I hoard tips given to me from the readers of this blog. It’s because of those people who email me that I’m able to find places like Ingrid’s Sweet Haven, which opened just last March. Sniffing out a lead from one of those readers (thank you to you ”“ you know who you are!), I find myself one Saturday morning in an area off my beaten path.
A baking supply store, Ingrid’s Sweet Haven is owned by baking enthusiast Ingrid Mediarito. Only 25, this woman’s entrepreneurial streak runs white hot. “This is a really big investment for me,” she muses. “But I love to bake and my parents are very supportive of me.”
The store stands on what used to be the family house; it’s a cozy space with stocked shelves and an area tucked in the back where baking demos are held. “We hold free baking demos by my suppliers’ baking specialists,” Ingrid says proudly. “Our last demo had more than 50 attendees.”
Green and orange are the dominant themes in this store, evoking the energy of its young owner, and her three assistants: Fae, Edgar, and Bak-Bak. From the entrance, the shelves display chocolate in bars and powder form, cake mixes, packs of yeast, cake boxes in cheerful themes, flavoring agents, and other ingredients. I’m particularly enthralled with the native kakanin premixes: puto pao, maja mais, kuchinta, and the original puto (puti). A dump and mix affair, the idea of having ready-to-steam rice cakes without the hassle of grinding raw rice appeals to me.
As we move into the next section of the store, my gaze rests on a colorful corkboard with some basic facts about ingredients. Ingrid is serious about demystifying the baking world for those who are hesitant about it. “There’d be people who walk in here and think that the colored chocolates were soap!” She giggles. “Then there are those who come here to buy marshmallows and chocolates not for baking, but for eating.” Nothing wrong with that of course. “Lalaki pa yung market,” (The market will grow), she says confidently.
A charming conversationalist, Ingrid relates that everything in the store is what she herself uses in baking. “My store is targeted at the home baker who uses local ingredients. I also do my best to source what my customers are looking for.” She relates how she scours the yellow pages and local magazines for suppliers, even making an effort to attend food and equipment expos.
I squeal in excitement when I spy a wooden bench scraper (see photo below). Upstaged by its stainless steel counterpart, this baking tool is difficult to find. It’s invaluable for achieving well-formed pandesal that rises to fluffy heights.
silicone bakeware and of course, my new wooden bench scraper
The back of the store holds more equipment for the baker’s arsenal, and even more ingredients: acetate wrappers for cakes (if you’ve seen Bread Talk’s cakes, you’ll know what I mean), cocoa butter substitutes, blocks of shortening for frying donuts, and cellophane for wrapping doughy treats like ensaymada. Ingrid also carries a wide line of silicone bakeware, which I’m not a fan of, but she swears she’s had good results with. They come in quirky shapes like pyramids and triangles. Of course there’s a whole range of baking pans and finally ”“ various colored muffin liners instead of the oft-seen white. I grab a can of dulce de leche, caramelized condensed milk. It’s much easier to buy it here than have to risk blowing up my kitchen whenever I make it myself. Pressure cookers are nasty, scary things.
spending more money at Ingrid’s than I expected to
There are plans to open a café within the store and of course, to hold more baking demos. As I leave, I see a freezer of processed meats made by Ingrid’s cousin. While I don’t eat processed food all that often, I’m tickled by the foot-long hotdogs and a pack of Hungarian sausages. It’s what I serve for lunch that day along with some hard rolls that will soon be replaced with homemade pandesal made with my new wooden bench scraper. Yahoo!
Ingrid’s Sweet Haven
363 Dr. Sixto Avenue cor Liwayway St.,
Caniogan, Pasig City
open Mon-Sat 10 am ”“ 7pm