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The Guide to Must-Try Cakes in Manila

by Patricia Baes
Oct 31, 2021
cake in manila
PHOTO BY Instagram/sainteannecakesmanila, Instagram/dulcelinxhogshaven, Instagram/creamerycatering, Instagram/vargaskitchen ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

( Though sweets as a whole pretty much evoke feelings of festivity, perhaps no dessert screams celebration like a grand ol’ cake on the table! They’re loved by just about everybody, tempting with their swoon-worthy looks and even more swoon-worthy taste. Manila is home to multiple kinds of cake that each have their own distinct personality—the most popular of which we round up on this list.


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These are the popular kinds of cake in Manila, and where to get each of them:

Vanilla Cake

vanilla cake in manila
PHOTO BY Facebook/M Bakery PH
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Vanilla cakes are perhaps the most basic variant there is, but by no means are they boring—at least when done right. At its core, a vanilla cake highlights the subdued but distinct flavor of vanilla. Some go for a leaner foam-cake backbone that brings the taste of vanilla at the forefront; online seller Brownbaggins, for example, makes a light yet impactful Generous Vanilla Cake (P1,299) with vanilla-tinged angel food cake, vanilla-bean creme patisserie, and fresh berries.

Other vanilla cakes go by the butter-cake category—vanilla and butter are a natural pair after all, and the butter gives the resulting cake a distinct tenderness and richer taste without taking over. M Bakery makes a classic Vanilla Cake (starts at P1,850/six inches with three layers) with a vanilla cake and buttercream. You'll also find versions with other embellishments, like sprinkles and birthday-cake crumbs, as in Sugar Gabbie's Milk Bar-inspired BDay Cake (P1,800).


Chocolate Cake

PHOTO: Facebook/Nono's

Some occasions call for a real smoldering bite, and chocolate cakes are generally your best bet. Though there are also lighter options around, most chocolate cakes go for a decidedly decadent profile that highlights the deep, dark taste of chocolate. Some so-called “old-fashioned” versions are a pure chocolate-on-chocolate affair: Big Al's Cookie Jar's famous Chocolate Decadence Cake (starts at P350/loaf), for example, pairs a moist chocolate cake with a chocolate-fudge frosting that isn’t too sweet.

Others take the decadence level up a notch by using chocolate ganache as the frosting, making for smooth forkfuls that caress the tongue like silk. This is a great way to showcase the use of great-quality chocolate—Mary Grace Cafe, for example, uses well-rounded tasting Callebaut chocolate in their Chocolate Truffle cake (starts at P522/mini), while Workshop goes for Valrhona Araguani 72% for a dark, robust bite in their towering 17-Layer Chocolate Cake (P340/slice, P2,400/whole).


Though chocolate is great on its own, it’s especially amazing with buttery caramel in the mix—and some chocolate cakes draw on that pairing, often with sea salt to boot. Stellar examples include Wildflour's hefty Salted Chocolate Cake (starts at P350/slice) and Sugarbee’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake (starts at P480/six-inch cake with one layer).

And as satisfying as a simple chocolate cake can be, it also takes well to being given additional texture. Take for example Nono's and their Nono's Chocolate Oblivion (P175/slice, P1,395/nine inches), which goes for a more contemporary combination of cake, whipped chocolate cream, and walnut praline.

Also read: The Best Chocolate Cakes You Can Get Delivered Right Now

Brazo de Mercedes

brazo de mercedes in manila
PHOTO BY Instagram/momandtinas

Old-fashioned as it might be, brazo de mercedes remains a well-loved cake in these parts. Its pairing of a pillowy meringue and lush egg-yolk filling is not only resourceful in that it uses both parts of the egg; it also makes for balanced forkfuls as the lightness of the former meets the richness of the latter. It sure doesn’t hurt that this cake is generally on the affordable end of the spectrum, either!

More often found in rolled-cake form, brazo de mercedes is available at just about every commercial bakeshop. You can find a standout version by Vargas Kitchen (starts at P275/mini)with its soft meringue and velvety filling. Mom and Tina’s, too, makes a reliable Brazo de Mercedes (P395), with a light yet smooth filling we could just about eat by the spoonful.

A popular variation of the cake is the frozen brazo de mercedes, which—as the name implies—takes the dessert to another level with a layer of ice cream in the mix! One shop that’s know for their version is The Sweet Life by Ange, whose bestselling Sweet Surrender (P810/small, P1,190/large) combines layers of a graham crust, French Vanilla ice cream, silky custard, and a fluffy meringue. Bellefleur by Beatrix also gives the dessert a nutty twist with their famous Frozen Ube Brazo (P1,300) with ube ice cream.


Strawberry Cake

PHOTO: Instagram/dulcelinxhogshaven

Fruits add not only color, but also vibrancy and a tanginess that offsets the cake's richness. One especially popular fruit cake is strawberry cake. Many versions go by the Japanese-style strawberry shortcake formula of pairing a simple sponge or chiffon cake with strawberries and cream—there's Patisserie Bebe Rouge's Strawberry Shortcake (starts at P155/slice), for one, which is as simple as it is done absolutely well. Sainte Anne Cakes Manila’s Strawberry Shortcake (P2,000/special, P2,500/extra-special) highlights great-quality strawberries, while Flour Pot Manila’s Strawberry Shortcake (P2,500/nine inches) gets an added layer of richness thanks to custard.

Others flavor the cake and/or cream with pureed strawberries, as does the famous Baby Yulo version (starts at P1,600/small), which its layers of buttery cake and tangy-creamy strawberry cream that’s almost like ice cream when the cake’s served semi-frozen! Dulcelin Gourmet’s Strawberry Cake (P750/six inches, P1,400/10 inches) also has a soft chiffon and strawberry-tinged cream, as well as a cashew nougat in between layers for added texture.


Also read: 10 Great Strawberry Cakes You Can Order Right Now

Caramel Cake


Caramel is as lush and sultry as you can get, with how it pairs the depth of burnt sugar with the tender embrace of cream and/or butter. And you bet it makes for totally swoon-worthy cakes that might sound old-fashioned at the onset, but totally stand the test of time.


Most caramel cakes in Manila go by the formula of a sponge, chiffon, or butter cake with a smooth caramel frosting. Just some of the versions around that you can rely on are Estrel’s Caramel Cake’s namesake (starts at P700) whose icing has a relatively dark flavor and velvety consistency; and Costa Brava’s Caramel Cake (starts at P700), which is our favorite in Manila with its ultra-light character and creamy caramel icing that’s amazingly not too sweet. A decidedly richer take is Mom and Tina’s Caramel Butter Cake (P797.25), which pairs a thick caramel icing with a cake that’s slightly denser and more buttery in flavor.

Also read: The Best Caramel Cakes You Can Get Delivered Right Now

Ube Cake

PHOTO: Cara Mia

Ube (a.k.a. purple yam) has a naturally nutty taste—not to mention an eye-catching, grayish-purple hue—that makes for crave-worthy cakes well-loved by Filipinos. Most basic ube cakes pair a plush ube cake (whether it's of the sponge, chiffon, or butter-cake sort) with a plain or ube frosting (whether it’s of the buttercream or whipped-cream sort). A great example is The Pastry Company’s Classic Ube Cake (P1,100), which has ube-tinged chiffon layers with an icing of whipped cream to make every forkful dreamier.


Though many of these cakes get their namesake flavor (and color) by way of ube flavoring, some will go as far as to include actual purple yam to the mix, either with shredded or powdered yam, or ube halaya, in the dough and/or frosting. Such is the case with Mana Bakery’s Ube Halaya Cake (starts at P400/junior), which has a simple but stellar tandem of a light ube chiffon and dreamy ube halaya. More elaborate versions include the Ube Chiffon with Ube Halaya Filling (P1,300) by Butternut Bakery, which has a thick ube halaya filling plus French buttercream piped as roses on top of the cake; and Cara Mia’s Ube Cake (starts at P155/slice), which has a billowy ube halaya cream in between ube cake layers.

A popular version of ube cake trades the usual ube frosting for layers of straight-up leche flan, whose custardy-caramelized profile and silky texture goes beautifully with the ube’s depth. One version to try is Kenji Cafe’s Layered Ube Leche Flan Cake (P1,450), which—as the name implies—has plush layers of ube cake and silky-smooth leche flan.


Also read: The Ube Desserts Worth Getting Delivered Right Now

Mango Cake

mango cake in manila
PHOTO BY Instagram/sainteannecakesmanila

As mangoes are the Philippines’ national fruit, it comes as no surprise that mango cakes are well-loved in the country. As with strawberry cakes, these usually go by the shortcake equation of cake, cream, and mangoes, which highlights the fruit’s lush and juicy profile. One version in particular that pulls this off beautifully is the Mango Shortcake by Sainte Anne Cakes Manila (P1,850/special, P2,350/extra special), where a lush chantilly cream, sweet and juicy fresh mangoes, and a light-as-air chiffon cake join forces to make for dreamy, balanced forkfuls.


Another popular genre of mango cakes takes after the European dacquoise, with crisp-crunchy meringue or nut-meringue layers and cream or buttercream keeping the mango company. Cuerva Bakeshop’s Mango Torte (P1,480/11 inches, P1800/14 inches) is an example that’s relatively simple but topnotch, combining a nut-meringue crust, house-made mango sauce, and fresh mangoes with whipped cream around the borders. Dulcelin Gourmet makes a similar version (P950/nine inches, P1,400/12 inches) with a crisp-chewy nougatine, while Mary Grace Cafe has their semi-frozen Mango Bene (P1,874) with cashews, meringue, and custard.

On the more elaborate end of the spectrum is the famous Mango Bravo cake by Conti’s (starts at P245/slice), which screams “party” with its retro look and towering height (it’s roughly seven inches tall!)—and breathes a welcome hint of bittersweet into the mix with chocolate mousse joining in the mango-wafer-cream party.

Also read: The Best Mango Cakes You Can Get Delivered Right Now


Carrot Cake

PHOTO: Butternut Bakery

Carrot cake could very well be the sweet-toothed’s favorite way to get their veggies in. It features cake layers with grated carrots in the mix for a slightly earthy bite, and gets a warm flavor profile from the addition of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, among others. (With the sugar and oil or butter in there, this ain’t quite health food, but who’s counting?) At times, nuts like walnuts or pecans are stirred in for crunch, or raisins for a sweet and juicy flavor burst. It’s also typically paired with a cream-cheese frosting, whose tangy-lush profile pairs beautifully with the cake’s spices.

Wildflour’s version (starts at P295/slice) is one of our favorites, thanks to its moist and lightly spiced cake base full of carrots, walnuts, and plump and juicy raisins, and cream-cheese frosting that’s not too sweet. Another great pick is the Moistest Carrot Cake Ever (P1,400) from Butternut Bakery—it lives up to its name and is packed with carrots, pineapples, and walnuts, with a silky cream-cheese frosting that caresses the tongue like butter.


Given the penchant of carrot for the tang of cream cheese, you can also find versions with a layer cheesecake for added oomph. Tilde Bakery & Kitchen’s Carrot Cake Cheesecake (P225/slice, P1,500/nine inches) is one to try; it’s got a cheesecake center in between layers of carrot cake, plus a cream-cheese frosting on top!

Tres Leches Cake

tres leches from wildflour
PHOTO BY Wildflour

For the love of all things pure and milky, tres leches cake has got your back. This creamy cake pays homage to the clean, unadulterated flavor of dairy, with a sponge cake that’s poked and drizzled with three kinds of milk—usually evaporated, condensed, and heavy cream—hence the name. Adding to its dreaminess are toppings meringue or whipped cream—and at times some form of caramel is drizzled over, like dulce de leche or cajeta (goat’s milk caramel).

Tres leches cake has been around for many years but became trendy in these parts in 2020, with online sellers and big bakeshops crafting up their own version of the classic. Wildflour, for one, makes a swoon-worthy Pastel de Tres Leches (P590/small, P2,350/big tray) that’s a bestseller for a reason—its moist milk-soaked cake harmonizes beautifully with its whipped-cream topping, and the dulce de leche on top gives each forkful just the right amount of depth.


While a good basic tres leches is always a drool-worthy option, it also takes well to other spinoff flavors. Online seller Milkrun, for example, makes versions flavored a la Ube (P580/small, P1,600/large), Espresso (P595/small, P1,700/large), Cereal Milk (P480/small, P1,350/large), and more—all of which are creamy yet balanced, and never too sweet.

Also read: For the Love of Milk: The Sweet History of Tres Leches Cake

Coffee or Mocha Cake

PHOTO: Indulge Patisserie

Though coffee is a popular beverage to pair with cake, Filipinos are also known to mix our coffee in cake to form coffee cakes (note that this is different from the American coffee cake, which usually doesn't contain coffee)! The beverage has got a deep and robust profile, after all, which lends its a bittersweet thrust to the mix and is great paired with creamier, sweeter components. Add chocolate to the mix and you’ve got yourself a mocha cake, with the chocolate contributing a dusky undertone to the roasty flavor of the coffee.


To spell out the obvious, coffee or mocha cakes pair both flavors via the cake itself and, of course, the icing. Indulge Patisserie’s Mocha Cake (P1,200) is a great example, with a plush mocha chiffon and smooth mocha buttercream. The tandem also takes well to the addition of nuts, as you’ll see in The Pastry Company’s Classic Mocha Cake that’s got almonds in the mix; and/or caramel, as with Sucre PH’s Espresso Honeycomb Cake (P2,250/eight inches) with burnt-sugary honeycomb pieces on top and caramelized-crunchy feuilletine on the bottom.

Coffee and mocha are also another popular flavors to turn into a dacquoise or torte—like Homemade by Roshan’s Jamocha Walnut Fudge Torte (P2,200), with layers of walnut meringue, espresso cream, and chocolate ganache making for crunchy-creamy forkfuls.

Also read: The Best Coffee- and Mocha-Flavored Cakes in Manila Right Now

Ice Cream Cake

ice cream cake in manila
PHOTO BY Sebastian's Ice Cream

Ice cream is great, cake is great—put them together and you’ve got an even more indulgent treat! They offer the best of both worlds, letting you enjoy your the pillowy character of cakes and cold, creamy ice cream. Ice-cream shop Sebastian’s makes it in an array of flavors, from the Dark Chocolate Decadence (P155/slice, P1,650/whole) to the Pastillas de Leche (P155/slice, P1,650/whole) to the Birthday Cake (P155/slice, P1,650/whole). Cold Stone Creamery is also famous for their Cookies and Creamery (P1,598), which is topped with Oreos. Some brands, like The Creamery Catering, also make versions in tin cans; give their Choco Banoffee (P590) a try when the dessert hankering strikes.

Also read: Play It Cool: The Best Ice-Cream Cakes and Frozen Cakes to Try Right Now

Red Velvet Cake

PHOTO: Instagram/homemadebyroshan

Though no longer as trendy as it was a couple of years back, red velvet cakes have pretty much become a staple on bakeshop menus that Filipinos have come to love. When done right, there’s more to red velvet cake than just being, well, red; most modern versions are marked by a moist cake that’s predominantly flavored with vanilla but has just a hint of chocolate, and is often paired with a cream-cheese frosting that lends a tangy lift to the mix. M Bakery’s Red Velvet Cake (starts at P2,200/six inches with three layers) is one to try; it goes for the classic pairing of a red, lightly chocolatey cake and cream-cheese frosting, though you can also switch it for a whipped vanilla icing.


As with carrot cake, you’ll also find versions that include straight up cheesecake in the mix. An example is Homemade by Roshan’s Red Velvet Supreme (P3,300); it’s got a whole layer of New York cheesecake in between red-velvet cake layers, and even comes topped with rose-piped miniature cupcakes!

Crepe Cake

Salted Butter Caramel Crepe Cake from La Creperie
PHOTO BY Instagram/lacreperieph

It’s all about layers, layers, and more layers when you’re talking about crepe cakes. They the typical cake-plus-frosting tandem into overdrive as they’re made with multiple thin layers of the thin French pancakes known as crepes, and some form of creamy filling. Aside from making for a stunning (if not oddly satisfying) cross-section, the more even distribution of components give you the perfect ratio of these components in every forkful!

No one does crepe cakes quite like Paper Moon—think light, buttery crepes with a velvety pastry cream that can be had in flavors like the custardy Original (P1,300), Strawberry (P1,650), and Tiramisu (P1,300). Crepe spot La Creperie also makes excellent versions that include the French Vanilla (P215/slice) and Salted Butter Caramel (P215).

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