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Baking News: Student Chefs!

By Bibi Wong

Within d.tech, there are many culinary talents, ranging from baking to pan-frying. I interviewed five d.tech students about cooking, and their favorite dish.

Dominique Donio:

Donio started baking when she was in her teens, with her mom and sister. Having a huge sweet tooth, Donio enjoys baking chocolate cake and chocolate cookies. When she cooks, “It takes a lot of time, but it is cool to see everything come together.” Once she finishes cooking, she feels accomplished, since she can enjoy her dish.

Donio made a rich, moist chocolate cake with a mocha chocolate flavored frosting. Her trick is using boiling water which makes the cake moist.

“Once I found the recipe with the cup of boiling water at the end, it changed everything” – Dominique Donio

Dominique's Chocolate Cake
Moist and delicious chocolate cake. Photo by Dominique Donio



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk, buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
  • ½ cup vegetable, canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

For the chocolate cake:

  1. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  2. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
  3. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the chocolate cake comes out clean.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  5. Frost cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.


Hayden Navarro:

At the age of 13, Navarro was inspired to cook from watching Iron Chef. One afternoon, he decided to make brownies from scratch and he thought it was really fun. WhenNavarro cooks, he feels, “hungry and creative.” He claims that after making a dish, it is satisfying to watch people enjoy what he cooked.

Navarro prepared a savory and sour chicken piccata, which is chicken breaded and fried in olive oil with a lemon caper sauce.

“ I am a lemon: sour at first, but one day I will become a beautiful chicken piccata.” – Hayden Navarro

Hayden's Chicken Picatta
Tender chicken with capers, a perfect dinner. Photo by Hayden Navarro


  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil (enough to cover bottom of skillet and then some)
  • All purpose flour (for dredging)
  • 4 eggs
  • Panko breadcrumbs or parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup capers
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Things to do before cooking:

  1. Strain the capers
  2. Beat the eggs in a bowl big enough to fit 1 chicken breast
  3. Melt butter in microwave


  1. Cover the chicken breasts individually in plastic wrap. Pound them until they are 1/2 inch thick. Remove the wrap. Dredge the breasts in flour, covering all sides and shaking off the excess. Then dunk them in the beaten egg, covering each side. Finally, cover them in Panko breadcrumbs (or parmesan cheese), pressing the breadcrumbs on both sides.
  2. In a skillet, pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom and a little more. Turn on burner to medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, place the chicken breasts in the oil. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Be sure to check the middle to make sure it is cooked all the way through. Once cooked, remove to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Turn off burner. Do not drain oil.
  3. In the skillet with remaining oil, pour the capers. Crush them with a spoon/spatula to release the brine for 30 seconds. Turn on burner to low heat. Add white wine, lemon juice, and butter. Stir to mix together, reduce for about 2 minutes.
  4. Return chicken to skillet. On each side for 30 seconds, spoon the sauce over the chicken.
  5. Turn off burner. Place each chicken breast on a plate, and pour sauce over each piece. Garnish with a lemon slice.


Kim Del Prado:

When Del Prado was in middle school, she was inspired by Gordon Ramsay and pictures of anime food. Her favorite style is baking, since cooking savory food is more expensive. When she cooks, she is, “happy and frustrated when it comes to making new dishes,” but once she nails it, she feels like a professional. After making the dish, the house smells really good: “Ohhh yeahhh, it’s good.”

Del Prado baked macarons with a vanilla buttercream. The macarons are hard on the inside but chewy on the inside, with a hint of sweet almond.

“I feel dead on the inside, it was fun though at the same time. It was a love-hate relationship between me and the macarons.” – Kim Del Prado

Kim's Macaroons
Pretty to look at, delightful to eat. Photo by Kim Del Prado


  • 3 eggs whites
  • 50g of white sugar
  • 200g confectioners sugar
  • 120g almond flour
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Sift almond flour in bowl then mix with confectioners sugar
  2. Put egg whites in mixer and mix until foamy
  3. Stop mixer and put in sugar, salt, and cream of tartar and mix until stiff peaks
  4. Add food coloring to the egg white mixture (optional) then mix a little more
  5. Take almond flour mixture and fold into the meringue (careful because you can mess everything up at this stage). Fold till the mixture flows like lava
  6. Put mixture into piping bag and pipe circles out onto parchment paper
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees
  8. Let macarons cool before taking them off the parchment paper
  9. Put cream in between two macaron cookies


Paulo Mangubat:

At the age of 16, Mangubat’s mom forced him to cook and he got used to it. He wants to try various types of cooking styles. When he cooks he, “flows, by having a purpose and having control of what [he] does.” After making the dish, he is proud of finishing, and sees if he can improve.

Mangubat prepared a yellow curry salmon with cilantro lime rice. The cilantro lime rice is refreshing, with a nice zesty zing to it, while the salmon was more mellow-yet-savory, with a hint of spice. The curry wasn’t too thick or runny, and had a textural contrast with the crunch of cashews.

“With cooking, this and that can become so much more. But don’t cook yourself, that not how you make yourself better.” – Paulo Mangubat


Paulo's Salmon and Curry
What a gorgeous presentation! Photo by Paulo Mangubat

Yeon Kim:

Kim watched a lot of cooking videos on YouTube as a time killer, and then she decided to make some recipes herself.t It turned out to be more fun than she had thought. Kim enjoys baking desserts, because she likes decorating them at the end. When Kim cooks, it feels as if she is, “packing a lunch for a spring picnic with all her friends but she is really going to eat it by herself in her dark room.” Her specialty is making pull-apart bread with different decorations on each bread, since it is easy to make and it’s good to bring to parties and outings.

Kim made onigiri, which is filled with savory mayo, tuna, and diced onion for crunch.

“Cooking is a lot more fun if your expectations are set incredibly low.” – Yeon Kim


  • 200 grams of white rice
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Sprinkle of crushed sesame seeds
  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1.5 tbsp mayo
  • Diced onion (as much as you want)
  • Pinch of sugar
  1. Put on some plastic gloves and mix the rice, sesame oil, vinegar, and sesame seeds  together (don’t mix too hard or too much or the rice will become super gooey, I made that mistake hahaha)
  2. Drain the canned tuna and then mix the rest of the ingredients in.
  3. Take some plastic wrap and spread the rice mixture onto it in the shape of a circle
  4. Then put some filling into the middle.
  5. Use the plastic wrap to cover the filling with rice and mold it into a triangle.
  6. Then take it out of the plastic wrap and put a strip of sushi seaweed onto the middle as shown above (only if you want to it’s just for decoration haha).
  7. Makes 2 onigiri
Yeon's Onigiri
Imagine a lunch box full of these tasty treats. Photo by Yeon Kim

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