Something new: Royal Hawaiian Bakery opens today

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Today marks the Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort’s 90th anniversary, and one of the celebrations includes the opening of their Royal Hawaiian Bakery. The bakery opens at 10 a.m. today, but will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., making The Royal Hawaiian the only hotel on the island to feature its own stand-alone bakery.

Having her baby: Executive Pastry Chef Carolyn Portuondo launches her new baby today, and gives birth next month to her real baby.

Executive Pastry Chef Carolyn Portuondo launches her new baby today, and gives birth next month to her real baby.

It’s located on the Coconut Lanai, just off the lobby, and will offer the hotel’s famous banana bread, classic freshly baked desserts to custom-created cakes by Executive Pastry Chef Carolyn Portuondo, Pastry Chef Quirino Domingo and their patisserie team. You can also get fresh brewed coffee (note the heavy duty machines in back of her) and other drinks. They’ll have savory items, too, and eventually have some other grab-and-go items like salads and sandwiches. Kamaaina will appreciate the four-hour validated self-parking with every $20 purchase from the bakery.


Unique scones: Cranberry orange, mango cardamom, pineapple ginger, and strawberry lavender.


Koloa pineapple-roasted coffee cake.

I got to try a couple of things ahead of time, fresh and hot out of the oven. Everything is created and baked on property, so it’s all fresh and fluffy, even the scones. Portuondo, who’s been working on bringing this bakery to life, said the pastries will range from about $2.50 to $5, which is not bad at all for a Waikiki hotel.

She added that although there will be familiar items like croissants, danishes, and macarons, local touches will be the big draw, like their Big Island honey macadamia nut sticky buns, Royal monkey bread, Hawaiian vanilla custard brioche braids, haupia cream brioche, and Royal Hawaiian signature pink snowballs. She’ll even have the trendy Kouign-amann, which is like a muffin-shaped, caramelized croissant.

We tried their famous banana bread and banana muffins as the staff was putting up finishing touches.

We tried their famous banana bread and banana muffins as the staff was putting up finishing touches.

Usually, hotel guests will be greeted with a wrapped loaf of the Royal Hawaiian’s famous banana bread, but now they’ll be given a coupon to the bakery so they can choose whatever pastry they want. I’m guessing they’ll still opt for the banana bread, though — I took this plate to yoga class and everyone was yelling (yes, yelling) about how good it was.

Limited edition gifts and sets for omiyage.

Limited edition gifts and sets for omiyage.

For 2017, The Royal Hawaiian Bakery will offer special commemorative tins, which you can get when you book the 90th Anniversary room package, or by simply buying it. They’ll also have limited-edition coffee blends and gifts.

If Portuondo sounds familiar, it’s possibly because you saw her on my blog five years ago when she owned Caked Las Vegas, and she was subsequently featured on TLC’s “Fabulous Cakes.” She’s from Hawaii, but after her stint in Vegas, she joined the Royal Hawaiian in 2014.

By the way, it seems that most people knew about the Royal Hawaiian’s signature pink haupia cake, except me. When I saw it on the bakery menu, I confessed that I’d never even heard of it. How dense is that? So Portuondo not only gave me a slice to take home, she gave me the recipe.

Royal Hawaiian Pink Haupia Cake
8 ounces cake flour (about 1-3/4 cups)
6 ounces sugar (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
4 ounces vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
4 ounces egg yolks (about 5 large yolks)
5-1/2 ounces water

8 ounces egg whites (from 7 large eggs)
4 ounces sugar (1/2 cup)

Haupia filling:
1 12-ounce can coconut milk
4-6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3/4 cup water
3-4 drops red or pink food coloring

1 quart heavy whipping cream
6 ounces sugar (3/4 cup)
Red or pink food coloring
Sweetened coconut flakes

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 8-inch baking pans (9-inch pans work, too). Line bottoms with parchment if desired. Sift together cake flour, sugar and baking powder; set aside. Whisk together oil, egg yolks and water; gradually add to dry ingredients, continuing to whisk until a smooth batter is created. To make meringue: Whip egg whites until foamy, then gradually sprinkle in sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Gently fold batter into meringue, stirring until no streaks of white remain. Pour into prepared pans and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on rack. To make haupia filling: Combine coconut milk and sugar in pot; bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in cornstarch-water slurry. Mixture will thicken quickly. Add food coloring to create a pink color, and continue whisking as mixture bubbles for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour into separate container and let cool completely. To make topping: Whip cream with sugar to form medium peaks. Add food coloring to create a pastel pink. Set aside. Color coconut flakes with more food coloring. Remove cake from pans and cut each 8-inch round into 2 equal layers, for a total of 4 layers. Put cooled haupia in mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Top with a layer of haupia. Continue with more layers of cake and haupia to make 4 layers. Cover the cake with pink whipped cream and sprinkle with coconut flakes.

Tip: Wrap your cooled cakes in plastic wrap, then freeze for a few hours or overnight. To cut the layers, first let the cakes thaw slightly. Use a long serrated knife to cut each cake in half horizontally. If you don’t trust your eye, measure the halfway point with a ruler and mark it at several spots around the cake with toothpicks, to guide your knife.

My takeout slice of pink haupia cake.

My takeout slice of pink haupia cake.