From all over the Philippines, there are versions of ‘bibingka’ (rice cake) – e.g. in Manila, for instance, when the rice cake is prepared in front of churches for the ‘misa de gallo’ (the evening masses just before Christmas), the ‘bibingka‘ is topped with either ‘itlog na maalat’ (salted egg) or ‘keso‘ (cheese); while in Midsayap in North Cotabato, a common addition is ‘sukang tuba’ (coconut vinegar) that adds sourness to the rice cake.
For those interested to cook ‘bibingka’, the basics are – of course – somewhat… uniform, i.e.:
3 Cups rice flour
1 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Cup brown sugar
3 Cups fresh coconut milk
1 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon salt
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Set aside.
- Put eggs in a separate bowl; add vanilla extract and coconut milk. Whisk.
- Pour the flour mixture over the coconut milk mixture. Fold with a whisk until smooth and free of lumps.
- Pour batter into baking mold or pan lined with banana leaf.
It is in the last stage – i.e. baking – where (one of the notable) variations occur.
For one, the baking can be done in a pre-heated oven (at 400°F for 30 minutes). But the baking may also be done the traditional way – i.e. by pouring the mixture in a clay pot lined with banana leaf, and then placing this in a clay oven. The clay pot is sandwiched by ‘uling’ (charcoal) that will have to be… controlled to evenly cook the mixture.
A toothpick (or a matchstick) is inserted in the center of the mixture to see if the ‘bibingka’ is cooked (i.e. when it’s dry already).
The Digos City version is somewhat… bland; ideal when eaten warm, and when consumed with coffee or softdrinks. There are local brands that made names, e.g. Mers, but try grabbing some from the vendors at the bus terminal/s (again, so long as they’re freshly baked).
This city south of Davao City may not yet be in everyone’s radar; but when passing through or dropping by, the local ‘bibingka’ is something worth grabbing indeed…