20 Feb2008

Tortas from Bohol

by Marketman


One of the incredible advantages of frequent flights by budget carriers such as Cebu Pacific to and from Tagbilaran is that oven fresh tortas such as these can be baked in the early morning and be savored in Manila for merienda that afternoon… Cebuano and Boholano tortas are cakes, not eggy and meaty omelettes. I have written about them before, and even posted this recipe, which is really a more modern version made with lots of butter, and which is bake-able almost anywhere in the world. The traditional tortas are often heavy with lard, denser and incredibly rich with lots of eggyolks. I was once told that tortas in a little town in Southern Cebu were preferably made with lard from the previous year’s fiesta, hence AGED fat for additional flavor. Not too many folks still make these with the traditional recipes as they are practically goading one to keel over with coronary failure, but they are good.


These particular tortas were baked by a friend of a friend, and they are a bit lighter/less dense than I remember tortas from my childhood. I am pretty sure they don’t have much butter in them, but the lard is relatively fresh lard, I suspect. It could even be made with more vegetable oil than lard. They were lighter, more cake-like and with some strands of cheese and a generous sprinkling of sugar on top. I can eat a whole torta in one sitting, but most folks might stick to a slice or two. Traditionally made tortas can last several days without refrigeration and if you do refrigerate it, you may want to warm them in a toaster oven or microwave briefly to dissolve the fat molecules and deceive yourself that you aren’t consuming something so delicious but so incredibly bad for your veins… :)


To order these tortas, please contact: BELEN CIMAFRANCA, Poblacion, Dauis, Bohol: Cel No. 09106341057; 09159144452; PLDT Line: 038 4160019



  1. dee bee says:

    don’t think i’ve ever had this…will try making it using your recipe.

    p.s. yay!! i get to comment first :))

    Feb 20, 2008 | 6:39 pm


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  3. Cumin says:

    I love torta from Cebu — esp when it is baked with anise. A year ago I bought torta from a bakery in Baclaran (Lolo Tinong’s?) which claimed to use Cebu’s recipe. Verdict: a bit too sweet for my taste and not the exact texture, but what a joy to find anise!

    Feb 20, 2008 | 6:48 pm

  4. dee bee says:

    in my excitement, i forgot to ask my question. marketman, when you say that some folks eat a slice or two, while you eat a whole one, how big are these? they look like medium-sized muffins from the pics. i’ve never seen them before and wondering if i should use muffin tins or something bigger. thanks!

    Feb 20, 2008 | 6:57 pm

  5. Marie says:

    It looks taisan to me :) only taisan is more on loaf type when baked . i am kapampangan po kasi and that is the nearest type of bread that i can think of at the moment

    Have a great day!

    Feb 20, 2008 | 7:37 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    Marie, it is definitely different from tai san. dee bee, these are quite large, say 5 inches across, baked in the ensaimada type tins. Cumin, yes, its nice with the anise, though I also like it without it… dee bee, the recipe I featured is the more “city-fied” version, but it is rich and delicious…

    Feb 20, 2008 | 7:57 pm

  7. suzette says:

    gosh i remember eating your tortas, so dense and rich… i’m so craving it now!

    Feb 20, 2008 | 8:18 pm

  8. Mangaranon says:

    MM – a Cebuana friend of mine was telling me about the Aboitiz-Moraza cookbook. How do I get one of these?

    Feb 21, 2008 | 12:59 am

  9. Maria Clara says:

    I never had torta as of yet learned them through your posts. They look like a hybrid ensaimada to me and with the eggs and butter content must be really tasty.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 1:17 am

  10. Katrina says:

    Now you’ve reminded me of your rich, buttery torta, MM! And I just realized — I should’ve looked for torta when I was in Bohol! I completely forgot about it. But then, these are probably mostly baked at home, or for fiestas, right? So I really wouldn’t have seen them in restaurants or bakeries?

    Feb 21, 2008 | 2:36 am

  11. nina says:

    First time I heard of tortas. This is why I like your blog. I learn about different foods that I haven’t encountered before. Thanks for sharing…

    Feb 21, 2008 | 3:19 am

  12. Maria says:

    hi mm, any chance you`ll tell us the contact number in bohol you ordered this delicious torta?

    Feb 21, 2008 | 5:20 am

  13. Mila says:

    I enjoyed a torta recently with black coffee, and hot chocolate. I also had a slice with milk. Couldn’t do more than a slice at a time though.
    Like those who posted above, I remember your tortas from last December, rich and buttery.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 8:02 am

  14. Marketman says:

    Mila, the egg yolk content is wicked as well, hence the heaviness and richness… Maria, these were a gift, so I haven’t seen the source. But I will ask the friend the next time he is around for the number and will post it here. Katrina, this was home baked… will post source when I find out where it is from… Mangaranon, the Aboitiz Moraza cookbook was given out as presents two Christmases ago or so. I suppose if you know an Aboitiz or Moraza who still has extra copies, you might beg, plead and grovel. It is a nice collection of foods we all eat at home… many are not Filipino recipes…

    Feb 21, 2008 | 8:33 am

  15. wil-b cariaga says:

    It has been a long time since I ate torta, I want to refresh my tastebuds. . . I think I dont really remember how good it is, all I know is when I was a kid, we always have sunday breakast after church and after the “Vigan breakfast” of longganissa and lumo soup plus rice and egg we are served with tsokolate and really really good torta baked in banana leaf cups. . . its a great match, torta dipped in hot tsokolate. . .mmmm

    Feb 21, 2008 | 10:05 am

  16. elaine says:

    I first tasted torta at san lo’s famous just about a year ago(can you believe it?!!)I was gobbling it up in one sitting everytime until my mom warned me of its cholesterol content, yikes! But still, I would definitely try your recipe but was thinking of using crisco shortening(I have several butter-flavored sticks)…I can pre-slice into wedges and eat it with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 2:08 pm

  17. sister says:

    Better use pure butter than Crisco, because of the trans fat issue. I’m all for going back to what grandmas used and dor forgetting every substitute after that. A proper torta is indeed made with carefully rendered lard, eggyolks and leavened with fermenting new “tuba” for that unmistakeable flavour.It should be almost like a poundcake, not fluffy at all. I’ve never been a fan of torta but it was an integral part of fiesta prep, hung from the rafters in a basket.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 9:24 pm

  18. Gina says:

    Hi MM. I’m from Cebu and I wrote a piece about my mother’s torta for the Doreen Gamboa foodwriting contest a few years ago that was featured in a newspaper. My mother’s recipe uses heated lard, egg yolks, and fresh tuba; sprinkled with aromatic anise seeds and decorated with raisins and slivers of cheese. No butter or shortening in her recipe. The preparation is rather labor-intensive as the wet dough is mixed by hand. The resulting mixture is then poured into fluted torta tins about 6 inches in diameter lined with wax paper. After letting the dough rise overnight, some of the lard separates from the dough so you could see a film of oil on top (yikes, artery-clogging cholesterol). I suppose the lard plus the egg yolk is what gives this version an open crumb and rather light texture. Amazingly this keeps for as long as 5 days without refrigeration, although of course it progressively gets denser by the day. With microwaving, the original texture is easily revived. I grew up eating this on special occasions; these days there is no way I could enjoy this without wreaking havoc on my cholesterol levels.

    Feb 22, 2008 | 12:10 am

  19. cupcakediva says:

    Hi Gina,Do you mind sharing your mom’s torta recipe here? Thanks in advance!

    Feb 22, 2008 | 2:51 pm

  20. Jaczie says:

    I fondly remember a trip to Bohol with my family around a decade ago. While returning from one of our day trips, we passed by the most amazing smell. We asked the driver to make a u-turn and entered the house/makeshift bakery, and we saw rows and rows of torta!

    Unfortunately, she wouldn’t sell it to us. Apparently, they were pre-ordered or something (I was too young to rememeber, I just know we couldn’t eat it!). She ended up just selling us ONE torta (the only one she can spare), which was quickly devoured by 15 hungry mouths. :) Such a sweet memory of Bohol.

    Feb 22, 2008 | 8:15 pm

  21. Gina says:

    Hi MM. May I answer cupcakediva’s request for my mother’s torta recipe? First, a proper citation/ attribution. The recipe below appears (with my essay)in the book Slow Food: Philippine Culinary Traditions, edited by Linda Panlilio, published by Anvil.


    15 egg yolks
    3 ½ cups sugar
    1 cup evaporated milk
    2 ½ cups newly-gathered tuba (fermented coconut sap)
    9 cups all-purpose flour
    3 cups lard
    1 teaspoon anise seeds
    ½ cup raisin
    slivers of cheese

    Before mixing with other ingredients, heat lard until lukewarm.

    Beat egg yolk. Combine anise seeds and sugar, then add this mixture to beaten egg yolk until well-blended. Add milk and tuba. Add flour a little at a time, hand-mixing all ingredients thoroughly in a rotary, clockwise motion. Pour lukewarm lard, then add raisins into mixture. Continue hand-mixing until lard is completely blended into batter. (Check that consistency is somewhere between that of cake batter and bread dough).

    Pour into tin moulds (fluted, approximately 6 inches in diameter) lined with wax paper. Sprinkle top with a few raisins and slivers of cheese. Set aside for 8 hours or until dough rises.

    In 350° oven, bake for 50 minutes until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool. Drizzle with sugar. Unrefrigerated, torta keeps for 4 days. If refrigerated, microwave before serving. (Above ingredients make 8 pieces torta).

    Feb 22, 2008 | 8:52 pm

  22. Maria Clara says:

    Gina, much appreciate your generous recipe sharing with us your Mom”s famous torta. Now, I have a roadmap to follow. Thank you, thank you and thank you too goes to MM and cupcakediva for exploring that avenue.

    Feb 23, 2008 | 12:40 am

  23. Candygirl says:

    Late January of this year I was at a resort in Bohol when this woman maglalako passed and showed us what she was selling. I think she called them bibingkas although it looked like light brown puto to me. It tasted like a dense puto and not like the bibingka I know (eg. Ferinos). My friend said that it was probably made using brown sugar. Is like a torta too?

    Feb 24, 2008 | 8:38 pm

  24. Dodi says:

    HI MM!
    I will never forget torta in my entire life because I once bought a boxful(3 dozens) from a lady who made them when I was in Camiguin. She used red papel de hapon as wrappers which really made festive looking tortas.These were baked in gas ovens, sometimes you could still smell the kerosene, but they were really tasty! my boxful did not reach CDO at all because while I was walking up the gangplank of the Camuigin-Balingasag ferry, a rush of people bumped me and caused me to fall into the sea, torta box and all!! So there they were, floating in the sea in their bright red papel de hapon wrappers. Looked great floating in the water but all the other people on board were shouting “sayang”!!Well, I was more concerned in getting back on board than gathering the red floaters!!!

    Feb 25, 2008 | 3:03 am

  25. Linda says:

    On another note, you featured (many moons ago)puto Binan. I have tried to make them many, many times before and failed miserably. I have researched the recipe and some showed the use of soy sauce, coffee, brown sugar and molasses to make that brown coloring and distinct delicious taste. Would you by any chance have any clue how to make puto Binan. I am a great fan of this puto and so is my Mom. Thanks for any help on this.

    Feb 26, 2008 | 5:55 am

  26. Dita says:

    I wonder if it is the same as the Torta Bulakena. I took baking lessons from Luisa and Sons (remember them?)from ah . . . years ago. I did not even try it on my own, too heavy for me. I will check if I still have the recipe and will revisit it.
    Definitely different from Taisan which I am so interested in doing it again. I got the recipe from the same class.

    Aug 22, 2008 | 6:01 am

  27. Helen Tindugan says:

    Hello, Marketman, I’m living here in US and i am craving with this kind good looking torta as seen on the top picture. How to get a perfect recipe for this. Please provide me so i can try this and have it on our Thanksgiving Celebration. I have recipes of torta but not look like this. This is what i want, i guess this tastes so good and so yummy. I am salivating now. I am in conception, please i want this. I appreciate it much if you could send the recipe right now for tomorrows event. Thank you and I appreciate and hopeful for prompt response. May God Bless Us.

    Nov 26, 2009 | 4:40 am

  28. Marketman says:

    Helen, to do these right, I understand you would need pork lard and unfiltered or unpasteurized tuba or coconut toddy. If you could settle for a simpler version, but still good, I do have a recipe for “glarious torta” in the archives.

    Nov 26, 2009 | 8:41 pm


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