Buko Pie a la Marketman


Buko (Coconut) pie seems to be the omnipresent food pasalubong or purchase if one happens to be on a road trip to Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, etc. Judging from the number of roadside vendors proclaiming they have the “it” buko pie, and the number of folks who buy them, one would expect something truly pie2special, unique, flavorful, addictive, desirable, memorable. Frankly, I just don’t remember a single buko pie that I have ever tasted that I would describe as being special. However, in the interest of Market Manila’s readers and my own personal curiosity, I set out to make a buko pie that would challenge the best out there on the market. First of all, this pie can’t be more than say 100 years old since the concept of two crust pies must have come to us from the Americans during the early 1900’s, along with modern ovens, and their mad desire to totally blanket the country in coconut palm plantations. So it is a relatively new invention, yet it has stuck in a big way.

Coconut as a filler for the pie is an unusual choice, normally you would go for intense fruit such as blueberries, plums, peaches or even apples but spiced up. Using truly bland coconut pie3without much flavoring but lots of sugar instead seems like a poor choice at best…why not mango or duhat pies or mangosteen tarts or mixtures of guava jelly and other tropical fruits? My theory is that we just had so much coconut coming out of our ears at one point and someone got the brilliant idea to use the coconut in a pie. Even a caramelized pineapple pie sounds more intriguing to me, and I am allergic to pineapple! Why buko pie has prevailed over all the other possible tropical fruit pies is beyond me. Nostalgia to a time when food was not so plentiful or available? Cost? Brainwashing? Texture? Childhood memories? What?!? I don’t get it. Will buko pie lovers please explain? Despite this base negativism, I did set out to make a great pie and I did do it with the best ingredients I could find.

First, I stopped by a coconut vendor in Batangas and asked for 6 top notch young coconuts which he provided for PHP45. He lied a bit. They were about a week older than they pie5should have been so the meat was a touch firmer than I would have liked. Next, I made the best pie crust I know how to make using lots of butter, shortening, flour etc. as described in my apple pie post. I used a deep 10 inch pie pan, not those shallow namby pamby 8 inch glorified oversized tart pans. To make the filling, I used 5 cups of coconut meat from about 6 coconuts, scooped out with spoons and cut into largish pieces. Put that in a heavy enameled pot along with 1 and ¼ cups of granulated sugar, ¾ cup evaporated milk, 1 and ½ tablespoons butter in little cubes, ½ cup coconut water wherein 5 – 6 tablespoons of cornstarch has been dissolved and put over medium heat until it thickens a bit. Add a little coconut water if you think it looks too thick. You can also substitute canned coconut milk for the coconut water if you want added richness. The secret Marketman ingredient? Half of a fat fresh locally grown vanilla bean which released a phenomenal amount of seeds and added tremendous flavor – that 1/2 bean cost PHP80 or nearly twice as much as the coconuts!

Roll out the bottom crust and put in a ten inch pie pan. Add the filling. Cover with a top crust. Brush with an egg wash and puncture with a fork and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool and serve either at room temperature or cold. Actually, I liked its consistency better the next day, and chilled. The result? One of the best buko pies I have ever tasted. The vanilla was a noticeable addition and the little specks of vanilla screamed “I am superior to my roadside cousins” – an elitist buko pie!pie6But, despite the creaminess, the fresh coconut, the vanilla, and the good crust…it still did not impress. It was blander than most pies and if you were to be unkind, you could describe it as eating cold, vanilla flavored, elmers glue with chopped coconut meat. The crust was the best part, frankly. Everyone in the house thought it was good, but not GREAT. I still don’t know why it is such a big deal for some folks. I made it once, and well, I don’t think I’m making it again in the near future… At least our discerning labrador thought it smelled good enough to explore… Now a slimmer pie or tart with a macapuno filling sounds a lot more interesting to me…I just have to find me some fresh macapuno again…


40 Responses

  1. your buko does look older than it should be to be a good buko pie filling. this shows in the third picture especially.

    the best way to eat buko is direct from its shell, with a spoon. nothing added.

    the second best way is to add white sugar and evaporated milk to the buko still in its shell.


  2. Well, say there is no favour then for Buko pie;
    What other pleaures can the world afford?
    I’ll make heaven mixed in a frangipane,
    And deck layer cakes with my white strands,

  3. I have Spanish friends who would jump through hoops for buko pie! After every dive trip, they make sure to stop by Colette’s and get a couple of boxes. Then when they get home, they cut a slice, stick it in the microwave/toaster oven for a quick zap to warm it up a bit and then they savor every bite. This they tell me with big, dreamy eyes and drool trickling down their chin, I swear. hehe I love buko pie, but then again I love almost all pie! But not with half as much passion as these friends of mine do.

  4. I think the buko in buko pie is not the one that makes it special. It’s more of the custard and the crust. You’re right in saying that the buko is kinda “unimpressive” but with the right crust and custard, it’s heaven!

  5. You made another big mark on this buko pie. It looks very stunning. The third picture, I can see the vanilla bean specks in it. The buttery crust and custard filling gave it a big leap. Whatever misrepresentations your buko man gave you the pie came out perfect. Salivating is an understatement just looking at your pictures!

  6. Never had a great buko pie myself but there is just something very comforting about it that leaves me satisfied after having a slice.

    Marketman, where did you buy the locally grown vanilla?!

  7. You know the best buco pie I’ve had so far is Orient Buco Pie. I’ve tried Colette but it is not the same when it comes to the quality of Orient buco pie. I eve ask my family back home in Sta. Rosa, Laguna to send me Orient buco pie via the shortest flight to Los Angeles. Everytime I go home in the Philippines I drive all the way to Los Banos to get 10 to 20 Orient buco pies and some other pastries they have for giveaways to my friends and family members. Their buco pie is not very very sweet but to my liking and they also carries different kind of pies and pastries. But you are right it is about time that we create pies out of duhat, santol, langka, mango and more. I’m going on vacation in October and for sure I’m going to Los Banos. If America has cranberries, raspberries and blackberries, why can’t we not develop juices and pastries out of duhat, langka, mango and santol. If America has chocolate covered strawberries, why can’t we not create chocolate covered macopa? We can also create chocolate covered macapuno balls and even chocolate covered melon balls. O di ba mas masarap iyon? Don’t forget we have ube. If we have peanut butter or coco jam, we can also make ube jam or ube peanut butter? Upo and patola can be served from the cutting board as fresh salad like pipino. If Norway and America can create smoked salmon, we can create smoked tilapia or smoked hito. We have alot of calabasa and we can create calabasa powder that we can mix with rice and create a new staple to augment the needs of the Filipino people. We can make langka pulp and suha or pomelo pulp and make them into expoliant nad can make tinibang saging into fiber and convert it into wallpaper or carpet.

  8. One of the best buko pie I’ve had is from “Roll and Bake” but they’re located here in California. Its better than the ones you buy from Laguna in the Phils. Its not too sweet and not gooey, the texture is just right, firm. It can withstand croos country flights, I’ve taken it to relatives in different cities and states and it still tasted and looked good. For your US/Cali readers, here’s the address: 4901 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach 90805. Sometimes I see a few Roll and Bake buko pie boxes at the Filipino grocery Island Pacific in Cerritos.


  9. Hi MM, I think somewhere in Laguna there is a place called D’Original Buko Pie, it realy is a lot better than Collettes. But my question is, where did you buy the vanilla beans?! :)

  10. Hello SugarCocoon, Thank you so much for the info regarding Roll and Bake in Long Beach. Our cruise ship is always in San Pedro, Ca and my home is in Hawthorne.

    Hello Bettina, D’Original Buko Pie you mentioned is the same Orient Buco Pie aka known as Orient – D’Original Buko Pie

  11. MM, it seems the buko you have is a bit old nga. You should’ve asked for coconuts older than mala-uhog but not yet mala-kanin. Or asked for one coconut to be opened. They have a tool where the buko can be scooped out whole. yep, like a ball with water inside. Put in a plastic bag and just punch a straw to drink the coconut water.

    The best buko pie is Orient D’Original, and it seems their only store is in Los Banos.

    Every time we vist my in-laws in Nagcarlan, we do not forget to buy a couple of boxes of buko pie from Orient. They also have other products that are so good. The pineapple pie, tropical pie and their cassava cake is superb.

  12. I agree with Erleen. Yummy. I can’t wait to go home in the Philippines and eat Orient buco pie.

    Hello SugarCocoon I found Roll and Bake tel # in Long Beach, Ca. It is 562-984-3777.

  13. Is there no limit to your talent?!! This pie looks and sounds great. Another recipe I MUST try! thank you!

  14. Also, would you consider using the new coco evap which I beleive is an evaporated form of gata, or would that change it altogether?

  15. Heehee. I was teasing and you all bit. I was wondering how many foodies would wonder where I got the extra plump, totally yummy, locally grown vanilla bean pod… it’s coming up soon in a post. Alicia, yes, it might work with coco evap. I find many buko pies overdo the cornstarch so the custard is paste-y, keep that in mind if you bake this.

  16. I lovvvvvvvve Buko Pie! I love just about everything that involves coconut, espicially young coconut. The crust is just there to round out the sweetness of the buko, in my opinion. When I had this though, it looked more like macapuno filling without the gata, as it was more clear instead of white. At least I think so, I haven’t had it in a few years.
    BTW, I could eat nata de coco right out of the jar :)

  17. we have vanilla, we have vanilla….yes, we do have locally-grown vanilla here in Davao, at Eden Nature Park. I think two other farms here grow vanilla, too. Are your vanilla pods my kababayans, MarketMan?

  18. Since I can’t get buko here where I live, do you have a recipe for pineapple pie? Pineapples are easier to get here. I’ll try your crust recipe. Thanks.

  19. Virgilio, I have never made or eaten a pineapple pie. And I am allergic to the fruit though I wasn’t as a kid. But here’s something you might try. Make the pastry crust and bake it on a flat pan in a disc shape. Add some good thick pastry cream and on top of that rounds of fresh pineapple that you have grilled on a barbecue. You can even coat it with brown sugar before grilling. It’s an experiment, but it sounds good to me…

  20. I’m like you, MM — I find buko pie boooring. So bland! HOWEVER, the pictures of your version almost made me want to try it if only for the crust, which looks perfect. Truth be told, I think I mostly enjoy pies because of the crust. I could almost ignore the fruit filling and just eat the buttery, flaky crust. I love when other people don’t bother scooping up the edges from the pan when they fall off of their slice…more for me!

  21. Katrina, the fruit is the excuse to eat the crust…heehee. Actually, a pie with intense fresh blueberry filling or plums or peaches is truly sublime. And I do like an apple pie made right…

  22. Katrina, my god, I eat pie for the crust. As for buko pie, I love buko pie. BUT. I only like the one that I make. It’s got a custard in it that I’m sure will benefit from the new coco-evap out now on the market. (and no, that’s NOT a shameless plug!)

  23. I just found your website in search of information about malagkit. I’m in New England and every once in a while I need to close the cultural gap with food. I found Malagkit in a Vietnamese market in Providence.

    Also, thank you for posting the buko pie recipe. We can get fresh coconuts here, so we will be enjoying this tomorrow.

    Thanks again for a fine blog.


  24. MasPinaSarap says “BTW, I could eat nata de coco right out of the jar :)” hee hee hee, is there another way? We had nata de coco at Holiday Inn in Kuala Lumpur, and I was hooked. Only one place to get it here (Oregon USA) that I know of, Uwajimaya Asian Superstore and they were OUT last week, had to try apple flavored NDC, it was okay, so-so, also got a couple jars of macapuno, but what to do with it? Too sweet, found this site while looking for recipes for it, but being too impatient, I ended up putting water in the jar, shaking it, draining off the too-sweet syrup and eating the whole jarful :^) BUT, no match for NDC so must go back soon and see if they have any yet??

  25. hello marketman, I would really like to know where can you buy the locally grown vanilla beans you mentioned? I am a chef here in cebu city and i am ordering a bottle of madagascar vanilla bean from the states to try soon. But It would be much cheaper to buy them in the philippines and to showcase that these are philippine grown vanilla beans to our future clients. our filipino fine dining restaurant will be opening next month and I intend to display and make use of all Filipino treasures in my dessert menu. thank you very much.

  26. I love buko pies from ‘D ORIGINALS in Los Banos, Laguna. I never failed to buy some when we had a chance to visit the place. We make sure that we’re there by 8am (opening time) to be the first in line. I simply love it!
    MM, your site is addicting! lol Finally, I found my home.. :*

  27. try to replace the coconut water with coconut milk. it makes for a tastier pie.

    tried and tested. my family loves the buko pie i make for thanksgiving and christmas.

  28. hello, does anyone know someone in laguna that could ship the orient-d’original buko pie to me for a fee? im in michigan, and im crazy about that particular buko pie. i wish i have a relative there but im afraid i dont.
    it would be a wonderful christmas treat for me hehehe. would appreciate any help out there.

    Happy Holidays to everyone!

  29. Hello,

    anyone know the exact address of The Orient – d’original buko pie?… i’ve read so much about this famous buko pie that it makes me crave…. an address would be cool, but directions will be greater! Help needed badly!

  30. I personally don’t like too much of a flaky/crumbly butter rich pie crust for buko pie. All that butter and shortening overwhelms the buko filling, especially since their it’s not an acidic fruit.

  31. =) buko pie… we’d get this going to and coming from puerto galera when i was in high school. you could say it was part of our summer/sembreak routine. i don’t bake but i’ve put away quite a few (hundred)slices so i feel that i know what i’m talking about reasonably well. ;) imo, the coconut really does count! younger ones (‘malauhog’ or mucus-like, pardon the term) is the best coconut to use (though i don’t know exactly how old that would be… hehe…). when you bite into it, it should be less of a slicing feel from your central incisors, more of a sliding/gently parting and never a crunching (that would mean that the buko’s really mature and/or they scraped it too close to the ‘bao’/shell. of course, a not-too sweet custard and a slightly salty, flaky pastry would only make it better! =)

  32. Your disdain for a simple filipino dessert is curious. However, I suppose the people who truly appreciate this simple dessert are those filipinos that are away from home for a while and just long for ANYTHING that reminds them of authentic home cooking/baking. I bake several of these pies at every occasion and all my wife’s filipino friends devour it very quickly. As an American, I enjoy Buco pie and my favorite is made by National Bakery in Cavite, Manila.

  33. Brian, I am not sure where you picked up my “disdain” for a “simple filipino dessert. More likelly you are a new visitor to the blog and haven’t even begun to explore the 2,100+ posts in the archives, several of which address the simplest of Philippine desserts with more care than most people on foodblogs have ever done. From rice based ones, to cassava to egg based desserts. So for you to conclude a disdain is silly at best, uninformed and dumb at worst. I personally am not fond of buco pie as it lacks a distinctive oomph for me, and many commercial versions are not particularly appealing either. I could list dozens of other “simpler” Filipino desserts I would make for homesick pinoys.

  34. well, for me, to enjoy food, it doesn’t mean that it has to have strong flavor. I know that there are so many good pies out there! hehe,true! but i still love eating buko pie=) If your wondering why is it such a big deal for many Filipinos, its simply because we’re Filipinos! haha^^ Filipino cooking is well known for it’s simplicity^^ We love simple food=)

  35. Hi! Orient The Original Buko Pie is still the best buko pie bakeshop in the Philippines. Aside from it’s the very first buko pie bakeshop in the country which is already 42 years old it’s also very affordable. Orient’s buko pie is very delicious and healthy. It’s always hot and fresh. Well, nasa kumakain naman ‘yan… as long as you’re enjoying what you’re eating ok na.

    Orient The Original Buko Pie Bakeshop’s ADDRESS:

    National Hi-way, Brgy. Anos, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines, 4030

    Tel.#: (049) 536-3783
    (049) 827-3005



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