Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog. While the techniques in these recipes are not really challenging or new, the real challenge is to try some new flavors from a food culture that is not as well-known as so many others.

The Sans Rival, though one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines, has its origins in France and was probably brought back by Filipinos who went abroad to study. A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, typically using crushed cashews, with very rich French buttercream frosting that is allowed to bake and dry to a crispy layer so that there is the crunch of pastry and nuts with the buttery, silky frosting.

When I first went through the list of ingredients for this month’s challenge, I was overwhelmed by the number of eggs this recipe calls for – 10 whites and 5 yolks. The other thing that got me reluctant was the shocking amount of butter used in the frosting. Initially I thought of scaling down the proportions to bake a smaller cake but I finally gave in and used the measurements provided.

Though I did not quite achieve the crisp meringue layers described in the given recipe, I was still very much happy with its chewy nougat- like consistency when polishing off  the remains of my sans rival out of the fridge three days later. Thank you Catherine for giving me and my fellow Daring Bakers the opportunity of becoming acquainted with this very elegant dessert.

‘SANS RIVAL’ CAKE

 

Ingredients:

10 large egg whites, room temperature

1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar

¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional)

2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted cashews

Method:

  • Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
  • Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.

 

  • Brushing the parchment paper with some oil will help you to peel it off after the dacquoise is baked. 
  • In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy for 2 mins.

 

  • Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  • Continue to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form for about 7-10 mins.

 

  • Fold in finely ground nuts, reserving the coarsely ground to use for decoration of the finished cake.
  • Do not grind the nuts down to a fine powder. This recipe is better with the nuts in a grainy/sandy grind.

 

 

  • Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges.
  • If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove meringue from pans while still hot.
  • Allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm.

  • After removing the paper, return to the warm oven to dry out so that layers stay crunchy.
  • When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

FRENCH BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

5 large egg yolks, room temperature

1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar

1/4 cup (60 ml) water

1¼ cup (300 ml) (2½ sticks) (285 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted or,

1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) almond extract or,

1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) vanilla extract

Method:

  • Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until doubled in volume and lemon yellow.
  • Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat.

  • Stir the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and syrup reaches 235°F/112°C or thread stage.
  • With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added.

  • Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters.
  • Continue beating on high until the mixture is room temperature for about 15 mins.

  • Still on high, beat in butter one tablespoon at a time. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter.
  • Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.

To Assemble the Sans Rival

  • Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place.
  • Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top.

  • Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue.
  • Finally spread buttercream the top and sides. Decorate with reserved nuts.

  • The Sans Rival definitely must be refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • It will keep for about three days, but fresher is better.

Bibingka is traditionally served during Christmas and is similar to other Asian desserts that use rice flour as the base, like mochii. The traditional method of preparation is to line a special clay pot with banana leaves, pour in the batter, top with banana leaf, and then sit it in coals to cook. It is served with a shredded, mild, white cheese and slices of salted egg on top for flavor contrasts.

I was reminded of our local poutou, probably a cousin of bibingka, with similarities in both taste and texture. It’s been a while since I last made poutou and therefore the chance of making something close was very much welcome. I was not too keen on the salted toppings and went for the simple look with shredded coconut and a dab of butter atop my baked rice cakes. 

BIBINGKA

Ingredients:

2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11.3 oz) rice flour

1/2 cup (120 ml) (80 gm) (2.8 oz) glutinous rice flour

1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) baking powder

3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm) (6 oz) sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2⅔ oz) unsalted butter melted

1-1/2 cup (360 ml) coconut milk

6 pieces banana leaves cut into 8-inch (20 cm) circles

1 salted egg, sliced into 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick slices (optional)

Butter, salted or unsalted, for brushing the tops

1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) white granulated sugar

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) grated coconut (optional)

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) grated Edam cheese (optional)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
  • Line six tart pans or ramekins with banana leaves and brush the leaves with butter.
  • Cakes baked in 6-inch (15 cm) pans more closely resemble the traditional ones.

  • The cakes baked in 4-inch (10 cm) ramekins are thicker and take longer to bake.
  • Combine rice flour, glutinous rice flour, baking powder, and sugar together in a bowl.
  • Beat eggs in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Add butter and coconut milk and mix well.

  • Add the flour mixture and blend well until smooth. Pour the rice batter equally into the six pans or ramekins.
  • Lay a slice of salted egg on top and bake until the cake is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Instead of a sliced salted egg, the cakes can be topped with slices of Edam or Gouda cheese. 

  • Take the cakes out of the oven and brush the top with butter.
  • Turn the broiler to low and broil the cakes to brown the top for about two minutes.
  • Brush the cakes with butter and sprinkle with sugar, grated coconut, and grated Edam cheese.

  • If using frozen grated coconut, allow to thaw, then place on paper towels to soak up the extra moisture.
  • Place them on a baking tray and lightly toast for about a few minutes with the broiler/griller turned on low.
  • Bibingka should be served warm. It will keep for a day in the fridge.

After baking my way through two filipino desserts, I became quite fascinated by this particular cuisine and decided to give the filipino-style brioche a shot. Taken from Jun‘s blog, this cute snail-shaped bun brings together the contrast between the softness of a buttery crumb and the crunch of a sugar sprinkled crust. I believe it would make a lovely duo with a cup of coffee at teatime.

“Ensaimada came to the Filipino table from the island of Majorca in Spain, in the Mediterranean Sea. The spiral-shaped pastry got its name from the Mallorquinese word saim, which means pork lard. Each piece is rolled flat into a thin sheet, which is brushed with pork lard and then rolled like a jelly roll, then twisted into a coil. In place of pork lard, Filipinos use butter to make their ensaimadas.”

ENSAIMADA

Ingredients:

1 packet instant dry yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm water

6 tablespoons sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup evaporated milk

Canola oil, for greasing

 

Method:

  • Dissolve yeast in warm water with a temperature anywhere between 100 and 110 degrees F.
  • To proof yeast, add one tbs sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. If the mixture doubles in volume then yeast is active.
  • It is very important to make sure that yeast is active. Make sure that the water temperature is around 100 to 110 degrees F.

 

  • Sift flour and salt together twice. Add about 1/2 cup of flour to yeast and set aside.
  • Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

  • Turn the speed to medium-low, add yolks, one at a time, beating well.  Add flour alternately with milk.
  • Mix until well incorporated.  Add yeast mixture, beating well. Replace the paddle with a kneading hook.
  • Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead by hand on a clean surface until smooth and elastic.

 

  • Let the dough rest in a bowl greased lightly with canola oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rise until double in size, about one to two hours. Punch the dough and divide into twelve small, equal portions.
  • Roll out each piece to a thin sheet, brush with melted butter, and roll sheet like you would a jelly roll.

 

  • Coil this into a spiral-shaped bun. Either place the dough flat on greased baking sheets or in greased fluted brioche molds.
  • Set aside to rise until double in size, about an hour. When the dough is almost done, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Bake until the crust turns golden brown. Brush with melted butter and dust with sugar.
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