Filipino Biscocho: What is it and Where Did it Come From?
Biscocho is also known as biskotso. It’s a type of biscuit that’s been popular in the Philippines since the Spanish colonial era. The name “biscocho” comes from the Spanish word “bizcocho” but it became a full filipino food tradition as well.
Traditionally, the bread is double-baked to make it very dry. It’s supposed to be very crispy with a delicious buttery flavor.
Biscocho is made with flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, and butter or margarine. Instead of an exclusively long strip shape like biscotti, the Filipino biscocho is made with long, oval, or square bread slices.
Basically, stale bread slices like monay, ensaymada, or pandesal are generously covered in a butter and sugar creamy mixture, just like in this recipe.
Since biscocho is one of the most popular recipes for simple snack foods, people are most familiar with the classic buttery sweet taste.
The buttery biscocho is the perfect snack to go with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and it’s super delicious!
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Origin
- 2 The Many Variants of Filipino Biscocho
- 3 Quick and Easy Tips for Making the Best Filipino Biscocho
- 4 Choosing the Right Bread for Your Biscocho Recipe
- 5 How to Slice and Dice Your Way to Perfect Biscocho
- 6 Keeping Your Biscocho Fresh: A Guide to Proper Storage
- 7 Other Filipino Delights Similar to Biscocho
- 8 Conclusion
In the Philippines, Biscocho (full recipe here) is typically associated with the Visayan province of Ilo-Ilo, where the bread is baked, then topped with butter or margarine, sugar, and garlic (which is optional).
However, because of the mobility of Filipinos, this biscocho recipe has been brought over to the country’s different regions.
The origin of biscocho traces back to Spain where it’s a type of Spanish biscuit. It’s said to have been introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era between the 16th and 19th centuries.
The Spanish version is a bit different from the Filipino version because of the addition of anise seeds, which give the biscuits a unique flavor. The popular Spanish biscocho is also baked twice like the Filipino counterpart, and sometimes even thrice, to make it extra dry and crispy.
Since then, the recipe has been adopted and adapted by Filipinos to create the biscocho that we have today!
The Many Variants of Filipino Biscocho
Filipino biscocho is characteristically made from stale bread that is baked until crunchy. However, there are many variants of breads used to achieve the main characteristic of biscocho. Some of the common types of breads used are:
- Loaf bread
- Sourdough bread
- French bread
Named Variants of Biscocho
Biscocho is known by different names in different regions of the Philippines. Here are some of the named variants of biscocho:
- Roscas- a specialty of the province of Ilocos Norte, characteristically flat and pan-shaped, dusted with anise-flavored sugar
- Biscochos- a common variant that is typically soft and flavored with anise, giving it a tangy and slightly salty taste
- Corbata- a specialty of the towns of Barugo and Carigara in Leyte, shaped like a bowtie and made with lard or oily fat, giving it a distinct taste
- Minimally sliced biscochos- a variant that refers to biscochos that are sliced minimally, giving it a crunchy texture
Regions Where Biscocho Originates
Biscocho is a popular snack all over the Philippines, but it originates from the Ilocos region in the northern part of the country. The Ilocos region is known for its crunchy and anise-flavored biscochos.
Anise is a common ingredient in biscocho, giving it a distinct flavor. However, some variants of biscocho use other flavors, such as vanilla or cinnamon.
Technically Not a Biscuit
Despite its name, biscocho is technically not a biscuit. Biscuits are typically soft and fluffy, while biscocho is hard and crunchy.
Soft vs. Crunchy Biscocho
There are two main types of biscocho- soft and crunchy. Soft biscocho is typically made from fresh bread and is softer in texture. Crunchy biscocho, on the other hand, is made from stale bread and is baked until it becomes hard and crunchy.
Quick and Easy Tips for Making the Best Filipino Biscocho
- Regular white bread is the most common type used for biscocho, but you can also use other types of bread like pan de sal or ensaymada for a different flavor.
- Make sure the bread is fresh and not stale to ensure a crispy texture.
- Cut the bread into thin slices or use a rolling pin to flatten it out.
Making the Sugar Mixture
- In a bowl, combine sugar and a bit of water to make a thick paste.
- Add softened or melted butter to the mixture for extra flavor.
- You can also add grated cheese or chopped nuts for a different twist.
Preparing the Bread for Baking
- Spread the sugar mixture onto each slice of bread, making sure to cover both sides.
- Place the bread slices onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in a preheated oven at high temperature until the bread is golden brown and crispy.
Serving and Storing Biscocho
- Biscocho can be served as a standalone snack or as a side dish for breakfast or midday merienda.
- It’s also an excellent choice to serve with steamed rice dishes for a balanced meal.
- Store biscocho in an airtight container to keep it fresh for several days.
Adding a Baliwag Twist
- Baliwag biscocho is a popular high-end version of the Filipino snack.
- To make Baliwag biscocho, use a different method of making the sugar mixture by cooking it until it becomes a caramel.
- Spread the caramel onto the bread slices before baking for an ideal flavor.
Trying Different Varieties
- Biscocho can be made with different types of bread and sugar mixtures to create a variety of flavors.
- You can also try adding different spreads like peanut butter or Nutella for a sweet twist.
- Biscocho can also be used as a base for other desserts like cake or as a topping for buttered toast.
Biscocho is a real Filipino treat that’s easy to make and perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a sweet addition to your breakfast or midday merienda, biscocho is a delicious choice that’s sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Choosing the Right Bread for Your Biscocho Recipe
When it comes to making biscocho, not all bread is created equal. The type of bread you choose can make or break your recipe. Here are some of the most popular types of bread used for biscocho:
- Loaf bread- This is the most common type of bread used for biscocho. It’s dense and has a tight crumb, which makes it perfect for slicing and toasting.
- Pandesal- This is a common bread in the Philippines and is often used for biscocho. It’s a bit softer than loaf bread and has a slightly sweet taste.
- French bread- This bread has a crispy crust and a soft, airy interior. It’s a great choice if you want a biscocho with a bit more crunch.
- Brioche- This buttery, pastry-like bread is a bit more decadent than other types of bread and can add a rich flavor to your biscocho.
Ingredients to Look For
When choosing bread for your biscocho recipe, look for bread that has the following characteristics:
- Moisture- Bread that is too dry won’t absorb the butter and sugar mixture properly, resulting in a less flavorful biscocho.
- Dense crumb- Bread with a dense crumb will hold up better when sliced and toasted.
- Butteriness- Bread with a buttery flavor will enhance the flavor of your biscocho.
How to Slice Your Bread
Once you’ve chosen the right bread for your biscocho recipe, it’s time to slice it. Here’s how to do it:
- Trim the crust- Remove the crust from the bread using a sharp knife.
- Slice lengthwise- Cut the bread into 1/2 inch thick slices lengthwise.
- Cut into cubes- Cut each slice into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Score the middle- Use a sharp knife to score the middle of each cube. This will help the bread absorb the butter and sugar mixture.
- Bake- Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
Recommended Bread for Biscocho
If you’re not sure which bread to use for your biscocho recipe, here are some of the best ones to try:
- Sourdough bread- This bread has a tangy flavor that pairs well with the sweetness of the butter and sugar mixture.
- Ciabatta- This bread has a crispy crust and a soft, chewy interior that makes it perfect for biscocho.
- Challah- This bread is slightly sweet and has a rich, buttery flavor that will enhance your biscocho.
- Baguette- This bread is shaped like a long, thin cylinder and has a crispy crust and a soft, airy interior. It’s a great choice if you want a biscocho with a bit more crunch.
Enhancing Your Biscocho with the Right Bread
Choosing the right bread for your biscocho recipe is a humble culinary art that can make a big difference in the final product. By selecting the right type of bread and slicing it properly, you can create a biscocho that is buttery, crunchy, and full of flavor. So next time you’re making biscocho, take the time to choose the right bread and enjoy the delicious results.
How to Slice and Dice Your Way to Perfect Biscocho
Now that you’ve prepared both the bread and the mixture, it’s time to combine them and bake your Biscocho:
- Dip each bread cube into the mixture, making sure to coat it evenly.
- Place the coated bread cubes back onto the baking sheet and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the Biscocho is still warm, brush each cube with a mixture of 1/4 cup of melted margarine and 1/4 cup of milk. This will give your Biscocho a nice shine.
- Let the Biscocho cool to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
- If your bread is too fresh, you can microwave it for 30 seconds to help dry it out.
- For a thicker Biscocho, use a thicker slice of bread and a thicker coating of the mixture.
- Letting the bread cubes sit in the mixture for a few minutes before baking will help them absorb more of the flavor.
- If you want your Biscocho to rise more, let the bread cubes sit in the mixture for a longer period of time before baking.
Keeping Your Biscocho Fresh: A Guide to Proper Storage
So, you’ve got your hands on some delicious Filipino biscocho, but now you’re wondering how to store it properly to keep it fresh. Here are some tips to help you out:
- Store your biscocho in an airtight container to prevent air and moisture from getting in. This will help keep it fresh for longer.
- Keep your biscocho in a cool, dry place at room temperature. Avoid storing it in direct sunlight or in a humid area, as this can cause it to become stale or moldy.
- Cover your biscocho with a lid or plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. This will also help prevent any dust or debris from getting on it.
- If you’ve already cut your biscocho into pieces, store them in a single layer to prevent them from sticking together.
How Long Can You Store Biscocho?
Biscocho can last for up to two weeks if stored properly. However, it’s best to consume it within a week to ensure maximum freshness and flavor.
Other Filipino Delights Similar to Biscocho
Puto is a popular Filipino steamed rice cake that is often served during special occasions. It is made from rice flour, sugar, and water, and can be flavored with cheese, ube, or pandan. Puto is usually served with grated coconut or butter on top, and is a delicious and easy-to-learn recipe for those who want to try new Filipino dishes.
Ensaymada is a sweet and buttery Filipino pastry that is similar to brioche. It is made from a soft and fluffy dough that is topped with butter, sugar, and grated cheese. Ensaymada is often served as a breakfast or snack food, and is a popular treat during Christmas season. It is a must-try for those who love sweet and savory pastries.
Polvoron is a crumbly Filipino shortbread that is made from toasted flour, powdered milk, sugar, and butter. It is usually shaped into small rounds or ovals, and is often wrapped in colorful paper. Polvoron is a popular snack food in the Philippines, and is often given as a gift during special occasions. It is a delicious and easy-to-make recipe that is perfect for those who want to try new Filipino desserts.
Turon is a popular Filipino snack food that is made from sliced bananas and jackfruit, wrapped in spring roll wrappers, and deep-fried until crispy. It is often served with a sweet syrup or condensed milk, and is a delicious and easy-to-learn recipe for those who want to try new Filipino dishes. Turon is a perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors, and is a must-try for those who love fried desserts.
Halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert that is made from shaved ice, evaporated milk, and various sweet ingredients such as sweet beans, fruits, and jellies. It is often topped with a scoop of ice cream and is a refreshing treat during hot summer days. Halo-halo is a delicious and colorful dessert that is perfect for those who want to try new Filipino dishes.
Try out these similar dishes to biscocho and explore the delicious world of Filipino food!
So there you have it- everything you need to know about Filipino Biscocho. It’s a delicious snack that you can enjoy with your family, and it’s a great way to introduce new flavors to your kids. Plus, it’s pretty easy to make!
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.