At the break of dawn, numerous Filipinos wake up and brave the early-morning December chill to attend simbang gabi: a practice, entailing going to mass as early as 4 or 5 in the morning, followed by eating piping-hot puto bumbong or bibingka sold right outside the church gates.

As the nine days of simbang gabi come to a final conclusion, leading toward Christmas eve, we say celebrate with a bang—that is, with a scaled-up version of our favorite Christmas rice cake that’s huge enough to share with family and friends.

You’ll be needing to use bowls a bit bigger than the usual to hold the higher amount of ingredients, and there’s a bit of manual work in cracking open 15 eggs. But making the batter is simple, taking after the method often employed for quickbreads where you mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately, then stir the wet mixture into the dry being careful not to overmix. While the banana leaf-lined claypotstraditionally used for cooking bibingka might be hard to procure for the home kitchen—more so one that’s big enough to make the giant version we’re after here—you can get similar results with a big pan (we used a paellera), your trusty oven, and a blowtorch. Our recipe is not an exact replica of traditional bibingkang galapong, which gets its signature chewiness from scratch-made galapong and its smoky aroma as the banana leaves char in the more direct, rustic heat of the clay oven, but it does preserve the telltale sweet-and-salty, coconut-y essence of bibingka we know and love. It’s big enough to feed everyone across the extended Filipino family—sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, uncles, aunts, ninongs, ninangs, second cousins, third cousins, even your karaoke-howling neighbors and their equally-rowdy pet labrador retrievers—as you place this monstrosity at the center of the holiday table.


Giant Bibingka

Time: 2 hours
Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 cups rice flour
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 6 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 6 tbsp + 2 tbsp butter, melted 
  • 15 eggs
  • 1 cup quezo de bola, grated

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine rice flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine coconut milk, 6 tbsp butter, and eggs. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, taking care not to overmix.
  5. Pour bibingka batter into a large pan (we used a paellera) lined with softened banana leaves.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The bibingka
    should have a slight jiggle but be completely set around the edges.
  7. Remove from oven and top with remaining butter and grated quezo de bola. Place under a broiler for 5 minutes or heat with a torch, until cheese is slightly melted and the top of the bibingka has nice charred parts.
  8. Serve.


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