PasteleriaManila.com is the latest iteration of
Ces Lopez’s beautiful baking venture that started in 2009.

In truth, Ms. Lopez is not a stranger to baking. In her childhood, she woke up to the fragrant smell of freshly-baked bread and the indelible sights and sounds of the family-owned bakery–clanging oven doors, sacks of flour, giant tubs of shortening, and the like. She also learned vicariously from Chef Paolo Lopez, a brother who was engaged in product development with several successful food chains like the French Baker and Starbucks.

As a licensed nurse and flight stewardess, Ms. Lopez is obviously a people-person whose talents and creativity eventually turned to baking. To arm herself with the appropriate skills and right credentials, she completed an intensive baking and pastry course.

Last February 2009, Ms. Lopez helped her son and his high school classmates raise money for charity through the sale of baked treats.

She thought: what could be irresistible as well as inexpensive and easy to eat?

For this first creative effort, Ces innovated on her favorite pastry–brazo de mercedes–a traditional Spanish-influenced dessert in the Philippines. Brazo de mercedes is light fluffy meringue wrapped around sweet eggy custard usually prepared as a foot-long pastry roll. She decided to render the dessert as brazo bars–individualized servings in wax-paper cups. The better way is to think of them as Brazo sandwiches with the meringue as the buns (shaped like rectangular bars) and the custard as filling or palaman.

What started as a fund-raising project for her son’s high school, Ms. Lopez’s brazo bars soon evolved as a modern baking concept and a viable business opportunity. Compared to the traditional brazo de mercedes, the custard in her brazo bars is creamier, lighter, and with very fine texture and consistency. Aside from the classic egg custard filling, she also offered other flavors and fillings such as mango, strawberry, walnut, and toasted coconut. These collective innovations were so successful that Ms. Lopez’s brazo bars won the top spot at Anton Diaz’ Ultimate Taste Test 2.0 in September 2009. The commendations did not stop there. After barely two months, Ces’ chocolate chip cookies similarly won the top award at the Ultimate Taste Test 3.0 in November 2009.

With the brazo bars as the flagship offering, Ms. Lopez opened a store cafe in Alabang Town Center in July 2009. Unfortunately, the store had to close by year’s end as it was crippled by the devastating typhoon Ondoy as well as personal family problems. After the store’s closure, Ces decided to continue as a home-based venture that sold her baked creations through week-end bazaars, night markets and social media outlets.

Through the years, Ms. Lopez continued to improve and broaden the range of her baked products to include strawberry short cakes, savory buns and quiches.

Early this year, she decided to innovate on broas, another traditional Filipino pastry. The traditional broas is the local version of ladyfingers–light, whitish-yellow, egg-based biscuits that looked like, you guessed it, a lady’s precious fingers. In her rendition, Ces decided to create another sandwich-like pastry similar to her earlier brazo bar concept. Two finger-wide broas sticks function as the opposing ‘buns’ enclosing a sweet, flavored filling. At present, Ms. Lopez’ broas sticks come in three flavors: red velvet (with cream cheese filling), ube (with filling made using the Good Sheperd Convent’s famous ube jam), and dulce de leche (with caramelized condensed milk filling).

As conceived, PasteleriaManila.com is an online store that seeks to raise awareness and broaden the market for Ms. Lopez’s baked creations. It offers a modern and direct means to purchase and enjoy baked products through varying means of payment and modes of delivery. Through PasteleriaManila.com, Ms. Lopez promises an enduring commitment to offer enjoyable, high-quality, and innovative baked products to as many discerning customers as possible.

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