What makes Christmas bibingka different from all other Filipino rice cakes? The addition of salted duck eggs and kesong puti (cheese from carabao milk) and using bottom and top heat to ensure proper browning. And, of course, you have to make it with rice batter.
Traditionally, the rice batter is made by soaking rice in water and grinding the grains until the mixture becomes a pourable batter. In this recipe, because it is for home cooks, a combination of rice flour and sticky rice flour is used.
The batter is cooked in a cast iron pan lined with wilted banana leaves. And, instead of glowing charcoal, the bibingka is cooked in the oven — first, using the bottom heat and, towards the end, both the top and bottom heat.
I understand that Filipinos based abroad might not have access to some of the ingredients, especially kesong puti. Don’t miss the notes after the recipe for substitutes that will work well without detracting from the authentic taste of this lovely rice cake.
Christmas Bibingka (Rice Cake)
For the pan
- 2 large squares banana leaf
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
For the rice cake
- butter as much as you like
- niyog (grated mature coconut) as much as you like
Prepare the pan
- Preheat the oven (bottom heat only) to 350F.
- Pass the banana leaf squares over fire to wilt.
- Press the banana leaf squares, one piece on top of the other, into a 10-inch cast iron pan. Trim any excess with kitchen shears but make sure to leave an overhang to make it easy to lift the bibingka from the pan after cooking.
- Brush the top layer of banana leaf with coconut oil.
Make the batter
- Measure the rice flours into a bowl.
- Add the salt and sugar to the rice flours and whisk to combine.
- Make a well at the center and crack the eggs into the well. Whisk the eggs lightly.
- Pour in the coconut milk and melted butter.
- Mix the contents of the bowl until you get a smooth batter. Double check to make sure there are no lumps.
- Pour the batter into the banana-leaf lined pan.
- Bake the bibingka (remember, low heat only) for 15 minutes.
- Take the bibingka out of the oven (yes, it will still be wet) and spread half of the salted egg and kesong puti slices on top.
- Put the bibingka back into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. During this stage, the salted egg and kesong puti slices will SINK to the middle (not the bottom) of the bibingka.
- Take the bibingka out of the oven again and spread the remaining salted egg and kesong puti slices on top.
- Turn on the top heat of the oven (you should have both top and bottom heat on at this stage) and put the bibingka back inside. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a skewer inserted at the center comes out clean.
- Transfer the bibingka to a serving plate and spread butter over the entire top.
- Slice the bibingka and serve with grated coconut on the side.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.