This is not the first time I made bibingka… truth is, I’ve been experimenting on and off for years. The first relatively successful one did not look all that nice but it was ok. This latest experiment is the most successful one, I think (a slightly different recipe from before).
Bibingka is a local “cake” made from rice flour. I’ve seen many recipes for bibingka without using rice flour and to me this is plain cheating! It is not bibingka if it is not made from rice flour! Now, there are many kinds of bibingka – the fluffy kind (which is the kind this one is), a heavier pudding-like concoction, another kind made from cassava… it seems that there are as many kinds of bibingka as there are provinces or regions in the country!!!
The other “secret” to bibingka is the banana leaf lining. For some reason, it does not quite taste like bibingka unless its bottom is covered in banana leaf!
There are special bibingka “ovens” where several can be cooked, in a “tower” with “drawers” where the bibingka pan is placed. It is difficult to describe but it is the best I can do. Google has many images of bibingka ovens for those who want to get a visual picture.
My version of bibingka is the one that I personally like. I don’t know if it is any one of the variants of any region but what I can say with honesty is that the inspiration for it is the bibingka from Via Mare Cafe. I “upgraded” my version by including real coconut flakes in the batter. The recipe also has cake flour because I found that the bibingka has a softer bounce to it with cake flour in the mix.
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
tender/moist coconut flakes, about 1/2 cup
sliced kesong puti (local white cheese made from carabao milk)
1 salted egg, coarsely chopped
butter or margarine to serve (margarine is preferred locally)
grated coconut to serve
Preheat oven to 435 to 450F. Prepare a 2 7-inch bibingka pans by buttering the pan, fitting a banana leaf on the bottom of the pan and buttering the banana leaf. In my case, I used 1 bibingka pan and 6 large muffin tins to make mini-bibingka.
Note – my bibingka is baked in my convection oven, with the fan on, because I will not buy a bibingka oven!!!
Stir together dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Fold in coconut flakes (or actual coconut strips but make sure that actual coconut strips have been patted dry).
Pour into the prepared pans, top with kesong puti slices and chopped salted egg pieces.
Bake 20-25 minutes for the big pan and about 15 minutes for the muffin tins.
Brush with melted butter straight from the oven.
Serve piping hot with more butter and grated coconut on the side.