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The spirits are with this home baker
One cake, myriad ways: The Drunk Baker’s Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Rum Cream Cheese frosting as a two-layer cake with strawberries on top or tray with mixed berries on top
STAR/ File

The spirits are with this home baker

CULTURE VULTURE - Therese Jamora-Garceau (The Philippine Star) - April 8, 2021 - 12:00am

We all remember how, when lockdown started last year, everyone started cooking and baking at home, with some talented enough to turn their newfound passions into viable businesses.

Others who were more alcoholically inclined tended bar in-house, quenching their thirst once the liquor ban was lifted (I’m partial to sunset cocktails myself, and have learned to mix my favorite tipples).

Josefina “Joey” Silvestre went one better and merged baking with alcohol in The Drunk Baker, the homegrown business she started last year.

While that catchy name might have you picturing someone reeling around the kitchen happily swigging from a bottle, rest assured that, while Joey may indeed be happy in the kitchen, all of the alcohol goes into The Drunk Baker’s moist, flavorful cakes and brownies.

Unique offering: The Drunk Baker’s Coffee Chia Olive Oil Cake with Sugar Glaze is infused with Kahlua

“The concept behind The Drunk Baker is the use of olive oil as fat in baking instead of butter,” Joey explains.  “I infused them with liquor to enhance flavor and make it more unique.”

Joey decided to focus on olive oil cakes because it was new to the local market, and a type of cake that was actually suitable for breakfast.  “Olive oil cakes are filling but not too heavy, with just the right amount of sweetness, and will complement your coffee or tea,” she notes.  “I got the idea of infusing them with liquor while I was drinking and remembered how liquors enhance food flavors.”

The Drunk Baker’s Joey Silvestre with one of her creations: “The concept behind The Drunk Baker is the use of olive oil as fat in baking instead of butter, and infusing them with liquor to enhance flavo

Like other home-based businesses, The Drunk Baker started as a form of therapy for Joey at the onset of the pandemic.  “It’s actually something that I, unfortunately, procrastinated on for years.  During the lockdown, I had the time to bake and pulled out my personal recipes from long ago and started making different cakes.  I sent them off to family and friends as a means of connecting with them during the lockdown.  Let’s just say I got ‘drunk’ on love and support from the people dear to me and decided to turn it into a business, since they’d been asking me to bake for them to send to their other loved ones.”

If you’re new to The Drunk Baker, one of the must-tries is the Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Rum Cream Cheese frosting, a bestseller that’s low on alcohol but high in addictive qualities, since it balances just the right amount of citrus with creamy sweetness. “There’s no liquor in the cake itself — only rum in the frosting — but I once had a customer who asked me to douse the cake with rum, which I did,” recalls Joey.  “She loved it and ordered the same cake several times.”

Another bestseller is her darkly decadent Whiskey Brownies, which she normally infuses with Jim Beam.  “On special occasions or for special orders, I use Copper Dog, as influenced by my friend.”  These spiked, large-size brownies go particularly well with coffee.

The newest item on The Drunk Baker menu and one I highly recommend is the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache, a Belgian chocolate confection infused with whisky that satisfies every bit of the dark chocoholic in me. The ganache is laid on generously (read: thickly) and keeps the cake moist and rich — so dense it’s like eating fudge but without the cloying sweetness.

Joey has other unique items on her menu like a Coffee Chia Olive Oil Cake with Walnut Streusel, and she can customize any of her signature cakes according to your specifications, like putting strawberries on top, soaking it with the liquor of your choice, or making it cupcake size for virtual get-togethers.

Consequently, like fine wines, The Drunk Baker’s cakes get even better with age once you store them in the fridge.  One of the advantages of baking with olive oil and alcohol is that it retains the cake’s density, moisture and flavor.

FROM BANKING TO BAKING

Before starting The Drunk Baker, Joey, who has a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) from the University of Santo Tomas, had a basic knowledge of baking and learned more about it from years of working in the hospitality industry, as well as practicing at home.

“I love Giada De Laurentiis and Nigella Lawson,” she says.  “Their simple yet flavorful dishes are not that complicated.  Being a chocoholic, I also like watching Jacques Torres, a renowned chocolatier.  Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss was also one who influenced me with cake baking.  His creations are actually works of art, and I honestly don’t think I could eat one cause I know how long and hard it took them to sculpt such cakes.”

She developed her own recipes through trial-and-error, ultimately relying on her own personal taste.  “You won’t know it’s good until you’ve really tried a good one,” she says.  “Bottom line is I want good food even if it sometimes costs a bit.  For me, food is part of an experience and that’s my guiding principle with my products — actually in life as well.  I will only serve food that I like, and this extends to service and how one should treat other people.”

She currently works in banking as a communications practitioner, and says the industry is lucky to have weathered the pandemic.  “We see more value to it as it enables the economy through financial aid and credit to keep businesses up to individual families stay afloat in this time of uncertainty.”

Personally she’s grateful to be surrounded by supportive friends and family who were her first paying customers, and helped spread the word about The Drunk Baker to extended family and friends.

“Since my products are infused with alcohol, the market I got were young professionals up to the senior ones,” she notes.  “Most of them would rely on my treats as a gift to their bosses, part of family lunches, and my most favorite is being a part of special occasions.  I even got to make a wedding cake for an intimate wedding! My clients would always tell me how my treats are moist and flavorful, and how the quality would be good even after a few days in the refrigerator.”

At present Joey is working on products that she intends to launch gradually, like the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache, which used to be available only upon request but will now be part of the regular menu.

As much as she loves The Drunk Baker, she doesn’t see herself leaving corporate life to pursue baking fulltime.  “Working in a corporate setup is actually where you learn a lot of lessons that you can apply to your personal life,” she says.  “If given the chance to expand this humble business and be an instrument to provide jobs for people, I do not want their knowledge and experience to be limited to what I only know.”

She says she has a deep respect for those who trained in culinary, traveled the world for food, and invented a recipe from scratch.  “I aim to do that someday.  But for now, I want to just connect with people through my passionately baked treats that I can really say is the extension of my home.  Something that bears the quality and taste that I am confident to share with everyone.”

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Order from The Drunk Baker through Facebook: Drunk Baker, Instagram @The.Drunk.Baker, or contact mobile 0917-843-8138.

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Follow the author on Instagram @theresejamoragarceau and Facebook (Therese Jamora-Garceau).

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