Christmas or Pasko as it is known in the Philippines marks the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Although Christmas Day lands on December 25th, the celebrations by Filipinos begin several weeks earlier. Filipinos will give each other a hearty “Maligayang Pasko” or Merry Christmas.
Pasko itself officially starts on the morning of December 16th and is marked with the ringing of bells, fireworks, and singing of Christmas carols. People begin worship services at four o’clock in the morning in a mass called “Misa de Gallo” or Mass of the Rooster since it occurs right before dawn when the roosters crow. After mass, families may visit the many food stalls in the area for treats like bibingka, a rice-flour pancake cooked on a banana leaf.
Bibingka – Coconut and Rice Cake
2 cups | 400 g of jasmine rice
2 cups | 500 ml water
13 ½ fl oz | 400 ml of coconut milk
2 oz | 60 g of unsalted butter
4 medium eggs
¾ cup | 165 g of superfine sugar
1 tbsp of baking powder
freshly grated coconut for garnish
- Make the galapong “rice dough” by placing the jasmine rice in a large bowl and covering it with 2 cups | 500 ml of water setting it aside to soak for 12 hours.
- Drain the rice, reserving the soaking liquid.
- Take one-third of the rice and add ¼ cup | 2 fl oz of the reserved liquid into a food processor.
- Process for 1 – 2 minutes, scraping down the sides every 30 seconds until the rice is finely ground and resembles a thick slurry.
- Transfer the slurry to a new bowl and repeat the process again two more times.
- Once complete there should be 1 ½ cups of galapong which should then be covered with plastic cling wrap and set aside to soften for 12 and up to 24 hours. (If it is very warm, refrigerate to prevent over fermentation of the mixture.)
- Make the bibingka by adding the coconut milk and melted butter to the galapong stirring until well combined.
- Beat the eggs and superfine sugar together using an electric mixer, then add the galapong and baking powder beating it until fully incorporated.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F | 180° C.
- Lightly grease two 9 ½ inch | 24 cm round pie dishes lined with baking paper cut to 1 ¼ inches | 3 cm larger than the pie dish.
- Divide the galapong mixture evenly between the two pie plates.
- Bake the bibingkas for 30 minutes rotating it halfway through the baking process to ensure evenness. (The tops of the bibingkas should spring back when done.)
- Remove the bibingkas from the oven and allow them to cool off for 5 minutes.
- Preheat the oven broiler to medium-high heat.
- Spread butter and sprinkle superfine sugar over each bibingka.
- Broil the tops for 2 minutes or until the sugar begins caramelization.
- Allow the bibingka to cool slightly then sprinkle coconut on top before serving.