Admittedly, baking your own bread has gotten a bad rep. It’s supposed to be difficult, and besides, why would anyone in his right mind bake something that you could easily go out and buy at any grocery or sari-sari store? Also, it takes so damn long waiting for the dough to rise.
But then again, I regard every step of baking my own bread as a rewarding process ”“ from the minute the yeast dissolves in the liquid to the proofing of the dough, and finally, the baking of the loaf in the oven. I also derive immense joy from shaping the breads I make into loaves, braids, and rolls.
I spent most of the long weekend in my kitchen up to my elbows in flour. I tried my hand at baking four different kinds of bread. From my “experiments,” I seem to have more luck baking egg-enriched breads, rather than ordinary yeast loaves. My brioches and challahs came out with a delicate, tender crumb, while my Hungarian potato bread and my Finnish rye loaf came out hard with a gummy interior. I’m still checking out what went wrong, but for now, I’m happy with the results. I even made a chocolate bread pudding using the challah I had made.
In any case, if you’re a fellow bread lover (like me), but don’t have the time nor the inclination to bake your own bread (unlike me), here are a few of the shops I go to. For me, bread has to be doughy and soft, none of those light, fly-away rolls, and these bakeries fit the bill with their products.
Fortune Bakeshop at Landmark
I know there are other Fortune Bakeshops in the city, but I only go to the one at the Landmark, even if it’s an inconvenience for me. I like their putok pan de sals, which bake up so big and soft that you could just sink your nose into one of them. They also have good Spanish bread.
Kamuning St. corner Judge Jimenez St., Quezon City
I have it on good authority that this is still where former President Cory also buys her bread. This is one of those old-style bakeries where you can sit on a monobloc chair and eat your bread while quaffing down a bottle of Coke, and watch the jeeps roar by. They have pan de sal here that is as big as my hand, as well as some old-fashioned ensaymadas, the ultra yellow ones smeared with butter and sugar. While you’re here, buy a package of the paciencias, these crunchy, flat, meringue cookies that are just delicious for nibbling.
The signature bread of this Japanese bakery is called the Monroe bread. The many curves on this loaf is evidently named after the equally curvaceous Marilyn Monroe. This bread tastes almost like a brioche, or the inside of a croissant. It’s fabulous for sopping up the juices of meats or eating with chunky soups like the Spanish fabada.
I also like their English loaf and the House loaf. The difference between the two is that one is enriched with eggs while the other is not, although I can’t remember which one right now. In addition, it’s also a treat when I get my hands on their whole wheat bread, and their thick slice loaves, cut about two inches thick. Now that’s what I call substantial.