If you have never tasted the Vargas Butter Cake, where have you been for the last 20 years!?! Seriously, this is my favorite butter cake of all time. A Makati icon, it deserves to be in the Hall of Fame of home-cooked specialties. It is light, airy, consistent, flavorful, moist but not wet and sweet but not cloying. I have tried to make butter cake many times using many different recipes, many grades of butter, different pans, cooking temperatures, etc. but none has come close to this. The Vargas Butter Cake has been melting in peopleâ€™s mouths for the past two decades, I think. The recipe is a closely guarded secret but I suspect one of the key components is canned rather than fresh butter. Somehow the intensity of flavor must come from a canned butter rather than the pathetic watery locally available butters. The lightness may turn off Western afficionados of butter cake that like it dense but this is a uniquely Filipino twist to butter cakeâ€¦ almost like the attraction some find for really pouffy mamon. Maybe if I hung around outside their house and rooted through their garbage I could figure out what makes this cake tick.
The Vargas Butter Cake is great on its own. It is also a terrific foil to fresh berries and cream. It goes well in a rich trifle. I can eat huge amounts of it together with a pot of good tea. We order it at least 6-10 times a year. And now I notice it is available at both the Saturday Salcedo Market and the Sunday Legazpi Marketâ€¦ If you have never tried this cake before or if you havenâ€™t had some recently, give them a call. Vargas Kitchen at 49 Pili Avenue, Forbes Park, Makati. Telephone 810-7529 and 817-8483. They have lots of other home cooked specialties on offer but I have rarely gone beyond the butter cake. Order a day in advance. If you just want a taste, check them out at the Salcedo or Legazpi markets. At PHP 600 for a large cake measuring 10 x 14 inches, it is pricey but worth every single centavo!