Living in the United States, we don’t always have easy access to Filipino food. I guess it depends on where in the U.S. you live. Unfortunately, where I live, if you want Filipino food, you need to make it yourself. There have been times when I’ve really been craving some native food from back home. This recipe was born from one of those cravings.
Filipino bibingka galapong is a native cake made of rice flour that’s cooked in a clay pot lined with banana leaves. As strange as it sounds, the sweet little cakes are dotted with pieces of quesong puti (carabao milk cheese) and wedges of itlog na maalat (salted duck eggs). Growing up, the best bibingkahan to get hot, fresh-made bibingka was a place called Ferino’s. It was started in 1938 by a man and his wife who made their bibingkas on three clay pots set on a bench. From there, the business grew till they eventually had shops all over town.
Anyway, I was craving the taste of Ferino’s bibingka one day. Since I don’t have a clay pot or banana leaves, and since we can’t get quesong puti or itlog na maalat where we live, I came up with this recipe which I called “Americanized Bibingka” because I baked it in a pyrex glass baking dish in the oven, and I substituted American ingredients for the native Filipino ingredients I couldn’t get – cream cheese for the quesong puti and dried shredded coconut for the itlog na maalat. It’s not Ferino’s, but it’s a really good substitute.
This recipe makes a big pyrex dish so it’s perfect for parties or get-togethers. Don’t expect it to look anything like traditional native Filipino bibingka galapong. Just follow the recipe and you’ll get a good taste of what bibingka is like, albeit without the look. Everybody loves it, including all our American friends.
AMERICANIZED BIBINGKA GALAPONG
- 4 cups self-rising flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup butter
- 1 box (8-oz.) cream cheese
- ½ to 1 cup shredded, sweetened, desiccated coconut
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, eggs, sugar and water.
- Pour batter into a greased 9” x 13” pyrex glass baking dish.
- In a small saucepan, melt and stir together the butter and cream cheese. The cream cheese mixture will be separated and lumpy. It looks weird, but don’t worry. This is normal.
- Pour cream cheese mixture as evenly as you can over the cake batter. Don’t worry about trying to make it perfectly even. You can’t.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove cake from oven and top with shredded coconut (as much as you want).
- Return cake to the oven and broil till the coconut flakes turn golden brown.
NOTE: If you can’t get self-rising flour, you can make your own by mixing together:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. double acting baking powder
2 tsp. salt