In the Philippines, “-ber” months are dedicated to preparing for the most wonderful time of the year–Christmas! As soon as September hits, radio stations start blasting festive songs from Jose Mari Chan, the “Father of Philippine Christmas Music.” Street vendors display different shapes and sizes of parols (star lanterns) along the road. Families even start assembling their Christmas trees and decors. These are only a few things that show how important this season is to Filipinos!
Of course, this time of the year will not be complete without the thing that defines family reunions and celebrations the most—food! From lechon to fruit salad, dinner tables overflow with dishes, desserts, and drinks. One of these Christmas treats that a sweet tooth like me always look forward to is bibingka.
Bibingka is a Philippine native rice cake. It is often sold outside churches for church-goers who participate in the nine day-novena known as Simbang Gabi (night masses). Traditionally, they are prepared using clay pots that are lined with banana leaves. This method is very tedious as it requires the use of coals. But thanks to the invention of ovens and stainless steel baking pans, you can make Bibingka from the comfort of your own home.
The Bibingka cups I made slightly deviate from the norm. I thought of remaking the Bibingka recipe such that it can accommodate diets that restrict high carbs, gluten, and dairy. To achieve this, I did not use rice or dairy in the mixture. Instead, I used cassava flour and a dairy substitute, coconut milk.
Rice might be the essence of the bibingka but there are other alternatives we can use for it to retain its spongy texture. Other types of flour can be used such as cassava flour. Fun fact: one variant of Bibingka is made out of cassava, although it is commonly deemed as Cassava cake! I thought of using cassava flour for this recipe, but in order to achieve the coconut taste of Bibingka, I went for the mixture of coconut flour and almond flour.
Some of you might be wondering why I didn’t stick to one type of flour. Through experience of baking paleo or gluten-free recipes, mixing flours is the best way to get that fluffy consistency. And voila! These came out fluffy and very flavorful, despite the various ingredient substitutions. Since I’m not extremely lactose intolerant, I topped my cups with melted kesong puti (white cheese). I added some coconut sugar and coconut shreds, too— just the way Bibingka is supposed to be enjoyed!
Apr 26, 2018
I am an NYC based content creator, filmmaker, gluten-free foodie, and mental health advocate.