Bibingka

Delicious Bibingka you can easily make at home! Topped with salted eggs, cheese, and grated coconut, this classic Filipino rice cake is the ultimate Christmas treat!

Since BER months are here and the holiday season has officially started, I thought I’ll update my bibingka post with brand new photos and cooking tips. Because nothing says Filipino Christmas better than this Filipino native cake, right?

I spent a good part of this week testing various recipes, trying to come up with a traditional version made from galapong. But after going through enough rice grains to feed a nation in my experimentations, I realized the easiest way to make bibingka at home is using rice flour.

Forget soaking and grinding! Buy a bag of rice flour at the grocery store, and your favorite Filipino treat will be a matter of stirring the ingredients into a batter and quickly popping the mixture in the oven to bake!

 

What is Bibingka

Bibingka is a classic Filipino delicacy that’s especially popular during the Christmas season. Sold outside of churches during the nine-day Misa de Gallo, it’s commonly enjoyed after the mass as breakfast or as a midday snack with a cup of hot chocolate or salabat.

Similar to putong bigas, traditional bibingka is made with galapong. Rice grains are first soaked in water overnight to ferment and soften and then ground using stone mills into a thick paste.

The resulting rice dough is combined with water or coconut milk to form a batter and baked in a banana-lined terra cotta pot until set and nicely charred. These specialized clay pots function like an oven, using hot coals positioned both on top and the bottom as the heat source.

The rice cakes in their basic form are a simple mixture of galapong and water but can be made extra special with added beaten eggs, sliced salted duck eggs, and cheese. They’re usually eaten hot or warm with margarine spread on top along with a generous sprinkling of grated coconut.

Helpful Tips

  • Banana leaves keep the rice cake from sticking and also add incredible aroma. Inspect the leaves to make sure they’re intact and free of rips and pass them quickly over a gas flame until soft and pliable.
  • If you can’t find banana leaves, you can line the tins with parchment paper.
  • I use mamon tin molds which I bought in the Philippines, but large muffin tins or fluted pie pans will also work.
  • To deepen the color, you can add a drop or two of yellow food coloring to the batter.
  • I like to add sliced cream cheese as a topping. You can substitute kesong puto, queso de bola, or sharp cheddar cheese.
  • To achieve the characteristic charring obtained from cooking in clay pots, broil the bibingka for about 1 to 2 minutes after it has set.

Resting the batter

I came to this method by happenstance. I was retesting the recipe for the hundredth time last weekend, but since it was late in the night and I was too sleepy to finish baking the whole batch of batter, I refrigerated the remainder with plans to bake it the next day. The batter thickened quite nicely overnight and the resulting rice cakes were softer and fluffier!

Resting the batter, I found out, is a method that improves baked goods. It allows the flour to hydrate and the starch grains to swell, giving the liquid time to soften the flour and the gluten to relax. A good rest also helps to distribute the leavening agent evenly for a more tender crumb.

You can cook the bibingka right away, but if you do have time, I suggest letting the batter chill for the best results. Note that it gets thicker the longer it sits.

Make this bibingka a part of your Christmas celebrations! Looking for more holiday-worthy treats? Try my festive cathedral window gelatin or this crema de fruta cake.

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