[Clockwise, from topmost right: kinihad, bañadas, barquillos, galletas, kinamonsil, biscocho prinsipe]
This is part of a series, "Tinapay," on local breads from street corner bakeries across the Philippines.
When an office colleague went home to Bacolod City for the Holy Week I asked her to bring me the representative local bread/s in the region. I expected Wewyn's sweet biscocho, which I was able to buy and enjoy for myself more than ten years ago, or the famous flat (as opposed to the bulging) piayas, and maybe some butterscotch bars.
I was surprised, though, to receive a box of assorted goodies, from the Panaderia de Molo in Iloilo City. But then after some pondering I thought it wasn't really such a surprising idea, since Iloilo and Bacolod both share the same Hiligaynon language and food culture.
The surprise is in the fact that Panaderia de Molo should be considered the prime makers of Ilonggo treats, both in the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod. Not that I have a problem with the quality of the products - no, I think they're unsurpassed, although of course I'm not a real authority on Ilonggo food.
Probably because Panaderia de Molo was the pioneering institution in making the now famous and distinctively Ilonggo bakery goodies. It traces its roots to the Spanish colonial times, when there was a boom in church-building activities.
Historical data reveal that construction of churches used crates and crates of eggs as binder for the limestone blocks, but utilising only the whites. It is stated in Panaderia de Molo's wrapping paper that the bakery traces its roots to an order of nuns in the district of Molo in Iloilo City who thought of a way to make use of the surplus yolks from the construction of the Molo cathedral.
It is even claimed that the nuns' recipes, perfected and closely guarded by the family who eventually set up Panaderia de Molo in the second decade of the 20th century, and even the wood-fire baking and manual packing methods are still used today.
Panaderia de Molo's assorted biscuits are packaged in either the tin round cans or in small boxes, with the various biscuits packed in individual plastic packs.
Kinihad are thin slices of toasted bread, great for dipping into coffee or hot chocolate, and would benefit greatly from a spread of sweet jam and butter. They are like biscochos without the baked in butter and sugar on top.
Bañadas are soft round cookies glazed with sugar icing, which reminds me of something similar in Pangasinan, and which made the late food doyen Doreen Fernandez wax sentimental over the local bakery treats in her hometown of Silay City.
Of course who doesn't know barquillos, called apas elsewhere (but is different from the thin apas of the Tagalog region), the long tubes of rolled wafer-thin biscuits of our childhood that have evolved into the present chocolate-marbled and -filled Stikkos? This barquillo was coconut-flavored, and it was delicious without cloyingly sweet. It ranks among my other barquillo favorites - the ube and pandan flavored ones from Biscocho Hauz, also in Iloilo City.
Panaderia de Molo's galletas are one of a kind - not like the dry, chalky Luzon galletas that are choking hazards - they are crispy, thin as an unrolled barquillo, and more like a crunchy communion host. Very close to the apas of the Southern Tagalog region, but with the characteristic chalky taste.
Kinamonsil ape the shape of a kamonsil or camachile (Pithecellobium dulce, known among international tropical plant enthusiasts as Manila Tamarind) with its decorative form. I rather like my province's own camachile biscuit, though, as it is not as hard and sweeter.
The one I like best among the lot, besides the hojaldres which are not in the photo and are akin to otap but are not as flaky and softer, are easily the biscocho prinsipe. I like Ilonggo biscocho (and not the Ilocano biscocho), but I love biscocho prinsipe. The qualification prinsipe (prince) is a deserving adjective - it is indeed a royal biscuit. It isn't even a biscocho, it is more like a slice of dried butter pound cake - crumbly, buttery sweet, finger-licking good. It needs nothing else.
Panaderia de Molo
San Jose Street, Molo, Iloilo City
Rizal Street, Iloilo City
The Tinapay Series
- Dealo Apas, Broas and Other Southern Tagalog Biscuits
- Charito's Delights (Catbalogan, Samar)
- Half-Moon Cookie (Puerto Princesa, Palawan)
- Baker's Hill (Puerto Princesa, Palawan)
- Crema de Fruta
- Pedrito's/Jech (Dagupan City, Pangasinan)
- Napoleones (Bacolod City, Negros Occidental)
- Pastel (Camiguin)
- Inipit (Bulacan)
- Cinnamon Swirl Loaf (Baguio City)
Experiencing Iloilo in 24 Hours
Casa Carmela Piaya/Quan Pandelitos/El Ideal Guapple Pie