Bibingka, a Philippine rice cake, baked with slices of native white cheese and salted duck eggs is an all-time Filipino favorite merienda (snack) specially the ones from Ferino's and Via Mare restaurants. I remember them so soft, fluffy, and buttery and topped with more butter, a sprinkling of sugar, and freshly grated coconut. These 8-inch cakes are baked on top of small clay ovens filled with live coals and the top of the clay oven is covered with an iron sheet filled with more live coals. It takes just a few minutes to bake them. The cakes can be baked in regular ovens but I find the toaster oven on a very high heat does an excellent job similar to the clay ovens.
A package of store-bought bibingka mix has been waiting for a few weeks now for my attention. I have always made bibingka from scratch with rice flour but sometimes I get lazy and want to have them right away. The thing is, there's really not much difference with the flavor and the amount of time I spent mixing because the packaged bibingka has only baking powder and salt added to the rice flour and maybe preservatives or anti-caking agents and nothing else. I baked half of the mix in muffin cups and the rest in small molds, all lined with cut banana leaves. I didn't have salted duck eggs and topped the muffins with small pieces of kesong puti (farmer's white cheese) which you can substitute with Indian paneer or well-drained and salted cottage cheese. You can also use mild white cheddar cheese or better yet, make some kesong puti. Heck, you can even top the bibingka with chocolate chips, Nutella, or salted caramel and they will still be soft and fluffy and will taste heavenly.
banana leaves, optional
1½ cups rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
¾ cup powdered sugar
4 eggs, beaten until thick and lemon-colored
1½ cups coconut milk
6 tablespoons melted butter
kesong puti (farmer's white cheese), sliced into 1 inch x ¼-inch thick pieces
grated or scraped fresh coconut
butter and sugar, optional
- Preheat toaster oven to 425°F.
- Line muffin cups with banana leaves. In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients, except cheese, grated coconut, and optional butter and sugar, until well incorporated. Batter should be runny; add more milk to adjust consistency. Fill the cups half-full. Top with 2 pieces of cheese and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
- Spread some butter and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Top with grated coconut.
soft, fluffy, and buttery