Traditionally the batter for flat cakes was poured into a banana leaf–lined clay dish and baked over charcoal. The cheese was made from the milk of water buffalos. However, what an aluminum cake pan, electric oven, and prepackaged cheese lack in local color, they make up for in convenience. Coconut milk is available in Asian supermarkets.
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup baking powder
1/2 cup grated Edam cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup grated coconut
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Combine 3/4 cup sugar with the coconut milk. Blend in the beaten eggs.
Combine the sifted flour, salt, and baking powder, and sift again. Fold in the egg mixture. Turn into a lightly greased 11 by 16-inch cake pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the cheese, and bake for another 15 minutes, basting twice with the melted butter. Remove the cake from the oven, brush with the remaining butter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the coconut. Slice into squares, and serve.
Yields 15 to 20 squares.
Tip: Because of its versatility and availability, coconut is widely used in Filipino foods. Buko or fresh young coconut produces a refreshing juice and sweet white flesh, while the mature coconut or niyog is grated and squeezed with water to make coconut milk or gata.
The nine-day pre-Christmas novena ends with midnight mass on Christmas Eve. After mass comes the Noche Buena, or Midnight Feast, where the traditional meal is Arroz Caldo Con Pollo, Caldereta, Paksiw na Lechón, hot Tsokolate, a native chocolate drink, Buko salad (a misnomer), and an endless supply of Christmas cookies!
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.