Biko (sticky rice cake)

My grandmother used to buy biko whenever she went to the market. As soon as she arrived, she would call me and my brother and we would have biko for our mid-morning merienda. That was decades ago. When I became a mommy, I introduced my daughters to biko and we have a lot of fond memories associated with it. Probably the most memorable is how my daughter lost her first baby tooth while eating biko when the loose tooth got stuck in the sticky rice cake. Fortunately, she felt it before swallowing. Biko, a sticky rice cake topped with latik (curdled coconut cream)

But what is biko? It is a cake made from glutinous rice cooked in sweetened coconut milk and topped with latik (curdled coconut cream). I was surprised to find a description of biko in another site as a rice cake with caramel topping so when I went to the market earlier today, I asked the hawkers the proper names for the different rice cakes on display. The consensus? What I’ve known from childhood as biko is indeed called biko and the one topped with caramelized sugar and coconut cream is called bibingkang malagkit. I must concede though that biko might be called by some other name in non-Tagalog speaking regions of the Philippines.

No, I did not cook the biko in the photo. I bought it in the market (outside the market, if we have to be precise) along with the puto which I ate for breakfast when I got home. So, anyone who posts a comment asking for a recipe of biko is presumed to be a person who comments without first reading what he/she is commenting on and who deserves to be ignored.

The good news, however, is that I am experimenting on how to make biko. It cannot be as simple as cooking glutinous rice and sugar in coconut milk. I’ve done that and the individual rice grains were cloudy instead of clear. I’m thinking that, perhaps, the rice is soaked then steamed after adding coconut oil. We’ll see how future experiments turn out.


  1. Maricel says

    We cook biko by cooking the malagkit in 2nd extraction coconut milk. Then we cook up a sugar syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage and then add in the cooked malagkit. Stir until the syrup is absorbed. Pour into a tray lined with banana leaves smeared with coconut oil. Cut into diamonds. Top with latik made from the coconut cream.

    • Heather says

      I think what I thought was Biko is actually the other cake you described…. Hmmm. It’s been so long. Guess I’ll just have to try both to be certain ????

  2. says

    I think this is the equivalent of sinukmani of the Tagalog. I grew up knowing it as biko but it became sinukmani when we came to Laguna. Isn’t it surprising that just three ingredients – rice, coconut and sugar can equate to different rice cakes? If you grind the rice, you get bibingka, puto, etc…

    I haven’t cooked biko yet, but I know you steam the rice first (not sure if with coconut milk ha). Then make latik from sugar and coconut cream. When it starts to oil, I think that’s the time you add the steamed rice. I can’t remember at what point rally you should add the steam rice. If too early, the biko spoils easily.

  3. Maricel says

    You are welcome! I forgot to tell you that we pat the cooked biko into the desired thickness with our fingers wrapped in oiled banana leaves. Cut the biko while still hot using a knife wrapped with an oiled strip of banana leaves.