The best sound is your own name. Cambranes. Say it with me, kahm-brah-neys. Do you hear it?
Its the sound of a sweet roll in the midst of a chew. You bite down and the sound is “uhm-mrrahhhh…nom…nom.”
Cambranes. A word that will forever resonate in my Pavlovian file of “salivate-when-you-hear- this” food names.
Salvador Cambranes and his wife Indira own their self-named bakery on Freetown Road in Belize City. They began small, over ten years ago, with a nest-egg and skills learned from Indira’s grandmother. “We started with making just five pounds of dough a day into Creole bread. Its been ten years now and we have added a lot more,” said Salvador.
They are famous for their Creole bread.
Creole bread is a large, double man-fist size of roll. The bread is shaped in a round, and packed tight on a baking tray, making it bake to a square shape with a crowned top. Its a pull-apart roll; dense but not heavy in texture. The coconut milk in the dough makes it rich and filling.
Its by far their best seller.
Indira like to serve hers with fried beans and fish. “People also like it sliced with butter or as a sandwich bun.”
I had eaten the buns before meeting the Cambranes, each time I was eating a chicken burger at a local restaurant. It was not so much the chicken but the Creole buns that kept me going back for more.
The Creole bread sold so well that they keep adding to their offerings: Johnny cakes, buns, pan dulce, croissants, French bread, corn cake, cookies, coconut tarts, cinnamon rolls, caramel cake, doughnuts, ham, cheese and jalapeño stuffed rolls, garlic twists and braided sweet bread.
“We made this whole business on our own. I am really proud of that. We sold some land and put the money away and used it for the business. We are held to just ourselves and don’t owe anyone,” said Indira.
A staff of four bakers work the kitchen of the bakery. Its lined with walls of ingredients centered around steel tables and a large carousel-style oven. Salvador rotates from the back to the front of the house, maned by Indira and one other worker.
The front is neat and clean with simple glass cases, filled with their products. Bakery items are sold to walk-in customers and to wholesalers like restaurants and street-side vendors.
“We are here baking from 5:00 am to 3pm, open to customers at 8:30 until 6:30pm.” Cambranes is the place for seasonal specialties like Christmas Black Cake and Easter Hot Cross Buns. Salvador showed me the sugar and spiceberry glaze that is beloved by their customers. It is brushed on the finished rolls. “It gives them a nice shine and finish. We use all natural ingredients and no preservatives,” he says.
Cambranes has a reputation for being the best in the city for two reasons: One – the flavor and feel in your mouth of their goodies, are memorable and addictive, Two – their customer service is rooted in their philosophy that no one should go hungry.
“I am aware that we are making people’s daily bread and I take that seriously. We have been asked to open up a Belizean bake shop in the US but we are rooted here. We provide for people from all walks of life,” said Indira. A deeply spiritual woman, Indira helps those in need with what they can provide from the bakery. “I have faith that God has provided me with gifts. Its for us to give back and give freely.”
Cambranes is located at 13 Freetown Road in Belize City, C. A. #501-223-0426
A recipe for Creole Bread can be found here if you click on the words “Nom Nom”
Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons