ONCE upon a time, there was a town called Sulipan in Pampanga which was quite famous for being the favorite place for foreigners to dock, go down their ship and trade with the locals. It was actually during the turn of the century, when sugar trade was at its height. And there, in Sulipan, was born the elite cuisine of Pampanga, which included Pato al Caparas (duck with capers), Menudo Sulipeña (oxtail stew), and Adobo del Diablo (also known as Capampangan Adobo, cooked without soy sauce but is a deep bronze in shade).
Its cuisine also included desserts that were painstakingly made and given curious names—Pasta Juan (actually not pasta but chewy butter bars) and Princess Cake (a delightful torte with French overtones that can only be made with butter and not margarine).
Speaking of Princess Cake, no other cake could be more decadent and richly sensual than it, says celebrity chef Gene Gonzalez, whose family hails from Pampanga. Including this cake in a recent cooking class, Culinary Gems from Pampanga, which he handled at The Maya Kitchen, Chef Gene noted that the Princess Cake was one of the highlights of the Sulipan banquet. It’s actually layers of freshly baked butter cake iced with buttercream and made more luscious with peach and strawberry puree and a secret dose of Cointreau and coffee.
And, oh, Sulipan is still there in Pampanga, but you’ll find more engine parts there than the elite cuisine that it used to be famous for.
For the cake:
1-1/2 cups butter
2-1/2 cups sugar
9 egg yolks
3-1/2 cups Maya Cake Flour
1/2 cup cold milk
4 tsps. baking powder
2 egg whites
fresh strawberries and peach slices
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Cream butter with 1 cup sugar.
3. Beat egg yolks and 1 cup sugar until mixture turns lemon color. Add this to the butter mixture. Then add cake flour alternately with the cold milk. Add baking powder.
4. Beat egg whites. Gradually beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar.
5. Fold the creamed mixture to the egg whites.
6. Pour batter into a greased 10×14-inch cake pan.
7. Bake in oven until toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
8. When cool, remove from pan and slice cake in the middle to make two layers.
For the fruit buttercream icing:
2-1/2 cups butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
2 cups frozen or fresh strawberries
2 cups sliced peach halves
2 Tbsps. dark rum
3 Tbsps. Cointreau, Triple Sec or any orange liqueur
1. With a mixer, cream butter and sugar.
2. Gradually add milk and coffee.
3. Fold in strawberries and peaches.
4. Add rum and orange liqueur. Mix well.
5. To assemble cake, place one layer of cake on tray. Frost top with fruit buttercream icing and cover evenly with the other layer of cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries and sliced peaches.