Thinking of a traditional Filipino Christmas? Picture this. Your elders wake you up before dawn for church, which you groggily sit through. Never mind that it’s before 5 am and you haven’t had breakfast. What keeps you up is what caps off the usual Simbang Gabi haunt: the bibingka. A local vendor stations himself outside the church doors, the aroma of his wares wafting to you as you sit hungrily on the pew. Just a couple of hymns to go, and you’ll have your snack. Sorry Jesus, we’ll pay more attention next time!

Bibingka is a classic Filipino dessert that can be found any time of year, but it’s somehow most enjoyed during the holiday season. For many of the older generations, bibingka was a post-Simbang Gabi or midnight mass tradition. This year, I asked myself: can this pancake-like rice treat be made at home?

Why not? The ingredients for a bibingka are readily available, especially this galapong version. Galapong is glutinous or malagkit rice, which adds an extra layer of decadence to a bibingka. I wanted to go extra traditional and actually cook this on coal instead of in an oven. I also use rice soaked in water to make my own rice flour! Feel free to use an oven and store-bought rice flour, these are perfectly fine and much easier.

RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sticky rice (violet or white is fine)
  • 1 cup white rice covered in water
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups of fresh coconut cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 salted eggs (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded nyog/coconut

Instructions:

  1. In a blender, combine the soaked rice and half of the coconut cream. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add in the remaining coconut cream and the sugar. Blend until combined and super smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, crack open the eggs. Whisk until lightly beaten.
  4. Add in the galapong (rice and coconut cream mixture) to the eggs while whisking. Mix until combined.
  5. Add in baking powder.
  6. You can pour the mixture into a cast iron pan lined with banana leaves and bake in the oven at 350 Fº for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  7. Or you can watch my attempt to cook it the way the vendors do in my video below!

At the 25 minute mark, top the bibingka with cheese and allow to bake for 10-15 more minutes. Once the cheese is browned and melted, top with desiccated coconut (niyog) and brown or muscovado sugar. And it’s ready to serve!

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below!

Erwan Heussaff
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