How to Make Bibingka for Christmas

A Filipino recipe with notes of rice, coconut and ube jam.


When I was growing up, you knew the holiday season had arrived at my house when aromas of banana leaves and sweetness wafted from the kitchen. Dad was baking his special bibingka—a rice cake often cooked and served in banana leaves—to give away as gifts.


Bibingka is a holiday tradition in the Philippines, and baking it reminds my father of home. The texture can range from mochi-like to cakelike, depending on the recipe; my father’s comes out like a coffee cake. Occasionally, if he feels like it, he’ll decorate it with egg or cheese on top.


While my baby sister grew up reciting his recipe by heart, I cannot give away his secrets, so I have come up with my own version to share with you.


Lalaine’s bibingka

  • Banana leaves (optional)
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3½ cups sweet rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 15-oz can cream of coconut
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Ube jam or halaya (optional)


Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Wash and dry banana leaves, if using, and soften over the oven before lining the baking pan with them. Make sure they cover the entire surface so there are no gaps.
In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar. Then, add in the eggs one by one.
Mix in the remaining ingredients except for ube halaya and stir until smooth.
Pour into the pan. Add ube halaya for topping and extra flavor.
Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.


My bibingka recipe produces a treat that’s somewhere between mochi and cake in texture. I like how the ube halaya sinks into the middle and oozes out when you cut in. I hope you enjoy this Filipino holiday dessert.