08 Mar2010

Pili Nut Cake a la Mom

by Marketman


I came home to an aroma that instantly made me head to the kitchen and check out what was baking. Sister was baking a couple of pili nut cakes which revived childhood memories. When we were children our mother often made this easy cake for dessert. Last week we received a large bag of freshly shelled pili nuts so we made this cake for a family gathering. For those who cannot get pili sliced or slivered blanched almonds are a good substitute. So this is really Sister’s recipe, but it turned out exactly like the one mom used to make…


Pili Cake:

Preheat oven to 300 F and grease and flour 10×2″ round pans.

1 lb. unsalted butter softened
3 c. sugar
7 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk

4 c. blanched pili nuts or sliced or slivered almonds
2/3 c. sugar


Carefully split each blanched and peeled pili nut so it does not sink into the batter.
Cream butter and sugar together for five minutes until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.
Add vanilla.
Add half of the flour, the baking powder and salt and the milk.
Mix for one minute and add the rest of the flour and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Do not over beat.
Divide between the two pans, level with the back of a spoon.
Sprinkle each cake with half of the nuts and then the sugar for the topping.
Cover lightly with a piece of foil to prevent over browning.
Bake on center rack for 25 min, remove foil to brown topping. Cake will be done in a total of 40-50 minutes.
Cool. Carefully unmold onto cake plates.
Serve with sliced fruit and whipped cream or ice cream.


We served one of these cakes with fresh strawberries and some whipped cream. The second cake was served whipped cream mixed with homemade mango jam. The cakes were just delicious. The distinctive aroma of the pili nuts baked into the cake definitely triggered warm thoughts from decades ago, definitely a blast from the past. The strawberries weren’t necessary, but nice nonetheless. You can also serve with some vanilla ice cream. Yum.



  1. Isa Garchitorena says:


    Mar 8, 2010 | 7:21 am


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  3. linda says:

    I have all the ingredients in my pantry except for the nuts so I’ll try to bake this cake when I get hold of some slivered almonds. Any cake that your sister bakes is a “must bake” as far as I am concerned! Thanks for sharing!

    Mar 8, 2010 | 7:58 am

  4. aly says:


    Mar 8, 2010 | 8:03 am

  5. junb says:

    Looks simple yet delicious ….. Hmmm nothing beats freshly baked cake and the best if it taste what your mom use to baked.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 8:33 am

  6. betty q, says:

    When I was a kid, I remember eating tons of those really tiny muffins or cupcakes that had cashews. I bet using pili nuts would be an excellent sub. From what I remember, my sister put Nestle cream in it. I forgot what it was called. Oh, there was meringue folded into it.

    Ohhh,MM. …how about dousing the cake with simple syrup after baking flavoured with Frangelico or flavour your whipped cream with Bailey’s or Chocolate Macadamia liquer…on second thought, never mind…mapapadami pa ang kain!

    Mar 8, 2010 | 8:48 am

  7. joey says:

    Thanks for sharing your mom’s recipe! It looks divine!

    Mar 8, 2010 | 9:21 am

  8. Quillene says:

    MMmmmmmmmmmmm!!! Thank you, Sister! Imagining having this now at work with a nice cup of tea or cold juice on this hot day.

    Thank you for another must-try recipe!

    Mar 8, 2010 | 9:43 am

  9. Gej says:

    I’m very happy to read anything on the pili nut. You, MM, have written the most about this uniquely Pinoy nut.

    While I like the nut very much – I prefer to eat this, my favorite nut, plain – it is the pulp that I could not get enough of. I was very happy to read something written about the pili pulp, from you of course, MM.

    I remember before – whenever a relative would bring pili back from Bicol – how the news would spread in the clan. Same when we had some from Bicol – the fresh nuts would immediately be distributed among relatives near or far in Manila. I could eat the “lantahon “- pulp softened by likewarm water- everyday even for weeks, without getting tired of it. We usually had it with a sawsawan of “kuyug” – dilis like fish made into anchovies, kalamansi and lots of red or white onions. The flavor resembles olives, somewhat, but better, to me. Eating lantahon makes one eat so much more rice! I’ve tried mixing the pulp with a salad of lettuce , and liked it.

    Lantahon – pili pulp softened with lukewarm water is definitely worth trying.

    I remember too what I went through to extract the nut from the tough shell after a few days of drying. I’d use a hammer and pound the shell pressed against a concrete corner of the garage floor, several times, hoping to get the nut whole . Often though I’d be left with shards of the nut to be content with. Not very hygienic1 To protect my eyes from the bits of shell that would fly off, I eventually started wearing sunglasses. It was only after a few years when I found out that a bolo (machete?) was usually used to crack open the shell with one blow.

    One problem with the pili though, as you MM pointed out, is its perishability- both the pulp and the nut. If left for a few days, the fresh pili would already refuse to soften even when submerged in lukewarm or even hot water for an extended period of time. Those who bring them to Manila from Bicol find that covering the “kaing” (basket) with the leaves of the pili tree helps keep the fruits fresh longer. I learned in time too that the fresh pili would last a few more days if wrapped in newspaper and placed in the ref, even longer if placed in the freezer. Just thaw before submerging in lukewarm water when you want to eat it. I eat the pili nut as soon as I can since, as you MM pointed out, it easily turns rancid.

    Though I heard a lot of pili has been planted in Negros, and though I’ve seen pili trees lined along the Pili Road in UP Los Banos, Bicol has been long known to be suitable for the tree. I don’t know whether the pili is being grown in other countries already.

    I planted one in the farm around two years ago. It was a grafted one, so I look forward to the tree fruiting, hopefully very soon.

    Safe to say, the pili is uniquely Pinoy. I’m glad the plant, and the nut is getting more of the exposure it deserves, thanks to guys like you MM. Thanks to you too, MM and Sister , for sharing more ways of using the pili.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 10:41 am

  10. Teresa says:

    Love the taste of Pili nuts…must try this one..

    Mar 8, 2010 | 11:17 am

  11. Mari says:

    I wish I was right there tasting a slice of it… yummm…. Thanks MM and Sister for sharing the recipe. Anything that tastes like what mom used to make, is definitely awesome! Got to put this recipe in line for spring or summer.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 12:09 pm

  12. Joyce says:

    the last pic looks yummy. thank you for sharing the recipe. in pampanga, i loved eating plain pili nut with sugar and pili rolls, kind of like a sticky cake made of ground pili nuts

    Mar 8, 2010 | 1:20 pm

  13. Crissy says:

    Its such an underrated nut … almonds just can’t compare to the depth of flavor of pili. Yet its not available abroad except in the brittle or marzipan form. When will it be commercially viable to produce, shell, toast and skin the pili nut for the export market! Can’t believe the technology does not yet exist because the demand is certainly there.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 1:56 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    Crissy, I think the problem is a very short shelf life (it goes rancid quickly), and there may not be enough supply as they tend to be backyard kind of trees, not large pili nut plantations with a reliable harvest… But personally, I love them.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 2:00 pm

  15. Divina says:

    Thanks for sharing your mom’s recipes. I hope to find some pili nuts soon.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 8:33 pm

  16. natie says:

    looks delicious!!! bettyq, where those small cupcakes made like the mango tarts?

    Mar 8, 2010 | 10:49 pm

  17. rosemarie says:

    yummy. thanks mm and sis. does sis have an ube cake recipe? i hope to try it this spring.

    Mar 9, 2010 | 4:36 am

  18. betty q. says:

    Natie: all I remember is that the baby muffin liners are sooo pretty and that once you take the liners, the color adheres to the sides of the baby muffin cakes. I think you are referring to boat tarts? Those baby cupcakes are more “cakey” than boat tarts.

    Mar 9, 2010 | 7:09 am

  19. miriam says:

    Pili!!!!!! Love it!!! The cake looks good and no doubt that MM’s mom’s recipe is another winner. By any chance, do you have a tried and tested recipe for marzipan de pili?

    Mar 9, 2010 | 10:18 am

  20. Mom-Friday says:

    wow, I can only imagine how this smells and tastes like! now I miss the mazapan from Samar that we regularly receive as pasalubong years ago.

    Mar 9, 2010 | 10:01 pm

  21. Jen Laceda says:

    I miss Pili Cake! Reminds me of my childhood in Manila. Our pilgrimage to Hizon’s at J. Bocobo…the aroma of freshly baked goodies…ahhh…

    Mar 9, 2010 | 10:23 pm

  22. betty q. says:

    I was googling the Pili Nut and came across one of the uses in HongKong ….Pili being used in one of the moon cakes…

    So, Homebuddy (or is it Toping who makes hopia? ) …my apologies if it is not you, Toping!…if you are still following this thread and you are in Visayas? Pili Nut apprently is also abundant there esp. in Sorsogon? I think you can make a filling close to the moon cake filling using Pili Nut and use it as a filling for your hopia! I bet it would make a huge difference in taste!

    Mar 10, 2010 | 12:31 am

  23. Candygirl says:

    I love Pili!

    Mar 10, 2010 | 12:36 am

  24. betty q. says:

    …sorry for the typos, MM….I probably need to upgrade my glasses!

    Mar 10, 2010 | 3:50 am

  25. thelma says:

    sister, i am sooo excited. i am baking the pili nut bread cake this evening using
    your recipe. i am sure that it’s going to be a yummy cake to be served with whipped cream and blackberry jam. since i don’t have pili nuts, i am using
    instead sliced almonds. thank you sister for sharing this recipe.

    Mar 13, 2010 | 9:42 am

  26. u8mypinkcookies says:

    oh my.. that looks so yummy. i love pili nuts!

    Mar 13, 2010 | 2:44 pm

  27. winter says:

    going to bicol soon and getting myself plenty of fresh pili so i can try this :-) thanks, MM and sister!

    Mar 14, 2010 | 10:55 pm

  28. Merci says:

    When I was in Cebu I was invited for merienda and they served I do not know if it was a cake but it looked like a snake form. I believe it was from grounded pili nut shaped like a snake. If you have this recipe please share it with me. I believe somebody sells it in Cebu.

    Thank you

    Mar 31, 2010 | 1:23 pm

  29. Bogs Goyena says:

    I am also a Bicolano and residing in Daraga Albay Philippines. Presently, I have planted about 342 Pili trees in our farm. They are about 2 years old now. I plan to expand the number of trees within the year till first semester next year and convert the farm as Pili park in the future as available resources come. You are all welcome to a visit. Its best when they start to flower and bear fruit come 4-5 years from now. Its not a long wait now. Meantime, I keep busy trying to learn and cook menus using Pili pulp and kernel. I can extract pulp oil and kernel oil already and using personally the extracted organic virgin Pili kernel oil. I am developing Pili and its by products into full business in the near future.
    My email is cktrail@yahoo.com

    May 1, 2010 | 10:08 pm

  30. Bogs Goyena says:

    I will try your recipe MM. thanks for sharing this to us …

    May 1, 2010 | 10:09 pm

  31. klee says:

    I made this cake two nights ago and it came out perfect! Thank you!
    The only problem I had was that the leftover cake harden up when I took it out from the fridge the next day.
    But the good thing is that when I pop it into the microwave for around 15seconds, it was back to being soft again.
    What shall I add into this recipe to avoid hardening when it is left inside the fridge. Any advice or help will greatly be appreciated. :) please?

    Oct 21, 2010 | 8:43 am

  32. Marketman says:

    klee, it probably hardened due to the relatively high fat content from the butter and the nuts… one solution is to leave it out of the fridge for a day or two, and hopefully you should have consumed it by then. Also, without any preservatives of any kind, it is meant to be enjoyed freshly made. Alternatively, a quick zap in the micro should soften up the fat…

    Oct 22, 2010 | 11:32 am

  33. Klee says:

    Thank you Marketman! by the way, I finally got the chance to make your chicken inasal last night (I have been planning to try this since last year) and it got devoured! It is indeed another great recipe! Thank you. :)

    Oct 23, 2010 | 11:30 am

  34. Bogs Goyena says:

    I am now selling Virgin Pili Nut Kernel Oil and Pili Nut Kernel Oil in 20 and 30 ml bottles. I discovered that Pili Nut Kernel Oil is good in making hair more thicker and showed signs that new hair growth are emerging from areas with diminishing hair.
    Since it is organic and virgin people who have tried it get back at me and say that it is amazing as a moisturizer and whitener for aging, dry, rough skin and it is easily absorbed in the skin within 15 minutes. Their skin became tender and glow in health.
    My mother’s enlarged and prominent varicose veins on her right leg has greatly improved in size and appearance after a few times of inconsistent application and massage.
    Try it and convince yourself.
    I can supply in liters within a week notice.
    My email is cktrail@yahoo.com and CP# +63 922 8705 237

    Oct 27, 2010 | 1:54 am

  35. reXiand_ says:

    masuya ahn! sigurado ko!

    Dec 2, 2010 | 7:08 am


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