His bakery is a cheerful place, the bright colours and vintage feel make it look as a set from one of Wes Anderson's films. Located in Western Asturias, near the cliffs of Busto in Valdés county, this bakery is a feel good place.
Jhonatan's courage and determination led him to open his bakery in his charming little village three years ago, becoming a prophet in his own land.
Ever since he was a child he has enjoyed helping out his uncle Ángel at his bakery. He remembers nostalgic those days "when all the family got together to help, with bollos preñaos (a typical Asturian bread chorizo roll) or with whatever there was needed. I was very young, I am sure I didn't help much, but I loved to go there, I very much liked the bakery".
Jhonatan went to Culinary School in Gijón and he graduated both in Baking & Pastry and in Culinary arts. He did work experience at Casa Gerardo, one of Asturias finest restaurants, but his passion for pastries was stronger. That's why after that he worked for two years at patisserie Pomme Sucré in Gijón, where he claims to have learnt the importance of raw materials and high quality produce. But his roots where calling and in his mid twenties he went back to his hometown, Busto.
"When I started I baked in my house's oven, I only did magdalenas (Spanish sort-of muffins), my uncle used to sell them when he went to the villages around here to sell his bread. Then people started ordering cakes for parties and it all started a bit like that", says Jhonatan, and adds "at times I felt a bit overwhelmed, sometimes businesses grow slowly but this was a more like a jump, from baking magdalenas at home to make over a hundred dozens of pastries at weekends".
Jhonatan takes pleasure in the small things of everyday life, like picking up some raspberries from his garden knowing that two hours later they will be on a cake. Or talk to his neighbours and clients.
"I don't care much about money, I just want to be happy and enjoy what I do. Money comes and goes and life goes so quickly, you cannot rewind", says Jhonatan. City life wasn't for him, "I much rather be here in my village, earning less, but being near my family, going for a walk with my dog to the lighthouse down the road, just doing something I love and people appreciate".
His humbleness is surprising, especially considering his age and how far he has gone already. Some people drive for over an hour just to buy his pastries and cakes. And with good reason. Jhonatan and his team have high standards and innovative ideas that don't go unnoticed.
"We try to play with different textures, with pastries that aren't excessively sweet, we aim for freshness" claims the baker. He wants to reformulate the idea that a dessert is something that makes you full, "I aim for my desserts to be something fresh, that is why I use fruits and acid notes all the time".
Few pastries can better represent Asturias' essence than his hazelnut sablée. "It is 100% hazelnuts, hazelnut sablée, hazelnut crunchy pastry shell with Maldon salt, hazelnut mousse, a layer of chocolate, roasted hazelnut and a hazelnut streusel with hazelnut praliné".
The baker confesses that from all the Asturian produce, he feels most attracted to hazelnuts and apples, “they are a very interesting combination”. And surely one of the creations he feels most proud of is his Asturias cake. It is made with hazelnut marzipan, apple compote and surprisingly, cider jam.
He claims that he got inspiration from the Santiago cake -ubiquitous in every street in the Galician capital- when he was looking to create a cake that could travel at room temperature and at the same time keeping fresh for long. *[I can assure that one of his delicious Asturias cakes got to London in perfect shape and condition after a week in the fridge in my last visit to Asturias]*.
For this new season Jhonatan is working in new formulas, “we are looking into merging pastries and cocktails”. He unveils some clues: mojito mousse, gin tonic, piña colada…
As well as his spectacular pastries and cakes, he has also mastered the art of the French pastries, like croissants or pains au chocolat. The intense hard work behind each of his pastries is clear in the first bite. Layers and layers of puff pastry with a crunchy exterior and a very soft texture, his croissants are simply a dream.
Furthermore, Jhonatan makes bespoke cakes and pastries for diabetics and also does show cooking at weddings. His bakery, where he talks to his clients by their first names, is open Saturdays and Sundays only, however during the week he takes orders by phone.
The picnic area in cape Busto, around 1,2 miles away from the bakery, offers the best views to enjoy Jhonatan’s delicious creations. Those rough cliffs have been an inspiration for him. And where could his pastries be more enjoyable than at the place he calls ‘my happy place’?
Pastelería Cabo Busto
Busto, s/n, 33789 Luarca, Asturias
+34 635 59 01 94