Panaderya Toyo has all the comforting charm of your friendly neighborhood panaderia, and then some. Within its doors, the very air is redolent with the aroma of fresh-baked breads. The warm wood paneling feels comforting, even homey. And if your timing is right, you might catch head baker Richie Manapat with his sleeves rolled up, busily working his dough on the oil-seasoned flour-roughened bread counter made of mango wood. The breads on display glisten golden brown in the soft sunshine, waiting to be warmed, torn into chunks and eaten.
A passion for baking fantastically good bread was and is the impetus behind this tiny bakery, already something of a phenomenon, albeit it’s only been on soft opening just over a month. The concept was taken from the traditional panaderia, a cultural icon with a central role for Filipino families and community life. “We wanted to tap into panaderia culture, but to make it newer, so people can to relate to it, specifically the younger generation,” says co-owner Jordy Navarro, the chef-owner behind its parent, Toyo Eatery, just a few doors down from the bread shop. In short, Panaderya Toyo is your childhood bakery as reimagined by partners Navarro and Manapat. It is a happy place with one focus: really good bread.
Good bread begins with the dough. Richie Manapat, a bread geek if ever there was one, is a true artisan who relies on technique to produce breads of the quality he wants. His process includes the use of natural leavening, long fermentation times, and baking at high temperatures, among others. “Where others would use preservatives, he relies on technique,” says Navarro
Their signature breads include the knotted pandesal, a sourdough bread made using dough at much higher hydration levels, which is difficult to manipulate. To hold its structure and not turn flat, it’s tied into a knot, thus creating this pretty signature look. Manapat says the wetter dough allows him to keep the pandesal moist inside without using commercial yeast—a great example of how he uses technique to make better breads. The end product has so much moisture that when you rip it, you’ll see steam coming out.
The Pan Mayaman is inspired by German or Scandinavian rye bread, but made with a blend of whole wheat flour and breadcrumbs. “It takes its cue from the panaderia tradition of using yesterday’s leftovers to make today’s breads,” says Navarro. “So at the end of the day, what doesn’t get sold is turned into breadcrumbs that end up on the pandesal and on the pan mayaman.” The Pan Casero is made with a percentage of local corn flour dusted with handmilled brown rice flour instead of semolina. And the Pan de Lata is baked in a tin, hence its name.
When you buy the breads to take home, you’ll be given reheating instructions to ensure that you can still enjoy them at peak conditions. But you might also want to stop by for a cup of coffee and merienda of tinapay and palaman.
The secret to well-made bread, says Manapat, is just flour, water, salt and time. Lots of time. All his breads are made using sourdough, and baked in a Zanolli modular oven designed to his specifications. The flour is imported, since the Philippines does not grow wheat, and always unbleached with no bromates. He is toying with the idea of importing heritage flour from Australia which he says is more similar in taste to what “they used back in the day.” He’s hoping to discover and incorporate locally-grown grains into his bread in order to make “culturally relevant” breads.
Manapat and Navarro say they just want to make really good bread every day. In doing so, they’re modernizing Filipino bread in unpredictable and exciting ways. “At the start, I said to Richie, just make bread the way you want to make it,” says Navarro. “We wanted to show that the panaderia can stand alongside French boulangeries or those Nordic bakeries. But now we see more possibilities. We’re actually asking the question, what breads can we Filipinos make? What can we grow to be?”
The Alley, Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, (0917) 720-8630
Open 10 am to 6 pm, closed Sundays