Kakanin is the Filipino term for sweet rice-based treats. One of the most popular kakanin in the Philippines is bibingka, which is a coconut rice cake, usually served during the holidays. Traditionally, bibingka is cooked in banana leaves in a clay pot over charcoal. This method gives a very unique smoky flavor that is typically characteristic of bibingka. Living in the U.S., banana leaves are not always accessible. On top of that, cooking with clay pots and charcoal isn’t always the most convenient. So I thought I’d make a version of it that will be easier to make if you’re living abroad and/or not close to Filipino markets.
What makes my recipe unique
To make bibingka, I use a combination of rice flour, glutinous rice flour, and all-purpose flour. Rice flour is not the same as glutinous rice flour (or sweet rice flour). While rice flour is closer to regular flour and would result in a cake-like, crumbly texture, glutinous rice flour yields more chewy and sticky texture. There are regions in the Philippines that just use all rice flour, and some that just use glutinous rice flours. In my recipe testing, I find that I prefer combining flours to have the best of both textures. Filipinos also usually add grated Eden cheese to it, but that’s not easily accessible where I am, so I used mild white cheddar instead.
You can also make this recipe either as little muffins or a whole round cake. Even though my pictures were for the muffin version, I actually prefer the round cake version. The great thing is, the temperature and timing of the bake is the same for both! If you opt for muffins, this yields about 9 bibingka muffins. If you opt for the round cake, use a 9-inch or 9.5-inch deep pie dish for best results.
What toppings to use
Traditionally, Filipinos use latik as a topping. Latik is basically like a coconut curd — it’s what results from cooking down coconut cream until is golden brown and caramelized. Latik is delicious and can be used as a topping for a lot of different desserts.
It also may be weird for non-Filipinos, but we sometimes add sliced salted egg with grated cheese on top of bibingka. There’s something about that sweet and salt combo that just works. For this recipe, I just used leftover grated cheese and mixed it with unsweetened desiccated (or grated) coconut.
Tools you’ll need
- 3/4 cup regular rice flour
- 1/4 cup glutinous rice flour (aka sweet rice flour)
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2/3 cups grated cheese* (and a bit extra for toppings, if you'd like)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened grated or desiccated coconut (optional for toppings)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, whisk the rice flour, glutinous rice flour, baking powder, salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, and melted butter until homogenous. Then, add the coconut milk and evaporated milk and mix.
- Carefully, sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Then, fold in the grated cheese.
- Pour the bibingka batter into either greased muffin pans (enough to yield 9 pieces) or a greased 9-inch (or 9.5-inch) deep pie dish. Sprinkle the leftover grated cheese and desiccated coconut on top. Then, bake for 20-25 minutes on the top rack of the oven. It's totally okay for the top to really brown -- that's kinda what you want.
- Let it cool for about 15-30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
*Traditionally made with Eden cheese, but that's not easily accessible where I am, so I used mild white cheddar instead
Looking for more Filipino recipes? Browse here!
// ON THE SCENE
- Bottom backdrop: Replica Surfaces — Natural Walnut