Strolling through the streets of Havana you are struck by the “European-ness” of Cuba’s largest city. Small wonder – in Habana Vieja you are surrounded by colonial architecture and narrow cobbled streets that resemble so many European cities.
And now, Havana’s baking might make you feel you’re in France rather than in the Caribbean thanks to Katia Bianchini and her hard working bakery team. The bakeries use the Bianchini name and cute black cat with a tail that’s a strand of wheat. With the addition of a new shop just off Plaza Vieja joining the original Bianchini Croissanteria-Dulceria on Sol No. 12 e/Ave de Puerto y Oficios, there are two places to buy Katia’s authentic goodies.
So how did French-style croissants turn up in Havana? Katia grew up in Cuba, the child of European parents. Her dad was a scientist who studied nuclear physics at the Universidad. Both mother and father admired the Revolution and had a propensity to the back to the land/natural lifestyle. For Katia that led to a love of making and enjoying delicious food and introducing some of the French traditions she grew up with.
Outfitting her apartment with the best baking equipment she could source in Cuba, Katia
set to work assisted by her daughter and a friend. Key ingredients, like French butter, are not easy to come by but Katia has developed a supply network to keep her creations rich and flavourful.
What a wonderful array of cakes, cookies and pastries, both sweet and savory: croissants de chocolate, mini muffins, tarts, banana bread and cakes are sold and also served with espresso and cappuccino or a characteristic coffee, juices and tea and infusions made with traditional Cuban plants such as orange flower, mint, lime and more. The more adventurous will also find the singular pleasure of trying a merger like guava and mint. Cloves , pepper , ginger and cinnamon mixtures will awaken the senses in each piece making it unique to the palate. It’s a Cuban take on the French patisserie that you’re going to love.
Bianchini – Sol No. 12 e/ Ave. del Puerto y Oficios, Habana Vieja
Bianchini II – San Ignacio N. 68, Plaza de la Catedral, Habana Vieja