Coconut and rice cakes

Coconut and rice cakes


7000 Islands
2 large or 12 small
Jana Liebenstein

On our last day on a recent trip to the Philippines, my mother made a parting merienda request: bibingka. It was many years since she'd had one of her childhood favourites. It was just as she remembered: warm, springy, coconutty and totally moreish. In the Philippines, bibingka is baked over coals in a caldero (terracotta pot) lined with banana leaves, which diffuses heat and adds a subtle flavour. This version, using galapong (rice dough) holds true to the original, but is cooked in a dish in the oven. Make sure to use fragrant jasmine rice, which grinds up well. You do have to start a few days ahead, but each task is not time consuming.


Quantity Ingredient
400g jasmine rice
1 banana leaf, softened, (optional)
400ml coconut milk
60g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra, softened, for spreading
4 eggs
165g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
freshly grated mature coconut or shredded coconut, to serve


  1. To make galapong (rice dough), place the rice in a large bowl and cover with 500 ml water. Set aside to soak for 12 hours.
  2. Drain the rice, reserving the soaking liquid. Place one-third of the rice and 60 ml of the reserved liquid in a food processor. Process for 1–2 minutes, scraping down the sides every 30 seconds, or until the rice is finely ground — there will be very small grains and the mixture will resemble a thick slurry. Transfer to a bowl and repeat another two timew with the remaining rice and reserved liquid. Discard any remaining liquid. You should have about 11⁄2 cups galapong. Cover with plastic wrap and stand for 12–24 hours to soften (refrigerate if it is very hot to prevent over-fermentation). Preheat the oven
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease twelve 170 ml ramekins or two 24 cm round pie dishes. If using the banana leaf, cut rounds from the leaf that are 1 cm larger than the bases of the ramekins, or 3 cm larger than the pie dishes. Line the base of each ramekin or dish with the banana leaf. Alternatively, use baking paper.
  4. To make the bibingka, add the coconut milk and melted butter to the galapong and stir until well combined. Use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and sugar, then add the galapong mixture with the baking powder and beat until combined. Divide the mixture among the ramekins or dishes. Bake for 25 minutes for small bibingka or 30 minutes for large bibingka, swapping halfway, until the tops spring back when gently touched. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat a grill to medium–high. Generously a little spread extra butter, then extra sugar over each bibingka. Grill for 2 minutes, or until the sugar is starting to caramelise. Cool slightly, then remove from the ramekins or dishes. Scatter over the coconut to serve.

What is it?

  • A number of bibingka exist, including bibingka malagkit (made with sticky rice), cassava bibingka (made with cassava flour) and bibingka especial (loaded with toppings). This version, bibingka galapong, takes its name from the rice flour or ‘dough’ used. Galapong is made by finely grinding rice in a stone mill, then allowing it to ferment slightly, giving traditional versions a slightly sour taste. Today, refined rice flour is used as a short cut, but the results are not the same.
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