I first heard about the Bibingka Cheesecake from Chef Day Salonga during my visit to Ted’s Kitchen last May (click here to read about my trip).
A few months later, my friend Cris told me that she was able to buy a slice from Commissary Kitchen, she gave it a thumbs up. I made a mental note to try it too but forgot about it until some weeks ago when Chef Dino Datu started promoting his turkey feast on social media and in the photo, I spotted something interesting. What is that? Oh, it’s the Santa Cruz Bibingka Cheesecake by Gel Salonga!
Days after, I bought a copy of the November issue of Cook Magazine and guess what’s on the cover – the same cake! Ack! It was stalking me!
Last Sunday, I finally came face to face with the cheesecake in bibingka flavor. You know what they say, “the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”.
“It represents my hometown, Santa Cruz, Laguna,” Gel Salonga explained when I asked her about the idea behind the hybrid creation which she started selling about a year ago.
The Bibingka Cheesecake is made with Santa Cruz Kesong Puti. It is coconut milk -based so that’s where the bibingka flavor comes from. And it is topped with salted egg and latik.
It earned the People’s Choice Award at Our Awesome Planet’s Ultimate Taste Test Pro Edition held last September.
Gel is the chef behind one of my favorite desserts, the Brazo de Fernando (also mentioned in my blog entry about Ted’s Kitchen). She only started baking five years ago but has already gained a following and been part of several prestigious ‘best’ lists. She quit her corporate job in Singapore and came home to start a new career. “Baking is like my finance background, it deals with exact measurements,” she rationalized. She credits her mom, Angie for the baking fundamentals which she supplemented by enrolling in short courses. But prior to this, she had no experience nor interest. It was her brother, Chef Day who has always been into food preparation. “I just washed the dishes,” she laughed, adding that she enjoyed eating, sweets in particular.
Her other popular cakes are the Mango Sansrival (layers of cashew meringue filled with buttercream and slices of fresh mangoes, topped with mango chunks and roasted cashews), Tsokolate Eh (moist chocolate cake made with tablea from Magdalena, Laguna) and my Brazo de Fernando (chocolate infused soft meringue with custard filling). She does wedding cakes too, using buttercream with customized sugar flowers.
“I like it when I see people enjoying the cakes and pastries that I make. And now that I use ingredients like itlog na pula, kesong puti, and tablea, I am able to support our local artisans and farmers in Laguna,” she said of her craft. Help her help more Laguna artisans and farmers by ordering her cakes!
An 8-inch Santa Cruz Bibingka Cheesecake is priced at Php1,300. A solo/mini size is available for P200. For inquiries and orders, call or text (0905) 2274045. You may pick up from Salcedo Village or they can deliver via Transportify.
Follow Chef Gel on Instagram @baker_gel_salonga.