Why It’s Worth Learning How To Make Bibingka According To Chef Heny Sison
An essential part of our Christmas memories, classic bibingka is worth enjoying at every excuse, and yes, for those up to the challenge, even mastering at home
With the ‘ber months upon us, you may start catching that enticing whiff of freshly cooked bibingka sold in makeshift stands outside churches or on the sidewalks, especially as the Christmas season approaches.
Slathered with butter or margarine, topped with grated coconut, cheese, salted egg, this traditional rice cake’s secret lies in its use of 100% rice dough or galapong to give it that distinctive fluffy yet cake-like density—no wheat flour allowed. But how many people actually know how to make bibingka?
Chef Heny Sison of the Heny Sison Culinary School, Heny Sison’s Desserterie, and Victorino’s, has made it her mission to learn traditional heritage recipes—like bibingka and other kakanin or rice-based sweets—and teach them to her students, many of whom are hungry to learn the old methods that perhaps their lolas knew, but which have since lost their luster in these instant ramen times.
As Chef Heny sees it, there is value in knowing how to do things the old way, then, if needed, adapt them to modern times—with better equipment and ingredients, and yes, even a few shortcuts—but without losing sight of what makes the age-old version worth following and respecting. That’s what Chef Heny does with her version of classic bibingka, injecting her own little innovations like adding cooked (not just uncooked) rice which imparts volume to the cake.
Making bibingka at home may require a bit of a commitment—like having a rice grinder to make galapong or using a charcoal stove or one of those nifty multi-tiered electric bibingka makers. But you can find galapong at the wet market. You can make do with baking your bibingka in an oven or turbo broiler. (But if you’re still after that smoky charcoal flavor, you can usually find a bibingka charcoal stove in the dry section of most public markets.)
For those willing to take on the challenge of making bibingka at home, trust us, you’ll be richly rewarded—as there’s nothing as truly soul-stirring as taking a buttery bite of hot-off-the-stove bibingka.
By Heny Sison
Makes about 6 cakes
1 kilo uncooked rice laon (old rice), soaked in water for 3 to 5 hours
1 cup cooked rice
1 can evaporated milk
3 cups + 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup baking powder
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup potato starch
3 salted eggs. sliced
kesong puti, sliced
cooked ham, optional
1/2 cup butter
1 piece grated coconut
1. Soak uncooked rice laon overnight. Soak just enough to cover with water.
2. Grind the rice together with water and the cooked rice.
3. Mix remaining ingredients and rest for 1 hour. Strain into a bowl.
4. Cut banana leaves into 7-inch circles. Line bibingka molds with the banana leaves.
5. When ready to cook, brush banana leaves with butter and pour in the mixture.
6. Make sure the charcoal is ready. Cook bibingka with lighted charcoal underneath and on top, about 15 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking, arrange salted egg, kesong puti, and cooked ham, if using, on top. Then continue cooking until golden in color.
7. When fully cooked, remove bibingka from the mold. Brush with butter, and top with muscovado sugar and grated coconut.
Heny Sison Desserterie, Victorino’s, 11th Jamboree corner Scout Rallos Street, Diliman, Quezon City
Heny Sison Culinary School, 33 Bonny Serrano Avenue, Quezon City, henysison.com
Heny Sison assisted by Janet Escuro