Dinti Guanio was the first to respond when I sounded the call for home bakers who wanted to be featured on this site. That call will always be an open invitation for those who want to get their name out in the home baking business.
Dinti fits the profile of the characteristic home baker: she’s been baking since she was young, fueled by watching her mom bake; she has an embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks; and one Christmas of selling her treats progressed into a full-fledged business. Two years later, she’s the proud owner of her own store at Tiendesitas, and laughingly describes her house as “a kitchen with a little room.”
‘Hearty’ best describes the goodies that Dinti makes. There’s nothing complicated about what she offers, just dead-on sweets to quell “gotta have it good and gotta have it now!” sugar cravings. She professes to a lack of a sweet tooth however, preferring potato chips to sweets. She’s not the first baker I’ve come across with this affliction. (What is it with this new breed??)
Along with her banana loaf, Dinti’s bestseller are her brownies (15 pcs ”“ P225 / 30 pcs ”“ P375), which she amusingly describes as “…like Mentos, crunchy on the top, soft inside.” Heavy in the hand, her brownies are cake-like, sporting a crackly top crust descending into a fudgy interior. Chocolate chips mixed in the batter give different taste sensations: straight from the fridge, the brownie is dense; microwaved just a bit, the chocolate chips ooze in the mouth. These brownies are so popular that they’re sold on consignment at Green Sparks Convenience Store in Greenhills.
“I often get asked what a chocolate chip cake is,” Dinti muses. “I reply that it’s a chocolate cake with chocolate chips in the batter and sprinkled on top.” She also mentioned that a few people have wrinkled their noses at the sight of the runny icing, which Dinti adores and worked hard to perfect. I agree that the icing dribbling down the sides only serves to highlight this smolderingly delicious cake (P375). A caveat: straight out of the fridge, the chocolate chips may prove too hard for those with more sensitive teeth.
Who would eat a slice so small?
There are some cakes that I feel are mere vehicles for the magnificent frosting that they are cloaked in. Carrot cake is one of them ”“ the more cream cheese frosting on the cake, the better it is. Dinti’s carrot cake (P435) scores on all counts. The cream cheese frosting is lathered on thick and mercilessly, plenty to lick off of fingers and eat with the cake, which is dark, spicy and moist.
Just like frosting, sometimes pie crust is the only reason why I’ll eat pie. Dinti’s pie crusts are very thick, more mealy (bready) than flaky. It’s showcased in her apple pie (P415 ”“ 8”), which is crammed so full of fruit that it actually has a domed top, and is somewhat watery in its consistency. The top crust is actually a streusel topping with a secret ingredient that gives it a beguilingly “what is that I taste?” flavor.
The rum walnut loaf (P315) that Dinti makes is eye-catching. The cracked top actually seems to be sprouting chopped walnuts. It makes for a compelling reason to try this cake. Not as strong on the rum as most other cakes of its kind, it’s fluffy and moist with a quick crunch from the nuts. I enjoyed eating this very much for breakfast or in the afternoon when I just “had to have dessert.”
Nut pies are my most favorite in all the world. There’s something about the lustful smooch of sugar and nuts that makes me giddy. Nut pies are perhaps the one reason why I run races every month. Dinti’s pecan pie (P550 ”“ 8”) has a soupy middle, all the better to hook me under its come-hither spell.
Dinti insists on using only the best ingredients for her cakes, thus her aversion to using anything but Philadelphia cream cheese for her cheesecakes (P650). A graham cracker crust with perfectly formed edges, it’s available with a strawberry or blueberry topping.