Bicho-Bicho is the classic Filipino doughnut and is the usual snack of the children playing in the streets during the 2000s. It is made with soft and fluffy bread which is fried. The most distinct characteristic of a bicho-bicho is that it is a bread literally coated with sugar. It is available in almost every local bakery anywhere in the country. It is generally sweet, with the sugar layering your mouth with some kick of sweetness. Bicho-bicho may come in different shapes and sizes. New versions of this snack have cheese and chocolate in it. Some people enhance the sugar coating by using cinnamon sugar.
Bicho-Bicho was my childhood snack. I remember my favorite vendor knocking at our doors every 3 in the afternoon while I play with my cousins to offer us some bicho-bicho and pilipit. I was a “suki”, that’s what you call a regular customer, so I can request the vendor to give me extra sugar for my bicho-bicho. What’s interesting with the bicho-bicho I grew up with is that the vendor surprises his customers with a new shape of bicho-bicho almost every day. I remember eating a classic doughnut with a hole one, a square one, a circle one and the most lovely for me, the heart-shaped one. I and my cousins always rush to our parents to go get some money to buy bicho-bicho.
Now, I have no idea where that vendor is and my idea of bicho-bicho also changed through time. New bicho-bicho vendors roam our community to sell the so-called “new version” of bicho-bicho filled with cheese or chocolate. They were also rectangular in shape. I love the cheese-filled one, if I would admit. But the classic bicho-bicho will always remain in my heart.
My niece and I were talking about food one day and I mentioned about my favorite heart-shaped bicho-bicho. I described it as a simple doughnut coated with sugar. Her reaction was “Oh, so like the Krispy Kreme one?” She had no idea on what a bicho-bicho was which caused me to search for bicho-bicho recipe and make one at home.
Cooking bicho-bicho is easy. The only struggle I had was with the kneading because I have weak arms during that time and the kneading process was really tough. Other than that, everything was fine. As soon as I took a bite from my bicho-bicho, my childhood memories flashed back.
HOW TO MAKE BICHO-BICHO
Preparing the bicho-bicho dough will take you a lot of time, patience and arm strength. First, you prepare a bowl with warm milk. Add some sugar in it. Then, add the active dry yeast. Mix it well and stir until it becomes foamy. The active dry yeast has been used as a natural leavening agent by bakers for centuries. The active dry yeast is actually a type of fungi. But do not be scared, it would not give you a disease. An active dry yeast starts the process of fermentation which makes the resulting bread fluffy and soft. This fermentation process can be manifested with the doubling of the size of the dough while resting. But the active dry yeast first must be fed with sugar before it can start working on its magic. This is why you prepare a warm milk with sugar with the active dry yeast.
In a separate large mixing bowl, pour the all-purpose flour and salt. Add the yeast and milk mixture, egg and softened butter. Mix the ingredients well until fully-blended. Add some flour on top of the dough and then start kneading. When the dough is already not sticking on the sides of the bowl, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap. Set it aside for an hour and let the active dry yeast do its magic.
After an hour, you will notice that the dough doubled its size. The fermentation process caused the formation of air inside the dough, making the resulting bread fluffy. Dust a clean, flat space with flour and knead the dough again for about 5 minutes. The final dough must be soft but firm. Pour some flour on top of the dough and then flatten it using a rolling pin. In this stage, you can shape the dough however you like. In this recipe, I used the classic doughnut with a hole shape. Since the dough is sticky, one way to maintain its shape while working on other pieces is to lay the dough in a baking pan lined with wax paper. Cover the baking pan with a cloth and let it ferment for another 20 minutes. You will notice that dough will rise again.
Heat a sauce pan and pour some oil for deep-frying. For a peaceful frying experience, I recommend to individually cut the wax paper and fry the dough with the wax paper. The side where the wax paper is must be down. Do not worry about the wax paper, it is heat-tolerant and would not burn. Fry the doughnut until the side with the wax paper is cooked. Remove the wax paper and continue frying. Flip the other side of the doughnut until both of the sides are golden brown. Transfer the cooked doughnuts in a strainer to drain excess oil. Before the doughnuts become completely dry of oil, coat the doughnuts with sugar or any coatings you like. Serve and enjoy!
Since this is a basic bicho-bicho doughnut recipe, try decorating your bicho-bicho. Glaze it with chocolate, add some sprinkles, or dip it in chocolate. Have fun preparing and eating our very own bicho-bicho.
3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 medium-sized egg
2 tablespoons oil (softened butter or cooking oil)
¼ teaspoon salt
- In a bowl, pour the warm milk and then add sugar and active dry yeast. Mix well. Let it sit at least 5 minutes until foamy.
- In a large mixing bowl, put the flour, salt and mix well. Add the yeast mixture. Add the egg and mix well. Use hands to mix better. Add the softened butter. Add some flour while kneading. Continue kneading until the dough does not stick to the mixing bowl. Cover the mixing bowl with a plastic wrap or cloth and allow to rest for 1 hour.
- After an hour, the dough will increase in size. Dust the space with some flour. Lay the dough and knead for 5 minutes. Drizzle some more flour on the top of the dough and flatten it using a rolling pin. Cut it in any shape you want. Remove excess dough.
- Line a baking tray with wax paper and place the flat shaped dough. Cover the baking pan with cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- After resting, the dough will increase in size. The flat dough has now expanded. To help you maintain the shape of the dough, you may just cut the wax paper for the individual doughnut pieces.
- Heat some oil for deep frying. Fry the doughnuts. You can opt not to remove the wax paper because it wont burn. After a minute of frying, the bottom part of the doughnut is slightly cooked and the wax paper can easily be removed. Fry each side of the doughnut until golden brown. Place in a strainer or on a tissue paper to drain excess oil.
- When dry, coat with sugar or any coating you prefer.
- Serve warm and enjoy.