Coming home to Mom and Tina’s

An evening visit to Mom and Tina’s bakery cafe last week left me wondering why I haven’t heard of and visited them sooner. It took me almost six months and their nearest outlet is a short tricycle ride away.
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What is endearing about the cafe is how they put a premium on detail. The interiors from the plump sofas to the wooden accents remind you of home, or a little cottage in the middle of the woods sans the cannibal witch…take your pick. The ambiance, now that Christmas is just around the corner, is incredibly festive and comforting. I feel that it’s part of the attraction and it works spendidly.
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You go there to soak up as much positive juju there is, and of course, to taste the food which is actually really good. It’s the blissful marriage of form and food that makes Mom and Tina’s a winner.
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The rolls that went with my delicious pasta all’Amatriciana (homemade fettucine with bacon and black olive sauce) were crusty on the outside and light and airy on the inside…in other words, it was the perfect foil.
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Their selections are diverse, which compels you to come back and eat with gusto once again.
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Never leave the place with trying the mini sans rival. Their pint-sized version of the real thing doesn’t scrimp on flavor with its luscious butter cream and nut filling between layers of chewy meringue. It could be a meal in itself given its calorie count, but if you’re like me…I ain’t countin.
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It has only been a week and my recent visit just last Sunday where I ordered their filling bacon and spinach quiche really affirmed that this is a place I’ll frequent. The beauty of it is that sometimes time stands still. It has the kind of laid-back, “I could read a book here all day” vibe you look for when you want to feel like you’re home because the semblance is there.

In a way, when you’re at Mom and Tina’s, you’re essentially coming home.

Mom and Tina’s Bakery Cafe

FRDC Building
106 E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave.
(C-5), Pasig City
Tel: 914-0833 or 571-1541
 
G/F Unit 14
Tropical Palms Condominum
Dela Rosa St. cor. Perea St.,
Legaspi Village, Makati City
Tel: 840-4299 or 894-3598
 
2nd floor,
Regis Center,
Katipunan Ave.,
Quezon City
Tel: 990-2875 or 990-2815
 
58 Sgt. Esguerra Ave.,
South Triangle,
Quezon City
Tel: 332-3080 or 332-3589
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Sticky Toffee Pudding

I first heard of Sticky Toffee Pudding from Nigel Thornberry, you know, that guy from The Wild Thornberrys, one of the best Nickelodeon cartoons all time? I’m not sure who he was talking to, but I do remember a phrase from his dialogue, in his thick British accent, he said, “…faster than you can say sticky toffee pudding”. So I presume it sticky toffee pudding is an English dessert.
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Then I learned more about it when the Lifestyle Network aired a short reality show which pitted everyday American homemakers against each other to create “the new Häagen-Dazs ice cream flavor”, and by luck and taste would have it, the honor went to the genius who thought of “Sticky Toffee Pudding”.
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A dessert from across the pond – it’s a moist cake studded with prunes or dates, then topped off with a toffee sauce like molten gold. I actually made my first batch of pudding (the British sometimes call a sweet dessert ‘pudding’, without specific references to a custard) more than a year ago, and I baked it in muffin tins. This time I used a 9 x 3 inch cake pan because it was my grandma’s birthday and I also baked her something sweet, since she doesn’t get a lot of it on a regular day.
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But to be completely honest I did have a few moments where I did give myself a facepalm. The last time I baked a cake, I did have an issue removing the wax paper – and the cake from the pan. In my defense flipping it over a plate was not a great idea since it was baked with a topping. This time however, I did have to make heads or tails on how to properly remove the cake, sans topping, from the pan. Because I was banking on my novice skills, I had a few moments of hesitation. I didn’t know handling a cake involved rocket science.

But I did get it out of the pan by first lifting it using the wax paper, then flipping it over so the flat, even bottom layer was on top. Youtube helped the poor fella out. Note to self: go to battle sufficiently prepared.
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The pudding is everything good in a dessert – moist and packed with flavor but not too sweet. The fact that you can drench it in a heavy toffee-like syrup is an incredible thing to see and taste. It really reminds me of  Food For The Gods, except that this is more dense like a cake. But either way, I don’t have to wait for the holidays to get my fix.  So far, this recipe has never failed me. And I believe this’ll be a nice addition to your range of recipes as well. Scratch that, not ‘nice’. Not even ‘good’. This is GREAT.
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Sticky Toffee Pudding (makes one round 9×3 inch cake; adapted from yummy.ph)

  • 1 1/4 cups dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (In a pinch, I used fresh milk + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to make 1 cup buttermilk)

For the pudding sauce

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Using a pastry brush (or a brush that you exclusively use for cooking/basting), brush the inside of a round 9 x 3 inch baking pan with shortening/oil. Do not use butter. Line it with wax paper all the way up to and beyond the sides, so there is an “overhang”. A different method can be seen here and here. I might try it next time. Photobucket
  2. In a bowl, steep dates in 1 cup boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the water. Pulse dates in a food processor until roughly chopped.Photobucket
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt together butter and sugar on medium heat.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes. Mix in eggs one at a time. Stir immediately to incorporate the eggs. Transfer to a large bowl.Photobucket
  5. Mix in vanilla extract and dates.Photobucket
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add in to the egg and date mixture. Add the buttermilk, mixing until combined.Photobucket
  7. Transfer batter to cake pan and bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.Photobucket
  8. Make the pudding sauce: In a saucepan over low heat, combine butter, brown sugar, and heavy cream, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened. Spoon over pudding. Serve individually on dessert plates with more sauce. Enjoy!

Apple Cake with Apple and Streusel Topping

Last night I was busy perusing through recipes I might try for today. Because I knew we had a few apples stored in the crisper since Christmas 2011, there was the frantic need to get rid of most of it, or else the lot might just go rotten. I thought about perfecting my apple pie, since my first attempt at pie didn’t turn out so well. Then I thought about cupcakes, but since we didn’t have any cupcake liners left, I scratched that out as well. Then I thought about poaching the apples in liquor, and I was dead-set on doing it. But the nagging feeling that today would be the day I would bake my first cake kept bothering me until I caved in and well….made. my. first. cake. And yeah, this far from a chocolate cake.
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The original recipe didn’t call for shredded apples in the batter. I looked at the recipe and I was afraid that the cake would turn out plain without anything to up the batter’s ante. Well, that’s just my excuse so I could use up all the Granny Smiths we had. But I thought adding shredded apples was genius.

This is a really dense cake. Probably because the recipe didn’t call for baking soda and vinegar. But it was still really good. This has essentially three layers: the cake, the apple topping and the streusel.
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The recipe had me at streusel. Because I haven’t perfected frosting a cupcake, let alone a cake, a streusel is a good, probably even better alternative. Instead of buttercream or cream cheese frosting, I like topping cupcakes with streusel, which is a mixture of flour, butter, sugar and sometimes nuts. It forms a light, sweet, crusty topping that complements the flavors of the apples. Sure I might pounce on frosting in the future, but right now it’s streusel, baby.
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Although I’m a butcher that lacks the finesse of peeling and removing the apple cores, I think I did a pretty good job at the apple topping. But the funny thing is, the streusel covered all of it up. I made a mental note of drizzling, not dumping, it with streusel next time.
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I did run into a hitch though: because the cake is dense, the wax paper along the sides couldn’t support the whole thing while I was trying to lift it up. Now I was stuck with the problem of removing the cake from the pan without ruining it. I did eventually coax it out by slicing the cake then individually removing the slices with a spatula.
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But I have to admit, that for my first attempt, the end product does look pretty darn good. Really good. (Are you out there? Do you agree?)
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What really gets me fascinated about the process of cake-making is how different proportions and techniques yield different results. Because this is a dense cake with a tight crumb, I’d like to explore the possibilities with different recipes. Yes Virginia, I’m a nerd, really.

I had more apples than I can use, so I thought about caramelizing the remaining slices with pineapple juice. It was a great accompaniment to the cake. Take that, whipped cream.
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One final important note:today I doubled the streusel recipe and I got more than enough crumbs to top the cake with. Hence, a thick streusel layer. I suggest you start with the recipe given below, then double the ingredient proportions for the streusel if you think it’s not enough.
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“Let them eat cake!”

Apple Cake with Apple and Streusel Topping + Caramelized Apple Slices (adapted from Joy of Baking; serves 8 – 10)

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup (70 grams) brown sugar

Cake Batter:

  • 2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt
  • 1/2 cup (112 grams) (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) milk
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, coarsely shredded using a cheese grater
  • 2 large Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin (1/8 inch) slices for topping, submerged in a bowl with pineapple juice (240ml/1 can) Slice an apple in half lengthwise, then cut each in piece in half. Continue the process until you arrive at 1/8th inch slices. 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).  Grease (with butter or shortening) a 9 inch pan and line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the lined bottom and sides as well.
  2. Streusel Topping:
      1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and ground cinnamon.
      2. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the brown sugar. Set aside while you make the cake batter.
  3. Cake Batter:
      1.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
      2. In the bowl of your electric mixer (I used a hand mixer), with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy and smooth.
      3.  Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
      4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Add the allspice and ginger.
      5. Add the flour mixture, alternately with the milk, and beat only until combined.
      6. Spread the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
  4. Evenly arrange the apple slices on top of the cake batter and then sprinkle with the streusel topping.
  5. Bake for about 45 -50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream.