When I was a kid, I had a fierce love for bibingka. My Mother used to take me to church a lot during the Christmas season, and the sellers of bibingka and puto bumbong would be lined up outside all day long. The smell wafting through the church doors was irresistible, and it would not be a rare sight for me to tug at my Mother’s skirt to signal that I wanted some bibingka. As a child, I knew Christmas was around the corner when a bazillion bibingka and puto-bumbong sellers suddenly pop up out of nowhere and line our usually empty school sidewalks.
I’m not sure if it’s out of habit or thanks to the nostalgia of my childhood memories, but I get a very real hankering for bibingka around Christmas season. I have been trying for the longest time to recreate them here at home, and sadly I can’t seem to get the texture I am aiming for; which is that of a slightly cakey crumb. Mine always ends up a little too firm, kind of like dense almond jelly if you know what that’s like.
And even though this recipe turned out a little firmer than I intended (was it from being kept too long in the oven???) these were still really good. Good enough that as soon as I finished shooting my blog photos one of my brothers cut up a huge piece and started munching away.
One of my favourite things about bibingka is how there are slices of itlog maalat (salted duck egg) nestled on top that creates such a nice salty contrast from the sweet cake. I love salted duck eggs on pretty much anything.
I’ve eaten it with pasta, but they are typically eaten mixed with fresh tomatoes as a side dish for a whole bunch of Filipino dishes with rice (usually garlic rice). I really can’t resist itlog maalat, and I’m glad that even though the bibingka has gone through some “modernization” over the years as its popularity grew, they still keep to the routine of adding slices of itlog maalat on top.
Lately the bibingka has become somewhat of a regular delicacy sold commercially in malls. They even invented a contraption that will allow cooking of several small bibingkas at once! I still believe that the bibingkas cooked traditionally over claypots and coals are the best. The claypots help them attain this deep woody flavour from the banana leaf which ends up infused within the sweet cakey base. This is something the commercial bibingkas have not been able to copy.
I’m looking forward to having someone teach me the correct technique in bibingka-making, but in my desire to make some homemade bibingka I keep looking for a recipe that will yield the same results as those cooked in the claypot. So far no luck, and yet this year’s bibingka experiment, compared to last year, is tons more delicious.
So maybe this isn’t the same as the bibingka the ate‘s and manang‘s sell out on the street, the fact remains that this particular recipe didn’t much last long in this house.
makes two 9-inch bibingkas, or 8 to 10 muffin-sized ones
- banana leaves, cut into circles bigger than size of pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar, more for sprinkling on top of the cakes
- 1 ¼ cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for brushing cakes
- 1 to 2 salted duck egg, sliced thinly
- ¼ cup grated Edam or cheddar cheese
- sugar and grated coconut (optional)
- 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two 9-inch pie plates or baking pans with banana leaves. (Or muffin pans, if using.)
- 2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
- 3. Beat eggs in a bowl using a mixer on medium speed. Add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
- 4. Alternate adding flour and coconut milk to the egg and sugar, mixing on medium speed after each addition. Add butter and mix well.
- 5. Divide batter equally into the two plates (or muffin pans) and bake initially for 12 to 15 minutes until bibingka just begins to take shape.
- 6. Prepare toppings for the bibingka's second bake.
- 6. Take out the still-soft bibingka from the oven, lay slices of salted duck eggs on top, and sprinkle generously with grated cheese. Continue baking until cake is cooked through, about 10 minutes more.
- 7. If desired, turn the broiler to low and broil the cakes to brown the top for about a few minutes. Watch the cakes carefully to keep them from burning.
- 8. Brush the cakes with butter and sprinkle with sugar and grated coconut. Serve warm with tea or hot cocoa.