Food · NewsWorthy

The Maya Kitchen’s New Gen Baker: Jennifer Villanueva

A copy paste from newgenbaker.com
Please see link for full feature story: newgenbaker.com/blogs/jennifer-villanueva
jennifer villanueva
Meet our New Gen Baker, Jennifer Villanueva, 37, a proprietor and the owner of Big Ben Concepts Marketing Services, a duly recognized marketing and PR firm that specializes in events organization and public relations services. She is also an artist, a baking hobbyist, a blogger, a foodie and a mom.

Jennifer’s blog Vyjaera: Chronicles of a Traveling Momma is all about her adventures and misadventures as a first time mom and more. This is where she shares her thoughts and views, and gives reviews and recommendations to anything that has to do with raising a baby.

‘VYJAEra’ is coined from the spanish word ‘viajera,’ which, in english, translates to ‘traveler.’ Figuratively, her slogan, ‘Chronicles of a Traveling Momma’ tells about her passion about traveling, and appreciating the beauty of life. The blog is Mommy Jennie’s attempt to reach out to as many people as she can, by sharing what she knows, what she likes, what she sees, and what she believes in.

Jennifer started baking a few months after giving birth to her first born child, Cassey Hunter in 2013. She personally feels it is a milestone for her and her baby to celebrate her monthly birthdate, after being themselves subjected to a very difficult nine-months of pregnancy. Each time they do celebrate, she would cook one main course, and buy commercially available cakes. As it turns out, the cakes they would buy were either too sweet, too plain, and quite pricey. It frustrated Cassey at times, because even she could not finish eating a slice. After Cassey Hunter’s Christening, Mommy Jennie thought it would be nice and more practical to learn to bake.

In short, motherhood inspired Jennifer to try to become the best in every way for her baby. From handpicking fresh fruits and vegetables in the groceries and organic markets, to preparing baby foods, and making nutritious snacks for her baby.

“I had pregnancy-induced diabetes when i was conceiving Cassey, and that may be the reason why she did not seem to have a sweet tooth. She wouldn’t eat chocolate, icing, or anything sweet. I didn’t want her to miss out on one of the best things about childhood, so I took it as a challenge, and tried to come up with recipes that my baby’s taste buds would approve of,” Mommy Jennie says.

Years ago, Mommy Jennie used to work under Parents (the family magazine) a publication with one of its columnist – renowned Culinary Chef, Food Journalist and Critic, Nancy Reyes-Lumen, whom she said is one of her inspirations. When it comes to cakes and pastries, she is a fan of Pastry Chef, Heny Sison’s creations, and has attended a few cake workshops, both as a registered participant, and as an invited media person to cover the event.

Her sister, Vanessa Jopillo, a former Hotelier turned Entrepreneur, whom she considers a Culinary expert, has also inspired her to learn to bake. While Mommy Jennie was pregnant, her sister would give her a demonstration on the basics of baking and cake decorating.

Since then, baking has become part of her ‘must accomplish’ list. She began browsing recipe books, and watching cooking and baking shows on the television, and surfing the internet for some interesting bread pastries and cake recipes. “I bake at least twice a week, for personal consumption, and almost everyday when there are orders from customers. I also see to it that when I bake something new, I let a couple of friends and family try it first, to get first hand feedback from them,” she says.

“Since I started a Facebook page called, Handcrafted Confections: Your Cake, My Canvas, as an outlet to my baking hobby, I’ve received orders from people outside my circle. I am currently promoting a specialty cake, which I personally handpaint using edible paints and gels. I see this as a collaboration of my two skills and passion… painting and baking. The time and effort that you put in painting the cake is what makes it extra special. My Fondant Cupcakes are also famous, among my customers, who find it not only delicious, but affordable as well,” she adds.

Among her favorites are the Brazo de Mercedes Cake and Cupcakes, Carrot and Banana Cakes, and lately, her Chocolate Moist Cake. Mommy Jennie also loves baking Homemade Pandesal.

“Since I learned how to bake pandesal, you would seldom see me buy bread from groceries or bakeshops. I love how the aroma of freshly baked pandesal gives a very welcoming feeling in our home. That’s why i would rather bake it myself,” she adds.

When asked about her signature recipe she says: “I make the best Brazo de Mercedes, at least that’s what my Mom says (laughs).”

She also takes pride at watching her daughter grow to love eating different breads and her very own Vegetarian Cookie Recipe, which is made out of fresh bananas, some raisins and oats (with a dash of salt and baking soda, of course)

“I consider my being a full-time mom, with no yaya and helper, as my biggest baking challenge. I literally have to wait for my daughter to go to sleep, or take a nap first before I can start baking. It is extra challenging with a one year old running around the house, pulling every plug she sees, and sometimes, literally smacking into my almost finished product. However, in all the things that I try to accomplish, my baby always comes first, so I’d rather not compromise,” Mommy Jennie says.

Her baby also loves fruits so much, Mommy Jennie always tries to incorporate it in her baking. She finds Blueberry Bagels a little complicated to bake.

“There was this one time that I tried baking a Blueberry Bagel, while my baby was up playing and running around our small kitchen. I could not focus, so it didn’t turn out well. I ended up wasting more than a cup of fresh blueberries… and you know how expensive they are, right?”

When the right time comes, meaning when her daughter goes to school, Jennifer hopes to get formal training on baking and cake decorating, since she believes she still has so much to learn.

Tip(s) for other New Gen Bakers: “When you put passion in the things that you do, you can turn anything raw into a beautiful, and delicious work of art! My other tip: Never ever run out of (Maya) All-Purpose-Flour in your kitchen pantry, and you’ll never grow hungry.”

Mommy Jennie is collaborating with Pastry Chef Jojo Javier to hold a Basic Fondant Cake Baking and Decorating class on November 15, 2014 at Lancaster Hotel in Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City. For inquiries, you may call her at (0915) 1435691 or visit her blog, Viajera: Chronicles of a Traveling Momma and Handcrafted Confections on Facebook.

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