Christmas in the Philippines is a journey. Christmas doesn’t only mean braving the packed malls and holiday traffic jam to shop for presents for oneself and the family. The Philippines being the only Catholic country in Asia, (it is so, because it has the highest population of Catholics in the region) Christmas also means attending “Simbang Gabi” or the 9 (it’s a novena — a form of prayer) dawn masses every religious and practicing Catholic tries to complete with the 9th mass ending on Christmas eve. They said that at the end of the novena you can make a wish. And the wish will be granted.

Christmas also means a feast. And everybody knows that Filipinos love to eat! So after mass, outside the church will be lined by vendors and on their make shift stalls (tables) will be bibingka and putobumbong. Admittedly as a child, these were the best part of going to church. I loved bibingka and putobumbong. Although nowadays you can buy these all year round, back home.

This year is the 4th year I’m celebrating Christmas away from my family since 2008. Sadly, the only dawn mass celebrated in my side of the world is the midnight Christmas eve mass. Traditionally, after Christmas eve mass our family gathers for Noche Buena (Christmas Eve late dinner). This year I was invited, along with several colleagues at work — most of us away from our families, for a night of karaoke and feasting by another colleague and former house mates (one of them also celebrating her birthday!) — another “kababayan”. So I decided to make Bibingka cupcakes, they have always cooked the meals and I always preferred to bake anyway!

Cake Ingredients

  • 1½ cups rice flour (I used Bob’s Unsweetened Rice Flour — 680g made 3 batches)
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs, beat until thick and light yellow
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • banana leaves, optional (I opted a less fussy way so I used regular cupcake paper.)

Coconut Topping

  • ¼ cup cold butter
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. desiccated coconut


  • Kesong puti, sliced (I used Laughing Cow’s Light Cheese, 25% less fat!!!)
  • Salted duck egg, cut in half and sliced (Available in your local Asian store, If I can get this in my side of world I’m sure you can too!)

{I was able to get fresh coconut at the store, but when I tried it on my first batch — my test batch, it tasted like it was ready to become coconut oil. So for the next two batches I thought about doing either candied coconut or a crumbly coconut topping. I opted for the latter. If you can get good fresh coconut then go for the traditional way.}

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line cupcake pan with banana leaves or cupcake papers.

In a separate bowl, mix topping ingredients with a fork until crumbly. Set aside and keep cold.

In a medium bowl, mix all the rice cake ingredients until well incorporated. Batter should be slightly loose, like a pancake batter; add more coconut milk to adjust consistency. Pour batter into pan ¾ of the way, arrange a slice of white cheese and a slice of salted egg on top. Sprinkle coconut topping on top.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until top is golden brown. You can opt to broil to get the sort of charred top.

The spread and company!!!

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