turn off the stove and add 2 tablespoons butter, the vanilla, ¼ teaspoon salt and walnuts. Mix until smooth. Pour evenly onto the flour mixture. Dot the remaining 1/3 flour mixture on top of the chocolate mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned at the edges and is set.

photo by Kit Langit

Ria has made modifications over the years. She substitutes quick cooking oats and omits the walnuts. Sugar is decreased by ¼ cup since she too finds the recipe already sweet. That’s why the bars were not overpoweringly sweet. Her most helpful tip is lining the pan with parchment paper and leaving a ½ inch border since the chocolate will spread some more during baking. Another reason why the chocolate layer does not come out gooey.

Although Ria has been baking since high school, she still experiments and is not ashamed to admit having botch-ups. Her all time specialty is chocolate chip cookie that uses youghurt instead of eggs. Food blogs, new techniques and products inspire Ria to bake. Of course it helps to have a husband and a little girl who never fail to rave about her cooking – now that is inspiration on a daily basis.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

JEN’S Marble Fudge Brownies

by Jen Ramirez

photo by Kit Langit

When I found out that the theme for the first pastry exchange was heavenly bars and brownies, my priority was to find the easiest recipe I could. Then, seeing the other participants’ yummy sounding, multi-syllabic variants, I began to think a ‘basic-fudge-brownie’ might be anticlimactic (and cowardly). So, what’s the next easiest recipe to that? Marble-ize it!

As a fan of cheesecake myself, I was happy to learn that what gave a brownie its marble was a simple cream cheese mixture on top. The online recipe seemed easy enough, so I gave it a try. What came out looked surprisingly nice, and upon tasting, my family declared it as, “…YOU made this!?” - - which translates as “very good”!

photo by Michelle Yulo

Personally, I found the brownies quite sweet and too rich for my taste. For the kids though, this kind of almost-solid-fudge bar was a delicious treat! Thank goodness for the cream-cheese on top. It mingled (or should I say marbled) well and gave a mildly salty contrast to the brownie, preventing death by chocolate overload.

At the pastry exchange, I needed help to get my brownies out of the pan and to cut them neatly into bars. I guess that’s equivalent to having a big “Newbie!” sign stuck to my forehead. Yumi, Michelle and Emily were eager to help. Despite the shortening I used for greasing, my bars were just too moist to survive being inverted onto a chopping board (at home we sort of ate them from the pan…). Yumi was able to save them though, and she also taught me to use non-stick baking paper next time, as a liner for easy transfer.

Another thing I learned (this time from Michelle) was that the amount of eggs in a recipe affects how fudgy-moist vs. ‘cakey’ it will be. American recipes that call for two large eggs may require three of our local-sized eggs to generate the same consistency.

photo by Camille Bautista

As an epilogue of sorts, I want to share that I tried making the marble-fudge brownies with the adjustments I learned from the exchange. Actually, some friends invited us over for lunch and when I asked what we could bring, they requested for the brownies they'd read about on this blog. Haha, pressure! Fortunately, I'd learned a few things by then. I lined my pan with non-stick baking paper, but greased it first to prevent the liner from slipping. I also added one more egg to the recipe, to diffuse the fudge level slightly and give it more rise. Lastly, after it cooled down, I chilled the entire pan in the refrigerator overnight before cutting into neater bars the next morning. I found that with the liner and the firm chilled brownies, I had a much easier time. The kids still loved it, our friends took seconds and I thought they were really yummy too. It was a proud moment!

In case you’d like a copy of this recipe, please email:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mango Cashew Nut Bars

by Michelle Yulo

photo by Michelle Yulo

At the first taste of Mayla’s Mango Cashew Nut, one would be reminded of the Christmas fruitcake. This is exactly what Mayla’s creation hoped to achieve.

Mayla’s Mango Cashew Nut Bar is the product of her love for liquor-flavored cake and her dislike of glazed fruits and walnuts. To create the perfect cake, she gathered her choice of dried fruit (mango), nut (cashew) and liquor (cherry brandy, mind you) and came out with the Mango Cashew Nut bar. Surprisingly, many fellow foodies and bakers at the pastry exchange share the same sentiments over the fruitcake. In fact, we initially thought of naming Mayla’s creation as the “No-Fruit Fruitcake Bar” or the “All-Cake Fruitcake Bar.”

photo by Kit Langit

Many of you might think that baking the mango cashew nut bar or fruitcake may be too the elaborate or challenging especially for first time homemakers. Mayla couldn’t disagree more. She started experimenting with baking only sometime in October of last year. Having a mother who was an excellent cook inspired Mayla to her craft. In the past year, Mayla has baked chocolate cake, butterscotch, brownies, apple pie, sansrival, and chocolate chip cookies, plus of course, the Mango Cashew Nut bar, to the delight of her family and officemates.

Photo by Camille Bautista

I must say that, that Mayla’s Mango Cashew Nut is unbelievably moist, almost like the consistency of fudgy bars. Mayla shares her secret - she uses molasses as an alternative to sugar. This keeps her bars delectably chewy, moist and fudgy.

The cherry brandy was a perfect addition to the mango bits and cashew nuts. It adds just the right touch of sweetness and aroma without being overpowering. Most of all, not only is brandy a preservative, it also enhances the marriage of flavors in the bars. Mayla claims that her bars taste even better after a couple of days and I agree.

So, for those who are fond of the all-cake fruitcake or are simply foodies always on the lookout for sampling new delights, Mayla’s Mango Cashew Nut bar might just be a hit for you. For inquiries, text Mayla at 0922-8763634