For many, these golden-brown pastries are enjoyed for
The chicken empanadas were once sold at a famous chain of bakeshops found all over the Philippines. This local bakeshop is also famous for their birthday cakes and their
Fortunately for loyal empanada fans, it didn't take long until the original empanada recipe eventually found its way back to Trina. She quietly started to make empanadas for her family and friends. Seeing how positive the feedback was, Trina put up Mama Empanada.
Mama Empanada is Trina's tribute to her grandmother and mother who both played huge roles in forming her passion for baking. Around the time Trina's grandmother had a home-based food business, the grandmother would share her kitchen with Trina's mom who also produced her own baked goods. Trina shares, "I've been around the kitchen ever since I can remember. When my mom was happily pregnant with me, she left her job at the bank and started her bakery business."
To Trina, the kitchen wasn't just a place for baking. The kitchen was also where she discovered her interests and learned countless lessons while bonding with her grandmother and baking cookies with her mom. She would listen to her grandma and mom converse in Kapampangan until she learned enough to understand the dialect. She also learned the technical side of baking, which included the importance of the manufacturing process. When Trina was 12 years old, she started to form an interest in baking and spent countless summers helping out the food business. She recalls, "I remember always wanting to go to her kitchen and watch all the delicious pastries being made."
Fueled with passion and being surrounded by successful women in the kitchen, Trina dreamed of having her own food business someday. She shares, "After completing my Bachelor's degree in Management, I moved to San Francisco and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu 16-month Culinary Arts in California Culinary Academy where I obtained my certification in Associate of Occupational Studies and Culinary."
Fast forward to the success of Mama Empanada's classic empanadas today, they widened their selection with new flavors like the Sirloin Beef Taco empanada, Italian Sausage empanada, Herbed Tuna empanada, and the Sriracha Chicken
Aside from empanadas, one of the many pastries Trina had a soft spot for was her mother's
Trina's memories of the Banana Crunch are just as sweet and warm as the pastry. She shares, "When I was in kindergarten, I would wait for my mom in the bakeshop after school. She was always busy running the counter and making sure the banana crunch orders were being prepared correctly in the back kitchen. Every time my Lola would visit the store, she would help my Mom in the kitchen."
During these after school-sessions, Trina particularly enjoyed sitting beside her grandfather while she was eating
When her mom finally introduced the Banana Crunch to the bakeshop, it became an instant hit! It easily became one of the bakeshop's cult favorites. Unfortunately, during the expansion of the bakeshop and the mass production of this pastry, the recipe notebook that held all of her mother's original recipes was mishandled. "[The Banana Crunch from the bakeshop] eventually changed its quality. It was no longer the home-baked banana bread that I first tasted during my childhood."
Since computers weren't as common back then, it seemed hopeless to retrieve these heirloom recipes. Somehow the stars aligned when several years ago, Trina's mom decided to get her recipes from the office. This mother-and-daughter tandem experimented perfecting the Banana Crunch over and over again until they figured out the original recipe. During those times, Trina's mom even shared her baking tips and secrets on how to make it, "Like using fresh bananas instead of purees!"
Admittedly, not a lot of people can say that they enjoy spending time cooking or baking with their parents. But for Trina, no one can put a price tag on all the time that she spent with her mom trying to replicate the original Banana Crunch recipe. Trina adds, "And to be able to taste it just how I remember it when I was a kid, makes my Banana Crunch that much more special to me."
It comes as no surprise that Trina is now a mom who also bakes a lot with her three kids. Inside Trina's kitchen, a beautiful space that looks like a page-ripped-out-from-a-lifestyle-magazine, she indulged us by making the Banana Crunch, all the ingredients laid out on the kitchen counter. Her younger sister, Trixie, who is also a passionate baker, would often chime in to playfully tease Trina. It was apparent that Trina and Trixie have a fun sister dynamic. They poked fun at each other, but when it comes to baking, they knew their stuff and they help each other out when needed. After all, these are exactly the traits you can expect from Kapampangan sisters who take their food to heart.
Trina's three little kids popped in and out of the kitchen, sometimes glancing at what the sisters were doing. They can tell you exactly what Trina was doing and they knew what their aunt's next step should be. Trina shares, "They've helped me many times with the empanadas before, and now the Banana Crunch. I love seeing how excited they get every time they share [these] goodies that they love and help make to [give] to other people."
It was only late last year that Trina and Trixie decided to sell the Banana Crunch through Mama Empanada-perfect, as it was just in time for the holidays. The moist banana bread topped with bits of sweet banana crunch was well-received, just like the nostalgic chicken empanadas. Since the comeback of Banana Crunch is still relatively new, they have yet to put it permanently on their menu. Trina describes it as, "still going through birthing pains."
If anything, this family's effort of reviving their homemade recipe of banana bread that was passed down to three generations of moms is well worth the wait. You know each loaf is handmade, filled with love, and was baked with care, that you can almost taste it.
You can find Mama Empanada at Rockwell's Baker's Fair, SM Aura, Uptown Mall, Glorietta 1, Century Mall, Eastwood Mall, Vertis, Southmall, and other curated food bazaars around Metro Manila.
For more information, follow Mama Empanada on Instagram.