Bibingkahan / “Pinoy” Terra Cotta Oven


I never really thought I would ever cook bibingka from scratch. That is, until, I started this blog over a year ago. Because of this blog, I have discovered so many new things, tried so many different recipes, researched so many more food related items than I could have ever imagined. Egged on by readers and a personal desire to seek new experiences, I have tried to bring more and more content onto the blog. bibi5Often, these items are the most basic things we take for granted (like macapuno) but never bothered to find out more about. I have eaten hundreds of bibingkas in my lifetime but always considered them to be things I purchased rather than made myself. So a few months ago when at the market in Batangas, I decided to see it they sold an old-fashioned bibingka “oven” made from terra cotta pottery. For very little money, we found this version that had a pre-fabricated cement base and a more traditional terra cotta bowl. I took it home to Manila and realized I didn’t have the contraption for the coals above the bibingka and it was put away and promptly forgotten until last week…

One of my crew used to work as a welder so I asked him if he could craft the upper heating element made out of scrap galvanized iron sheet and a wire. He did a great job and voila, a usable bibingka oven… There has been a some discussion about the origins of bibinkga, what with a Goan (Indian) dessert by bibi8the name of bebinca, a highly likely pre-cursor to our own version. The Goan bebinca (also common in Macau and East Timor, other former Portuguese colonies) is a multi-layered (16 layers traditionally) pudding made with flour, coconut milk, sugar, eggs and butter and garnished with almonds. It is enjoyed at holiday periods as well and could certainly have made its way to the Philippines several centuries ago… It is cooked in a pan that is heated from below and above as well… sounds familiar? There is a great discussion over the origins of bibingka at eGullet, click this link. Of course, we may also have just adopted the name and applied it to an original dessert, in the same vein of argument that adobo was just a spanish name for something that existed when the Spaniards arrived. At any rate, the bibingkahan as we know it now is a neat little home oven, good for a little portion of baking and doesn’t require gas, metal, knobs, thermostats, etc. Let’s see if Marketman can put his bibingkahan to good use in the weeks ahead…

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

12 Responses

  1. Same for me as anonymous paul but I also want two kinds of cheese – queso de bola and kesong puti. Thankyouverymuch. I’ll have a cup of hot cocoa with it too – upsize if there is that option…

  2. i miss bibingka cooked in old fashioned oven with fire above and fire is so good especially if its still warm.

  3. It might be a tad early but nothing spells Christmas season for me more than bibingka so I followed your link and noticed that with all that lengthy exchange about the etymology of bebinca nobody (including me) ever stopped to point out that since the word only shows up in Luso-Indian dictionaries and not in Luso-Brasilian ones it indicates that the word is not Iberian at all but most likely of Indian descent and could have spread over the whole of Southeast Asia even before Iberian navigation just like kare, gulai, putu and atjar or guru and sutra or majarlika even. The meaning seems to indicate the baking process since the same rice batter is called different things when cooked in different ways and Iberian type eggyolk rich batters are called bebinca in Goa and Macau when baked. I discovered later on that the Indians have a tubular breakfast item made out of rice flour and grated coconut called puttu which is cooked in fat cylindrical steamers not much different from the way we steam our slender putu bumbong which brings my thought back to Christmas once more.

  4. Thanks for reminding me that I have those original bibingka terracota stoves and bowls I asked my family back home to send to me per air cargo many years ago. Once a part of my kitchen decor now they’re collecting cobwebs in the cellar together with the other clay pots that came along with the cargo. Never had the chance to use them but with banana leaves availabe at Asia shops here I think I’ll give cooking bibingka a try. You didn’t give us your recipe though. BTW, I tried to cook sinigang using one of those terracota pots I have and it tasted yucky. It smelled of clay and it tasted of clay. Didn’t know that if the pot is new it has to be soaked in water for a while. True?. Anywya, never used it again!

  5. Virgilio, as with cast iron, I suspect the terracotta pots have to be seasoned before being used. Yes, I suspect you need to soak it and perhpas boil some water in it before using it for other purposes. You may need to look at the glaze if there is any as well. I have had fried rice made in a palayok and I have to say it tasted sublime! anonymous Paul and Gigi, you are too funny, placing your orders. Actually i prefer mine without the salted egg…just butter and sugar, thanks. Apicio, I agree with the Indian source for the word rather than a Portuguese one… Millet, I am a bibingka neophyte, so bear with the upcoming experiments!

  6. Virgilio, you should have seasoned your clay pot first. I dunno how the process is, I only know how to oil-season a new cast iron skillet. Gonna ask my grandma how she did hers.

  7. Portuguese or Indian bibingka rocks!Back in bohol we use rice flour and tuba in making bibingka.

  8. You know, I was shopping in NYC in this Japanese store, I found these little ovens similar to the one above, and they even sold little bags of charcoal and tiny cast iron skillets. All three only came out to about like 3.90. I think I might try to use it for this. :)

  9. Anyone who can give me a really delicious and easy to make traditional bibingka cooked using coal… please…

Comments are closed.