MANILA, Philippines – It’s Christmas season, and you know what that means! Fruitcake. Lots of it.
The quintessential Titas of MNL potluck offering has been gracing holiday feasts since God knows when, and it continues to be a polarizing dessert for many; you either love it or hate it. As for me, I grew up apathetic towards the baked loaf – I saw it too many times at home as a kid, and never bothered discovering what lay underneath all those sickeningly colorful dried fruits and candies…until now.
I might chalk it up to age, but I recently tried out local bakery The Vegetarian Kitchen’s best-selling plant-based fruitcake, and enjoyed it very much! Amazingly enough, it took a vegan version of the Christmas staple to get me devouring a slice (or two) after all this time.
The Good Fruitcake is made sans any dairy or eggs – it’s got flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, all-spice, vanilla, brown sugar, applesauce, pineapple, orange, molasses, vegetable oil, brandy, cashew, walnuts, raisins, Medjool dates, fresh fruits, and candied cherries.
This vegan fruitcake was incredibly moist and soft, yet still dense and flavorful. According to The Vegetarian Kitchen founder Tita Soliongco, this was made possible using only high-quality ingredients, and instead of egg, she used different fruits “to bind and lock in the moisture during baking.”
The Good Fruitcake is also generously packed with fruits and nuts inside and on top to provide different textures and flavor profiles to keep things interesting. The loaf also has that “distinct fresh and fruity flavor that lingers in your mouth,” Tita told Rappler, which seamlessly blends with the oaky taste of the liquor.
Neither flavor is overpowering, and everything is cohesive. The fruitcake – which you won’t even realize is plant-based – is best enjoyed room temp with coffee or tea for merienda, or as a guilt-free dessert!
“I love making fruitcakes because it is not so complicated to bake, and the outcome is a Christmas-themed loaf that has a lot of personality and layers of flavors,” Tita added. What was merely a homemade gift to friends is now her seasonal sideline business, due to popular demand.
The Vegetarian Kitchen’s The Good Fruitcake is available in two sizes: 500 grams (P500) and 700 grams (P700).
The Vegetarian Kitchen began in the ’90s in a driveway with eight tiny tables, a couple of batibot chairs, and a small handmade signage posted on the gate of a young Tita’s family home. Tita said that her belief in Hare Krishna made her vegetarian.
“I experimented with my mother’s recipes to create dishes without using meat, fish, or eggs. My family and close friends who tried my cooking encouraged me to open shop since most vegetarian establishments then only served Indian or Chinese food. Since, The Vegetarian Kitchen has evolved into a restaurant, and now my children are the ones at the helm,” Tita said.
The Vegetarian Kitchen serves “plant-based comfort food” using locally grown produce that aims to bring back memories of home through healthy dishes and baked goods. The restaurant is located along Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City, available only for pick-up and delivery orders as of now.
To order, you can message The Vegetarian Kitchen on Facebook or via Viber at 09156434348. – Rappler.com