If you happen to be in Queens, you might want to check out Kora Bakery, which serves doughnut flavors like Pili & J, Abokado, and Leche Flan ni Lola Mini.
With leftover brioche dough and ube pastry cream from a birthday cake she made, Chef Kimberly Camara fused the two and fried it. This seemingly ordinary but serendipitous work led to the creation of what is now a well-loved bakery in New York, Kora.
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Together with her partner Kevin Borja, Camara developed more recipes. After they got laid off from their jobs as a commis chef and a server in Union Square Hospitality Group because of the pandemic, the couple went to sell the doughnuts on Instagram.
Eventually, to keep up with the numerous orders, they opened up their own commissary space. At present, at least 10,000 customers are waiting to get their fill of the doughnuts fused with intriguing Filipino flavors.
A taste of home
The Filipino online pop-up bakery started in the Summer of 2020. Originally, Camara believed Kora to be a short-term project. But, as the orders increased, she and Borja knew it was time to establish a brand for their creations.
They came up with the name “Kora” which combines Camara’s first name with that of her late grandmother “Corazon.” The latter’s handwritten recipe book helped in developing the menu, especially their famous Leche flan-flavored doughnut.
While these baked goods typically take on flavors like chocolate and strawberry and are topped with sprinkles, nuts, and the like, Kora’s take on doughnuts highlights Camara’s heritage. They use Filipino flavors like ube, halo-halo, abokado con yelo (avocado with ice), calamansi, and champorado. The fillings make use of the actual ingredients, but are made into a pastry creme base.
Flavors tell stories
Interestingly, some of the doughnuts have stories behind them. For instance, the Pili & J is Kora’s version of the popular sandwich. It was Borja’s wish to create a deep-friend version of this, which Camara later fulfilled.
Pili & J combines the Philippine nut with mora, a blackberry native to Latin America. The choice for the ingredients is a marriage of cultures from the couple; Camara has Filipino roots while Borja is of Ecuadorian heritage.
Another of their famous flavor is Leche Flan ni Lola Mini. The brioche is filled with flan cream and the famous Leche flan of Lola Corazon. When the latter passed away in early 2020, the family found her handwritten recipes, which included the flan.
The New York-based doughnut shop opens orders every Monday. They also offer a set of five doughnuts called “Sari-Sari” consisting of one of each flavor of the week. These are available for pick-ups on Thursdays and Fridays.