Piaya [pee-i-ah] is a Negrense delicacy and one of the many things I love about living in this part of the Philippines. It is a specialty of Bacolod in Negros Occidental.
That makes sense as Negros Island is known as the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines.
I am equally as fond of Eccles Cake, a delicacy originating in my native Lancashire, England.
What is Piaya?
Piaya is a muscovado-filled unleavened flatbread from the Philippines especially common in Negros Occidental where it originated. It is made by filling dough with a mixture of muscovado and glucose syrup. The filled dough is then flattened with a rolling pin, sprinkled with sesame seeds and baked on a griddle
It is delicious and ideal with coffee. I often eat it as my afternoon merienda. They are equally as yummy served hot or cold.
Courtesy of SBS.
300 g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted
50 g cold butter, chopped
220 g (1 cup) muscovado sugar
1 tbsp glucose syrup
35 g (¼ cup) sesame seeds
Place flour, 1 tsp salt and butter in a large bowl, then cut in with a knife. Make a well in the centre, add 160 ml iced water and stir until a dough forms. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth. Set aside.
Combine sugar and glucose syrup in a bowl, making sure there are no clumps as these can tear the dough.
Divide dough into 20 pieces. Flatten one piece with the palm of your hand, then place 2 tsp sugar mixture in the centre. Fold over edges to cover, then roll into a ball to seal, making sure there are no holes, to prevent sugar seeping out. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out into a 2 mm-thick round. Sprinkle sesame seeds on each side, then repeat with remaining dough, sugar mixture and sesame seeds to make 20 flatbreads.
Preheat a chargrill pan over medium–high heat and cook flatbreads, in batches, for 3 minutes each side or until golden and crisp. Serve piaya warm or cold.
Many of my Filipino family members and friends stare at me in bewilderment when I tell them that Piaya reminds me of Eccles Cakes from the UK. I was fond of them too.
What is an Eccles Cake?
An Eccles Cake , sometimes also called Squashed Fly cake is a small, round cake filled with currants and made from flaky pastry with butter, sometimes topped with demerara sugar. It originates from Eccles, Lancashire, England.
For the pastry
250g block cold butter
350g plain flour
juice ½ lemon
For the filling
50g mixed chopped peel
100g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp each of cinnamon
, ginger and ground allspice
zest of 1 lemon
and 1 orange, plus a few tbsp of orange juice
1 egg white, lightly beaten lightly crushed La Perruche sugar cubes (available at Waitrose, delis or online) or 3 tbsp preserving sugar
To make the pastry, dice the butter and put it in the freezer to go really hard. Tip flour into the bowl of a food processor with half the butter and pulse to the texture of breadcrumbs. Pour in the lemon juice and 100ml iced water, and pulse to a dough. Tip in the rest of the butter and pulse a few times until the dough is heavily flecked with butter. It is important that you don’t overdo this as the flecks of butter are what makes the pastry flaky.
On a floured surface roll the pastry out to a neat rectangle about 20 x 30cm. Fold the two ends of the pastry into the middle (See picture 1), then fold in half (pic 2). Roll the pastry out again and refold the same way 3 more times resting the pastry for at least 15 mins each time between roll and fold, then leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 mins before using.
To make the filling, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Take it off the heat and stir in all the other ingredients until completely mixed, then set aside.
To make the cakes, roll the pastry out until it’s just a little thicker than a £1 coin and cut out 8 rounds about 12cm across. Re-roll the trimming if needed. Place a good heaped tablespoon of mixture in the middle of each round, brush the edges of the rounds with water, then gather the pastry around the filling and squeeze it together (pic 3). Flip them over so the smooth top is upwards and pat them into a smooth round. Flatten each round with a rolling pin to an oval until the fruit just starts to poke through, then place on a baking tray. Cut 2 little slits in each Eccles cakes, brush generously with egg white and sprinkle with the sugar (pic 4).
Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 8. Bake the Eccles cakes for 15-20 mins until just past golden brown and sticky. Leave to cool on a rack and enjoy while still warm or cold with a cup of tea. If you prefer, Eccles cakes also go really well served with a wedge of hard, tangy British cheese such as Lancashire or cheddar.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, October 2010
BBC Good Food magazine
Both are delicious and similar in taste. The winner? A technical KO to piaya as I get more chance to eat them than the Eccles Cake 🙂
Featured Image: Courtesy of Kguirnela
Just imagine Eccles Cake! Eccles is a place on earth I have a connection to. My mother kept in contact with her friend Josephine through more than 60 years. She happened to live close to Eccles and I have been there many times to visit and to stay also. I don’t remember the cake though
You missed a treat by not having the Eccles Cake! I dare say if you had tried it then you would have remembered it. The originals were made in a bakery in Church Street, Eccles.
Those cold chunks of butter are the key! Many croissants – in Montreal, where they’re everywhere (it being the Paris of North America) – fail because the baker probably rolled the the dough so much that it got warm, melted the butter, and made a spongy rather than FLAKY pastry. Then again, many places get it very, very right…