April 14, 2010

Crazy for Coconut Cake: Bibingka Royale


I'm lucky to have married into a family who loves food. I knew I was in the right place when my in-laws first offered me a snack. They invited me to take my pick -- only I wasn't looking through a drawer, but a WALL of cabinets stuffed with goodies.

So it was only normal that after a recent trip to L.A., my mother-in-law was at our doorstep with treats soon after their plane landed. There was cherimoya (If you haven't tasted this yet, you must drop everything now and find out how to get your mitts on this divinely delicious fruit. It tastes like mango and pineapple and has the consistency of creme brulee. But then come on back, ya hear?) and Filipino food: empanada, embutido, and the star of this tale -- bibingka.


Up till now I haven't been crazy about bibingka. But this one was different; the dainty coconut mini cake was gussied up in banana leaf, which gave it a faint tealike flavor. Great design and flavor -- wins me over every time. Plus it was fluffy and cheesy. After polishing off the last one, it haunted me. So I decided to recreate it.

A quick search led me to various versions, including one that's chewy and made from rice flour, but I settled on this recipe I found at food52.

Bibingka Royale Recipe
Makes 18 servings

Frozen banana leaves, cut into circles the size of a CD
Melted butter or cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons sea salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup coconut milk, divided and room temperature
¾ cups sugar
¼ cups coconut oil or butter, melted
4 ounces Edam or Gouda, shredded
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter, melted (optional)

1. Spray muffin pans or brush them with butter.

2. Cut banana leaves into disks, and use them to line muffin pans.



I used an X-Acto knife and a clean CD to cut up banana the leaves. Apparently there are people who are lucky to have a fresh supply of banana leaves in their yard, but in Gotham that's not an option. You can find them in the frozen section of an Asian or Hispanic grocery. Here's a helpful overview on how to work with banana leaves.

3. Sift flours, baking powder and salt.

4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs.

5. In another bowl, whisk 1/2 cup coconut milk, sugar and butter until sugar dissolves.

6. Fold in eggs.

7. Alternately mix in dry ingredients and remaining coconut milk.

8. Fill muffin pans with batter. (I used a large cookie scoop to evenly distribute.)



9. Top with cheese.



10. Bake in 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Test the center with a clean toothpick; it's done when it comes out clean.



If you'd like the tops to be more golden, you can brush butter and broil for 2 minutes.

And how did the family like it? My father-in-law is asking when the next batch
is going to be ready.

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