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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Pastry Perfect!

by Yumi Castrillo

photo by Camille Bautista

With much anticipation (and relief) the day finally arrived, the first pastry exchange actually happened!

I must admit, I was prepared for failure.

I had bouts of paranoia running through my head, from fear of no-shows from the bakers to what if my brownie would be the most awful tasting baked good offered on the table! Oh it was a difficult night-before. Thankfully, there were too many things to do for such thoughts to fester.

The exchange was set on a humid Saturday afternoon, perhaps not the best setting for desserts with steaming hot coffee and tea. But as I bring out my brownie from the oven, the air is completely filled with a wonderful aroma of gooey fudge and fresh-from-the-oven sweetness. I am immediately comforted. The excitement in the air begins to build up as bakers started trickling in through the front door with their goodies in tow. It was a good start for an exciting afternoon with lots of ooohs and ahhhs thrown around the room as each baker sets up their treat on the table.

Smores Bars, photo by Camille Bautista

The much tested theory of throwing strangers together with a common interest worked. The bakers comfortably introduced themselves to each other and started chattering away as if friends for life. “Ooh that looks good!”, “For how long do you bake it?” and other baker musings. It was fantastic!

Once all goodies were laid out, we began the short program. Each baker talked about her kitchen background, and shared the story behind her baked creation for the afternoon. To some, the bar or brownie they brought was an old favorite or a family recipe. For others, the delicacy was a newly concocted discovery. My own Dark Chocolate Brownie with Grand Marnier was an internet find and the recipe just tweaked to add orange essence. It was fascinating to hear the oh-so-familiar story of looking for the best recipe, adjusting it to perfection and finally hitting eureka! All the talk made us all the more excited to sample the goods.

We piled around the table and started taking small portions of the bars. We felt like kids let loose inside a candy store! It was so much fun tasting everyone’s heavenly bar or brownie and we enjoyed the variety that the pastry exchange yielded. The bakers flitted in and out of small groups sharing techniques, asking for tips, exchanging contact info and generally basking in the company of fellow food enthusiasts.

Bakers doing the exchange, photo by Louie Lim

After all the sampling, it was time to do the actual ‘exchange’. With a box in hand, we started going around the table and began stacking bars of each kind. It was a dream buffet line.

The Loot Box, photo by Kit Langit

Towards the end, most of us were pretty giddy from the sugar rush. The high however wasn’t entirely induced by sweets. We were all genuinely happy to have met each other and encountered all those pastries in one afternoon.

All gone! photo by Camille Bautista

* * * *

As we look forward to the next Pasty Exchange, we’ll be updating our blog with weekly articles on the homebakers who joined the first one.

Check-out Baked In The City’s features on the different bars and brownies that took center stage last Saturday. Kudos to the bakers who generously shared them with all of us:

MAYLA DOMINGO - Mango Cashew Nut Bars
LILET LIM - Cappuccino Bars
MIRIELLE GAZA - Carrot Walnut Bars
EMILY MANUEL - Peanut Butter Blondies
RIA SALABIT - Revel Bars
YUMI CASTRILLO - Dark Chocolate Brownies w/ Grand Marnier
MICHELLE YULO - Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bars
JEN RAMIREZ - Marble Fudge Brownies

photo by Kit Langit

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Pastry Exchange

A major activity for Baked In The City is our quarterly Pastry Exchange. At these gatherings, members each bring a specific home-baked creation in accordance with the chosen theme for that exchange (e.g. bars and brownies). We ask fellow bakers to avoid bringing duplicates of another member’s chosen treat, as a way of featuring the widest selection of recipes possible. Enough goodies are brought for everyone at the exchange, both to try during the gathering and then to take home later on. All in all, Baked in the City’s Pastry Exchange promises to be a socially fulfilling and gastronomically satisfying affair, each and every time!

The invite to the first Pastry Exchange

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Who's In The Kitchen?

by Jen Ramirez

Our blog chronicles the experiences of homebakers within and around the Metro. While it starts with the three of us for now, we look forward to hearing from other city bakers out there.


YUMI Castrillo is the ingenious creator of Piece of Cake, a home-based cupcake venture that’s taken the city by sweet surprise. Yumi is a master behind the mixing bowl. Taking what she’s learned from the experts, she stirs in her own innovations for that personalized touch. To Yumi, baking is half-science, half-art, and all fun! It was from this spirit that Baked In The City was born.For the produce of her kitchen, Yumi has found a very willing taste-tester in her husband, along with some fortunate urbanite friends (us!). As Mommy to a toddling princess, she’ll find kitchen-duty even more enjoyable when her daughter’s tiny but eager hands are ready to help-out. When she’s not wearing oven mitts, Yumi is a corporate lawyer. You can guess which one the sideline is.


MICHELLE Yulo comes from a family of food enthusiasts, hailing from the Inasal Capital of Bacolod. Her kitchen skills were honed in the family kitchen while her appreciative taste buds were trained on the dinner table. Michelle’s always in search of the best food finds here in Manila and elsewhere. Her quest for great eats takes her to both the trendiest gourmet places and those secret holes-in-the-wall that locals swear by. Naturally, Michelle’s pursuit of good food extends to her kitchen. Her culinary preference leans more towards the savory kind, and she makes a mean Osso Buco! Recently however, she’s been experimenting on baked goods too, brought about by a much awaited Kitchen Aide gift. Baked in The City’s resident banking lawyer also loves to tinker around with her other toy, a digital camera. Michelle enjoys snapping away at her favorite subject -- FOOD!


JEN Ramirez -- that would be me! I’m the neophyte referred to earlier; the tenderfoot who’d be lost without a recipe. I’m obsessed with exact measurements, don’t know how to ‘eyeball’ and own only the most basic of kitchen tools. I occasionally succumb to a box of ready-made cake mix too. =) Despite the failure to inherit my late mother’s majored-in-food-and-nutrition-and-went-to-finishing-school genes, I persist to find my way around an oven. Why? Because, I’m a work-at-home Mom with two adorable girls, and I want to share with them the pure bliss in whipping something up ourselves, then gobbling it all down after. My husband joins us in the eating part of course, plus I proudly share with the rest of the household (like with our real cook). So, who cares if I wasn’t born with a spatula in my hand! I thoroughly enjoy my novice attempts at the kitchen. It’s how I feed my family from the heart.