Have you tasted the most delicious bread from Culaba, Biliran?
Well. despite, the rise of many state of the art bakeries in the urban areas, a traditional bread remained sought after by residents in the town of Culaba, Biliran. The bread is produced by a family in the rural community of Brgy Bool East, Culaba, Biliran.
One could be challenged by the claims of many who tasted the bread as the "pinakamasarap na tinapay."
Responding to the request of Dr. Faustito Aure, of the Eastern Visayas State University in Tacloban City who happened to have a close encounter with the traditional bread maker, to assess the product for possible DOST assistance, the DOST Biliran PSTC staff in coordination with the Culaba Municipal Planning and Development Office through Engr. Albert Fiel its MPDO, went to where the bread is.
The DOST-Biliran team went there to discover the truth and find scientific and technological basis why such a claim. The team found out that the bread's popularity even spread beyond the borders of Culaba to the nearby towns of Kawayan and reached even Naval, the capital of Biliran Province. But the most solid evidence of the breads unique taste, as claimed, is the technology used by its makers.
The sisters Violeta and Minda Mahinay both in their mid 60's had been producing three varieties of bread: the descastro (derived from the popular field game "discus throw" since the bread resembles like the disc thrown in the game), pan-de-coco, and pan (the ordinary bread without fillings, while the first two have coconut fillings). The tradition had been handed down from generations in their family. As far as the sisters could remember, their great grandparents had been making the bread.
The formulation maybe unique but the makers only mentioned they are using the traditional main ingredients in bread making wheat flour, water, lard, salt. As far as dough preparation is concerned, we could not find any kneader or mixer around. The sisters use hand mixing and kneading. What caught our attention is the type of oven they use.
The oven is a simple rolled thick GI sheet resembling like a basin with an opening on its side serving as the door of the oven. During baking, the open top portion will be covered by a similar basin but wider in diameter. This top basin is where the coconut husk with the shells are burned as fuel to heat the chamber below it. There've been no secret to hide for the sisters as the technology is so simple and can be adopted by whoever is interested. But the long years of tradition in perfecting the formulation and the workmanship in baking is hard to emulate.
So, our mission was to document the technology and find ways to improve this grassroots innovation and hopefully partner with research institutions to standardize the design while preserving the traditional tastes of the bread that are produced out of the oven and their own traditional dough formulation.
Hopefully, the innovation can be preserved and improved and can be transferred to other interested users or producers, so that not only the residents of Culaba could taste the most delicious traditional bread.
By the way, our team tasted the 3 bread variants, and the DOST-Biliran teams verdict is that, the breads are really delicious with unique taste not comparable to those baked using the gas fired or electric oven.
Truly, the bread from Bool East is delicious and so far the last of its kind in the Province until, maybe another one claims to be better.
Why don't you taste it yourself? (By Dr. Romeo L. Dignos, Prov'l S&T Director, DOST-PSTC Biliran)