A wheatberry is a whole, unprocessed wheat kernel. It’s the wheat that you see in high fiber cereals, (in its cracked form) and the name of a new bakeshop in Quezon City. Young baker Sonia Inducil conceptualizes it as a “natural bakery,” where only natural ingredients are used and preservatives are shunned.
Open since October 2005, Wheatberry is a showcase of breads and pastries very unlike the usual desserts found in Manila. Begin with the breads, of which focaccia (P65) is one of the stars. This Italian bread is a dimpled disk, heavy in weight and depth. It has a very olive-oily bottom that makes it the perfect partner for dipping into a saucer of balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. Cut it neatly into wedges but I prefer to just rip into it and eat with pasta.
Get your day’s supply of grains in the oatmeal buns that are scattered with oats, raisins, honey and wheat flour. Sonia says it’s like an oatmeal cookie in bread form. Other notables are the wheat pandesal, pimiento rolls, fruit and nut bread — think fruitcake in bread form; and the herb and cheese rolls.
Sonia is very particular about how Wheatberry’s breads should be served: there is a short notice on the sides of the paper bags with instructions for storing and reheating. “I find that refrigerating breads dries them out, so I recommend freezing. Thaw it overnight and then toast it,” she tells me.
It was Kelloggs who came out with the Rice Krispies treats, those square hunks of marshmallow crÃ¨me, Rice Krispies cereal, and butter that have made many a childhood. While they’re a cinch to make at home, Wheatberry offers their caramel rice krispies (P35) for those who’d rather buy them or for those who don’t know what they are. Similar to the Chinese ampao, Wheatberry’s krispies have marshmallows and caramel. They’re supposed to be chewy, but the crunch level will depend on how long the batch has been sitting in the display. The first krispies I bought at Wheatberry were too chewy (makunat) to the point of being stale, but the second batch I had had more of a crunch which made me change my mind about disliking these sweets.
These two-faced treats are called Florentines (P38), a combination of dried fruits and nuts and chocolate on the other. Originally Austrian in invention, its name implies an Italian heritage. These chewy, candy-like confections are a mixture of butter, sugar, cream, and honey cooked over heat before being dropped on a sheet and baked. I like how there is a strong sesame seed taste in these Florentines, and plenty of chew.
A popular refrigerator cake in the Philippines is crema de fruta, a creamy concoction of cream and fruit cocktail interspersed with layers of vanilla chiffon cake. Frankly, I’ve never seen it presented in anything other than a white plastic tub. Wheatberry has glamorized this somewhat humble cake by prettying it up plenty and calling it Tutti frutti (P75 ”“slice / P500 ”“ cake).
Emphasizing flavors are important to Sonia. “I like it when customers tell me that my desserts aren’t too sweet. I have a diabetic father so I was trained that desserts shouldn’t be too sugary. Like when you taste the Tutti Frutti, you should be able to taste the fruits, not only the sweetness of the cakes.”
Hiding behind the Tutti Frutti cake is the dulce de leche cheesecake (P90 ”“ slice/ P800 ”“ cake). I’m impressed with this luscious baked beauty sitting on a graham cracker crust and topped with caramel. It succeeds in achieving denseness and whisper-softness at the same time. Now, this is something I wouldn’t mind being given for Valentine’s Day instead of chocolates.
I’ve always insisted that cupcakes should be more available here in Manila. Who wouldn’t want a miniature little cake slathered in frosting. Part of the appeal of a cupcake for me, is how it’s meant for me and me alone ”“ no sharing.
At Wheatberry, the cupcakes change according to seasons. As you can see, this picture has a happy new year theme since it was shot in early January. Wheatberry’s cupcakes aren’t too consistent ”“ at times moist and at other times dry ”“ but what I can always count on is plenty of frosting to lick.
There are other things at Wheatberry that Sonia recommends. There’s a tantalizing cake called a strawberry maria, their version of a strawberry shortcake. The first time I went to Wheatberry, I was in dire desire of carrot cake, which they didn’t have. The servers offered me their pumpkin walnut cake. Tall and majestic, it had a delightful orange color and crumb. Strangely enough, I didn’t see this cake on my second visit there.
Wheatberry has a full-service menu offering everything from rice to salad. I recommend sticking with the bakery items and their beverages line which also includes coffee, tea, and milkshakes.
Wheatberry Bakery & Café
84 Scout Castor corner Scout Tuazon,
Bgy. Laging Handa, Q.C.
374-8470 to 72