Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — When a couple of friends were kind enough to send me a few cakes on my birthday, I knew I couldn’t really fit more than one in my refrigerator. So, I divided the cakes and sent out cake samplers to friends who lived nearby. My friends, who weren’t expecting it, sent me crying and heart emojis and messages of gratitude in uppercase. Even though we weren’t together physically, sharing cake felt like a way for us to celebrate, a virtual way to have our cake and eat it too during a time where nothing has gone our way.
For all that has happened in 2020, this may be the year I consumed the most cakes and pastries. Aside from the joy of absentmindedly spooning leftover cake into your mouth, sending cake to someone else is just as satisfying. What was once something I’d order to prolong a meal or just to have with coffee — an afterthought — cake has now become a mainstay, a highlight. A whole meal at times. Cake is its own reward, a way to brighten a bad week, a reminder that you are loved, or a way to let someone know you love them.
This list is a mix of old and new favorites; some new discoveries alongside cakes that have brought me back to places I can only ever experience in memories. Here they are:
Decadent Chocolate Cake, Big Al’s
One particularly bad day in November, I typed “chocolate cake” in Grab Food and this was the first thing to come out. Big Al’s decadent chocolate cake is so overwhelmingly chocolate, both the icing and the sponge are practically BLACK. Pair it with their vanilla ice cream for an instant mood boost.
Where to get it: Order via Big Al’s Website pick up through own courier, Grab Food (selected areas). They also have stores in Antipolo, Quezon City, Makati, and Paranaque.
Strawberry Shortcake, Baby Yulo’s
This tall cake takes up my whole freezer, but I’d gladly trade all my frozen chicken breasts and bangus for this one. It’s tough to beat Baby Yulo’s strawberry shortcake, but I could also just be sentimental. This massive cake is actually very light, with icing that tastes almost like strawberry ice cream.
Where to get it: Call (02) 88108078 or visit 19 Kawayan St., North Forbes, Makati City
Caramel Cake, Estrel’s
I don’t know how else to explain the hold icing flowers have on me as a person. I guess because they’re both beautiful AND edible? Estrel’s has been a semi-permanent fixture in our household for birthday parties and more. Nothing quite like a caramel cake to remind you of the times we could celebrate getting a year older together.
Where to get it: 54 Scout Tobias corner Scout Limbaga, Quezon City. Call 8372-2965, 8371-7938 or 8376-7317 — though they are booked for the holidays.
Chocolate Truffle, Tilde Bakery & Kitchen
This was a tough one. I have yet to order something I didn’t like from Tilde, but their chocolate truffle cake has consistently delivered a good time to both my family and the family of friends. The truffle chocolate dust in tandem with the whipped chocolate truffle layers are great if you’re looking for that rich chocolate experience. By the way, did you know that the cool lady who owns Tilde is also the lady of Sugarhouse fame?
P.S. Their carrot cake cheesecake is just as great.
Where to get it: 5417 Matilde, Poblacion, Makati. Via DM on Instagram to order.
Carrot Cake, Homemade Carrot Cake
Nothing says carrot cake like that carrot signage or the little white chocolate carrot on top of a carrot cake of this QC cult classic. It’s moist and a little nutty, a cake for when you’re looking for something that isn’t too sweet. When a friend of mine ordered recently, he asked what their bestselling cake was. The reply he got: “Our cakes have been around for 21 years, hijo.”
Marshmallow Cake, Pasteleria Costa Brava
Writer-photographer Tammy David swears by Costa Brava’s marshmallow cake. It has served as a blank and sweet canvas for many, many, and I mean many important statements which you can find on her feed. It’s also very delicious, and she once told me she used to order Costa Brava cakes “like pizza.”
Where to get it: 12 Polaris, Makati, Metro Manila. Call (02) 8896 6872
Tres Leches with flowers and tea leaves, Po Bakery
Po Bakery is the foray into sweet desserts by the bun and noodle masters of Po Manila, and their tres leches is probably the best I’ve ever had. Soaked through with three kinds of milk, the tea leaves add a delicate balance to the decadent sponge. They have really great miso cookies too.
Where to get it: DM to order via Instagram
Buko Pie, The Husband’s Craving
Although technically not a cake, this buko pie is too good not to include. The slices of coconut meat are generous, layered with this not too sweet custard cream, topped with a crumble that resembles polvoron in texture and taste. All held together by a slightly salted crust. The whole thing is just phenomenal and it gets even better after a few hours in the fridge.
Where to get it: Via Google form on their Instagram (though December slots are fully reserved) or text 09637105150 (no calls please). Pick-ups are in New Manila, QC and Tarlac City, Tarlac.
Tosi, The Noodle Bakes
Back when The Noodle Bakes had a brick and mortar store in Katipunan Avenue, a slice of Tosi (her take on Momofuku Milk Bar’s crack pie) could turn a bad day around almost instantly. The buttery sponge, the butterscotch center, and the flawless layer of buttercream on top have saved my life many times.
Where to get it: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or check their Instagram.
Torta di Arancio, Bellini’s
This one takes me back, way back, back to John Lloyd in “One More Chance” back. Among the many things we’ve lost to this pandemic, it is amazing to see Bellini’s still operating from their spot in Cubao Expo. I was probably 16 when I first had this cake, served warm, with candied oranges on top. I shared it with my mom. That was when I realized there was more to cake than just icing and sponge.
Where to get it: Call (02) 913 2550 for orders via pick-up or delivery. DM their Instagram or Facebook. Cubao Expo, 3 General Romulo Ave, Cubao, Quezon City