I remember the times when my Mother would occasionally take me to church after school, back when I was a little girl. Around Christmas season, there would be these stalls on the churchyard selling the lovely yellow bibingka and the purple puto bumbong, these Filipino pastries that were baked using traditional bamboo and ceramic cooking tools, and banana leaves. I used to think that this was the only right way for these Christmas staples to be made. They were the very measure of authenticity for bibingkas and puto bumbongs.
These days however, we’ve got a slew of commercialised bibingka stalls in the malls, plus instant box-mixes I’ve always been hesitant to try. It still feels weird to me to see these things in the mall because none of it feels right to me. I guess there are moments when I can be a bit old-fashioned.
I remember I used to urge my Mother to buy me these treats, and I’d enjoy them both with a sprinkling of coconut flakes, but the bibingka has always been my favourite between the two. I’d watch the pastries being prepared by quick and sure hands, and I remember always thinking that it must be quite amazing to know how to make such things. Filipinos hold traditions valuable, and typically these traditions involve a mixture of food and family.
Around Christmastime, the bibingkas and puto bumbongs make an appearance around the table, around the laughter of family members getting together for the holidays. I suppose it’s this idea that strengthened my resolve to want to learn how to make these pastries, except the bibingka was a bit more feasible since all I needed were rice flour and some banana leaves. I didn’t have any of the bamboo tubes for making puto bumbong.
Alas, my first attempt was an unsuccessful one.
I’m pretty sure the failure is my fault. For one thing, I had failed to factor in the fact that I had made the bibingkas into smaller-sized ones than the original recipe called for, which means I should’ve shortened the baking time. Problem is I got too excited over the fact that I was making bibingka in my kitchen and completely lost my rationality for a bit. That’s why the bibingkas I made came out hard and overbaked, as opposed to the soft and delicious cakelets they were supposed to be. Needless to say I was crestfallen at my own lack of foresight, but you live and you learn.
All that said, I am definitely going to attempt this recipe again and guard the oven like a hound! You can be sure I will write about it again once I successfully recreate this. If you’re interested in trying this out, you can check out the recipe here.
Better luck next year, I suppose!