Mexican bakery opens in Forest Grove, provides authentic treats
With limited Mexican dessert options in Forest Grove, Lucia Trinidad-Cauich saw an opportunity to serve a growing Hispanic population in far western Washington County.
Last November, Trinidad-Cauich opened the Mexican bakery La Panadera. The small space on 2420 19th Ave. is a warm oasis filled with traditional pan dulce, which is Mexican bread in the form of a sweet roll or sweet bun. The bread may contain fillings, such as candied fruit, or come as a plain fluffy dough that can be dipped into a warm sweet drink.
"Most of the people who come in love the small desserts," said Trinidad-Cauich as she pointed to a tall cooler towering her petite frame. "Customers also tell me that no one else makes the variety of Mexican bread that we do."
Trinidad-Cauich has a limited supply of flan — a small, caramel custard dessert with a layer of clear caramel sauce on top. The wobbly treat must be made a day in advance for the custard to chill and set, but cakes are a different story, she said.
"If it's a simple tres leches cake, the order can be placed the same day," Trinidad-Cauich explained. The cake is made with three milks and is normally consumed at birthdays or other special occasions.
But if customers want a large or complicated order, they must put in the request three to four days in advance, Trinidad-Cauich said. The bakery also makes chocolate, cappuccino and mocha cake.
Trinidad-Cauich has been baking cakes professionally for about 10 years. For someone who bakes cakes almost every day — and owns a bakery — Trinidad-Cauich confessed she doesn't enjoy eating her delicious creations.
"I only like chocolate cake, sometimes," she said with a laugh. "But for me to casually sit down with a slice of cake, just no. I don't like it. As for the bread, that I will eat. I like to eat it as much as I like to make it."
Trinidad-Cauich wakes up every day at 5 a.m. to fill metal trays of freshly baked bread for her customers. With the help of her sister and mentor, all three run the bakery from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
When asked how she has the patience to bake bread day in and day out, Trinidad-Cauich said: "We're accustomed to it after working for many years on that schedule. We used to work for other people at other stores before this."
Trinidad-Cauich credited her mentor for teaching her to bake when she had no experience. After she opened her shop, she felt it was only right to have him baking alongside her.
"I owe him a lot," Trinidad-Cauich said. "I can say that everything I learned was from him. As for what I learned from cake making, I learned from my brother who lives in Mexico. He was here with me and taught me the basics. I guess I'll say half of my skills I get from my brother and the other from my mentor."
Originally from Quintana Roo, Mexico, Trinidad-Cauich is excited to bring her heritage to Forest Grove. She contemplated opening La Panadera in Hillsboro but then realized there would be heavy competition.
Three months later, she has people from as far as Tillamook coming by and filling bags full of bread.
"I was waiting for the opportunity to find a small spot just like this," she said. "A small building that was visible and had a lot of foot traffic."
As she finished her sentence, a customer came in frantically asking for a savory bread filled with jalapeños. Trinidad-Cauich informed him there would be fresh loaves in about 20 minutes.
Most people would have left after not getting what they wanted right away, but instead, the man grabbed a croissant style bread and told her, "I had to leave with something."
Moments like these make Trinidad-Cauich's early mornings and late nights at the bakery worth it.
"The Forest Grove community has been very helpful and lovely," she said. "They have been coming in, recommending us and sharing photos of the bread online."
Nothing brings Trinidad-Cauich more joy than being able to bake every day. After working for various people throughout the years, she's happy to finally have a bakery of her own.
"It's a dream come true," she said. "It's something small, but it makes me happy knowing that I can make the decision to do what I like every day."
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