All They Knead is Love
It all started because Francesca Gacrama-Herring needed to keep her two sons entertained while quarantined due to the pandemic. So she dug up cook books that she had collected since high school and got busy playing in the kitchen with the kids. They made all the fun stuff - donuts, cookies, little cupcakes. When the supermarkets ran low on bread and yeast, Francesca decided to try her hand at making her own. “I was experimenting with it, I became so enthralled with it, it was the one thing that I felt like I had control over in this crazy environment that we were all in,” she recalls.
She ended up baking too many sourdough breads so she shared them with family and friends. “I gave to my dad who is diabetic then I gave away to neighbors.” At the suggestion of Virgie, one of the members of her household staff, Francesca ventured into selling her creation together with pan de sal. Eventually, friends of friends got a taste of what she was making and before she knew it, she was overwhelmed with orders.
It was at this point that she recruited her younger sister. When Francine Gacrama stepped in with her expertise in marketing and social media, there was no stopping the upward trajectory of their little enterprise. “We were filling up the dining room, the living room, there was no more floor space at all,” Francesca describes how her home looked during the early days. Merely four months after The Daily Knead was officially launched, production had to be moved to a commissary to accommodate customer demand. Plus, she needed to keep her kids from sneaking into the stash of orders.
Nowadays, The Daily Knead offers way more than just sourdough bread and pan de sal. Its line-up has expanded to include cakes, croissants, choux pastry, sourdough, brioche and Hokkaido loaves, ensaymada and rolls, sweet loaves (babkas), cookies, and ready-to-cook items (fresh pasta, sourdough pizza dough, and fluffy batter). Current best-sellers are the Leche Flan Chiffon Cake, Classic Éclair, and Whipped Dulce de Leche, Calamansi Caramel, and Cereal Milk Cortado croissants. “Every month we add something new, it’s just really fun that our audience understands that we’re constantly experimenting on flavors and they’re willing to try it,” says Francine. They’ve received approval from customers in as far as Bacolod, Romblon, and Davao as well as the US and even Johannesburg.
“The menu continuously evolves and changes and grows. The ideas come in hot and fast and when they do, I’m so eager to get into the kitchen and bake,” enthuses Francesca. From a team of five, there are now 20 people working on the menu. “We like fostering creativity in our bakery so everybody is encouraged to explore flavor profiles and come up with their own dish,” she says. “If you want to do something, if you want to create a new product, we will listen to you, we will give it a go, we basically want to be a platform for other bakers to showcase their talent as well,” adds Francine.
During R&D season, their Smeg stand mixer works extra hard because practically everyone uses it to develop their recipes. “Unlike other brands, the Smeg stand mixer doesn’t get hot despite continuous use,” reveals Francesca. “We use our Smeg stand mixer every day. We make a lot of curds and creams. I find the motor of the Smeg stand mixer to be powerful, it doesn’t struggle when mixing dough. I like how it’s very stable so I don’t need to hold it down the table, it’s not shaky even at the top setting. With meringue, you need to whisk it at top speed. When we work our way up, the transition is very smooth because of the stepless lever,” she continues.
While developing cream puffs and éclairs, they found the Smeg ALFA43K home business oven to be very helpful. “The four layers with a bit of spacing in between is just enough. With the heat distribution, it runs more efficiently. We would’ve saved more time if we had this in the beginning. It’s so much faster than the electric oven I was using at home when we were starting out,” observes Francesca. Because of the Smeg ALFA’s size and because it’s conveniently plug-and-play, it’s quite portable. “Sometimes we get sold out by 3pm, it would be nice if we could bake something quick at the venue,” she muses. The Smeg ALFA just might make an appearance on their store counter one of these days.
As pandemic restrictions are lifted, The Daily Knead is growing its presence in the real world. They have a pop-up store at the R2 level of Power Plant Mall, just outside of The Grid. “It’s such a different experience hearing feedback face to face, watching customers’ reactions,” Francine shares. “We just opened our dine-in experience at Sunae Asian Cantina in BGC, it’s our first ever permanent space. We are pushing ourselves to put up our own café-restaurant, eventually,” she discloses. Also in the pipeline are bread workshops.
“It’s been really fun and it’s been exciting, we can’t wait to see where this takes us,” the sisters chorus. No matter which direction the business goes, they vow to maintain their focus on product quality. “I want to keep true to the ethos that we have. Everything is made from scratch, including our curds and creams, no extenders or preservatives. We are firm on this. The flour we use is non-GMO and bromate-free. We have vegan chocolate. We try to source the best possible ingredients. Our whole wheat and our rye bread are 100% organic,” enumerates Francesca. “Everything is done with care, everything is tested on the kids. She would never bake anything if it wasn’t safe for the kids,” points out Francine. “I have to feel good giving it to my kids and to my diabetic dad,’ Francesca concludes.
Check out The Daily Bread’s menu at www.thedailyknead.com.ph For updates, follow @thedailyknead_ on Instagram and @thedailyknead on Facebook.
Try your hand at baking using the Smeg stand mixer and ALFA43K home business oven, visit the Smeg Experience Center at Park Terraces in Makati or Design Center in Mandaue. You may also shop at the Smeg pop-up store at MOA Square in Pasay or online at www.smegphilippines.com, Zalora, Trunc, Lazada, BeautyMNL, or Abenson. For inquiries, message the Smeg concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org or @smegphilippines on Instagram and @smegph on Facebook.