Americanized Bibingka

Americanized Bibingka | Pinky's Pantry
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
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, eggs, sugar and water.
  3. Pour batter into a greased 9” x 13” pyrex glass baking dish.
  4. 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.
    Americanized Bibingka | Pinky's Pantry
  5. 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.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove cake from oven and top with shredded coconut (as much as you want).
  8. 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

Bisquick Puto (Copycat Filipino Steamed Rice Cakes)

Puto | Pinky's Pantry

Nothing triggers more memories of past Christmases for me than the sight of a dish piled high with puto. When I was a little girl, I used to walk to church with my Yaya (Nanny) at 5:00 every morning to attend the Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster), so called because they’re held at dawn when the rooster crows. The Misa de Gallo is a 9-day Catholic novena mass which starts on the 16th of December and runs through the 24th. After mass, you went outside the church to find various stalls with vendors selling all kinds of native Filipino foods that you could buy for breakfast and which you either ate there while chatting with your neighbors or brought home to share with your family. Puto was one of the delicacies always being sold.

The little steamed rice cakes were traditionally made with rice flour, but nowadays it seems as though more and more people are using regular all-purpose flour to make them. Whatever kind of flour you use, the little cakes have one thing in common — they are steamed, not baked. Before rice flour became so readily available in our local grocery stores, I learned to make this “cheating” recipe which uses Bisquick baking mix. Now that rice flour is so easily obtained, I still find myself reaching for the box of Bisquick! It may not be quite traditional in flavor, but it makes a delicious puto and is wonderfully easy to whip together.

BIQUICK PUTO

  • 2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
  • fresh grated coconut (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl, stir all the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Fill a large wok with about an inch of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Once water is boiling, lower heat to maintain a steady simmer.
  4. Fill mini-muffin pan about 2/3 full with batter.
  5. Place muffin pan into wok so the 4 corners touch the sides of the wok and the bottom of the muffin pan is floating above but not touching the water.
  6. Cover with lid and steam for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Lift lid off, taking care that water condensed inside lid does not run down onto the puto.
  8. Using tongs, carefully lift muffin pan out of wok and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing puto from pan.
  9. Serve with grated coconut, if desired.