Hiraya Bakery’s Lemon Uraro Shortbread and Rosemary Caramel Shortbread.
Behind Hiraya Bakery is a pair of passionate, relentlessly hardworking pastry chefs: Colette dela Cruz and Likha Babay are on a mission to promote Philippine pastries. Their dessert and flavor combos might seem unusual but they surprisingly work! Delicious examples: kamias jam-topped fudge brownies, cakes brushed with lambanog, and a chocolate-pepper-bay leaf loaf (an ode to our dear adobo). We chatted with the brains and bakers of Hiraya Bakery about their unique flavor combos, creating Pinoy pastries, and creating memorable bites:
Hiraya Bakery’s Kamias Brownies.
Yummy.ph: How did Hiraya Bakery come about?
Colette: I used to work as a pastry cook in the United States, where having a seasonal menu was commonplace. On my days off, I’d work on personal kitchen projects by experimenting with the Filipino ingredients I had in my pantry. Coming back here, it just felt natural to use what was already available in the market. We got the name Hiraya because it is a beautiful old Tagalog word that means “imagination,” and in creating pastries, we love to imagine combinations of flavors that we can find from our local landscape. We look at ingredients from a Philippine perspective because we’ve been looking at desserts from a Western point-of-view for far too long.
Likha: Both of us worked in professional kitchens with all the staple Western (imported) ingredients like fresh berries and nuts. But, baking in our own kitchen in the Philippines is a different story—we felt we didn’t have much choice but to look inward and turn to harvest available in the surrounding towns. We didn’t have a concept. We just wanted to bake something and sell what we made. So. we baked using ingredients from nearby towns like lipote from Liliw, bignay from Majayjay , sampinit from Mount Cristobal in San Pablo, tablea from Nagcarlan, honey from Sariaya and coconut milk from San Pablo. It’s amazing how all these endemic and often over-looked ingredients come from the towns surrounding Mount Banahaw and the Calabarzon area. We want to be able to work with the farmers and local artisans here in Laguna by promoting their products as we use them in our pastries and hopefully, to be able to help improve their lives as we grow.
Hiraya Bakery’s Honey Pili Spice Cake, Dalandan Cardamom Lambanog Cake, Banana-Bignay Streusel Cake, and Chocolate Black pepper Cake with Bay Leaf Ganache.
Yummy.ph: What is the most interesting ingredient you’ve worked with?
Colette: I’d have to say that it would have to be yuro (arrowroot flour) because of the way it behaves. I remember making uraro pinaltok (ginataang bilo-bilo) one time, and had difficulty forming it into uraro balls simply because I wasn’t familiar with how it behaved with liquid.
Likha: Lipote. Here in the Philippines, especially in Liliw (Laguna) which is just next to my hometown of Magdalena, lipote is used in making juice and wines but never for pastries. It is endemic to the Philippines and is rich in antioxidants. We eat it here the way we do duhat. It has a texture similar to macopa but it tastes like duhat. We make it into jam and we’ve used it to make cheesecake and our banana cake.
Hiraya Bakery’s Tablea Alfajores and Salted Dulce de Leche Alfajores.
Yummy.ph: Where do you get inspiration for all your uniquely-flavored pastries?
Colette: The farmers and food producers who work hard to put food on our table—people like Mang Fred, a cacao farmer and tablea maker from Nagcarlan, Mang Noemi of Laguna who makes arrowroot flour from their farmers’ harvests, Mr. Goyena, an agriculturist who makes fruit wines from fruits he grows his backyard, and Sariaya honey gatherers (“magbubuwag”) who brave the forests of Mount Banahaw to get wild honey from pulot-pukyutan (wild bees). These people who devote their time and energy to grow, harvest and make good ingredients from our landscape for us to use inspire me. Listening to their stories, their victories and challenges inspire me.
Likha: As someone who’s left the kitchen for another field and return to the baking, it inspires me when I see people enjoy the pastries that I make because it means I can still handle the job, but more than that, seeing how passionate these farmers are with what they do. It inspires me to create something that can justify all the hard work they put in to produce food and not fail them.
Hiraya Bakery is based in San Pablo, Laguna. Find them at the Katipunan Weekend Market at Estancia, Captitol Commons, and like them on Facebook for more updates. For orders and deliveries to Metro Manila, contact 0917 522 2840 or e-mail [email protected].