Bibingka

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough many would think of bibingka as a mostly Philippine Christmas food sold outside of churches during Christmas season, there are also sold in stalls and stores that sell these treats all year round. Best served and eaten hot off the coals, its soft, fluffy consistency and an amazing diversity of flavor from the dough itself and toppings make bibingka probably the most well-known Filipino snack. Bibingka is made with rice flour and coconut milk or water. Other ingredients can vary greatly, but the most common secondary ingredients are eggs and milk. The traditional preparation is very time-consuming. A specially made terra cotta container is lined with a single large section of a banana leaf. It is placed over preheated coals and the rice flour and water mixture is poured into it, taking care not to spill it into the container itself. Another piece of banana leaf is added to the top and covered with more preheated coals. Commercial bibingka in banana leaf liner showing the distinctive notched edges

The end result is a soft and spongy large flat cake that is slightly charred on both surfaces and infused with the unique aroma of toasted banana leaves. Toppings are then added, usually consisting of butter/margarine, sugar, cheese, or grated coconut. Other more uncommon toppings include pinipig (pounded immature rice grains), pineapple, and salted duck eggs. A mixture of two or more of these toppings on a single bibingka is also common. Bibingka with sumptuous amounts of toppings (and ingredients) are sometimes called Bibingka Especial.

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