"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

A Filipina's unabashed chronicle of her adaptations in the American kitchen. Includes step-by-step photos on how to make pan de sal, ensaymada, pan de coco, siopao, hopia, pandelimon, pianono, atsara, crema de fruta,etc., and if you are lucky, you will find videos too!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hopia Dough (2/3)

Ube Hopia

Photo above shows the very first homemade hopia I sunk my teeth into.

As promised, I am posting here today the dough for hopia. Thanks to these two recipes that gave me the idea on how to make this pinoy favorite snack that I have missed so much. When my older son tried it, he said that the dough was very much like that of the eng bee tin hopiang ube that I made him taste several days ago, but I noticed the big difference in taste because of 100% ube haleya I used here (the bought one just did not taste quite like the hopiang ube I used to buy back in the Philippines. I don't know if eng bee tin has changed their recipe). The only thing is that the underside is quite thick because of several layers of dough, but it was not too bad once baked.

Just like in one of the above links, I used lard in making the dough. But I used my homemade pork lard. My Nanay has taught me how to render the fat of some meat to use for sauteeing, and I learned how to render my own pork lard when I came to the US. Others might say "ew!" but nothing beats pork lard when it comes to flaky pie crust. Besides, it is very mildly sweet scented with the flavor of pork fat, it is so subtle and pleasant. Every year, I make this after our pig has been slaughtered, so I know where the pork came from, how it was raised, what it ate during its lifetime. In other words, my pork source would be the envy of a lot of real food foodies. You want to question the health implications for this? Here is a quote coming from my previous correspondence with fanatic, a nutritionist by profession.

My opinion about pastry ... there's nothing better than lard for making pastry (with a little butter for flavor). Lard is almost 100 percent fat, where butter is only about 80 percent fat, the other 20 percent is protein and moisture. Butter's moisture (water) makes it a poor choice for pastry (when used exclusively), since water will form gluten when it comes in contact with flour ... making the final product chewy instead of flaky.

I stay away from vegetable shortening. Even though it has about the same fat content as lard (making flaky pastry), the trans fatty acids from the process of hydrogenation are now supposedly more of a health concern than the saturated fat in lard. Shortening is pretty tasteless too.

The lard I can purchase here, believe it or not, is hydrogenated. It also contains BHA and BHT (known carcinogens) as preservatives. It's hardly a product I would consume. You deserve a pat on the back for rendering your own lard!Just yesterday I purchased a new product. It's an organic non-hydrogenated shortening, made from palm oil. Palm oil is very saturated naturally, so it's more solid at room temperature.

Another benefit of using animal fat (lard) for use in cooking ... it has a high smoking point so you can brown with it and it will not break down (oxidize). Most vegetable-based liquid oils cannot be exposed to high temperatures without oxidizing, and oxidized (rancid) fat is carcinogenic. And as your Nanay says ... fresh lard tastes better. I think you need to weigh the costs and benefits of the fat you plan on using.In the end, as long as you eat in moderation and are relatively active in life, I don't believe small amounts of animal fat are deleterious.

With that said, I present to you my recipe for a special hopia dough (I have a hunch that the same practice is done by hopia makers in the Philippines.) If you want, you may use shortening or vegetable lard. If you are interested to make your own, feel free to approach the butcher in your grocery store to inquire. They might even give this to you for free. You can freeze pork lard to keep them fresh longer. Thaw in the fridge when you are about to use. I also use it nowadays for making pie crusts, instead of vegetable shortening.

Dough 1:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup pork lard

Mix together until crumbly (or it appears like coarse meal). Use your hands.
Divide into 4.

Dough 2:
Mix together until crumbly (same as in dough 1):
2 cups flour + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup pork lard

Once thoroughly mixed, add 1/2 cup water to the above and mix with your hand. Divide into four. This dough is not really sticky compared to my pie crust dough, but the principles are almost the same.

Once the two are ready, proceed as follows for each part of the two types of dough (which you now have 4 of each):

Use cling wrap above and under dough 2 to make it easier to maneuver. Flatten with rolling pin and shape into a rectangle. Distribute dough 1 above. Roll the two together. Wrap tightly with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Note: The contact of water in the above mixture will result to gluten formation. Gluten is what makes dough pliable and chewy. The rest time is necessary for the full development of gluten and making this dough more pliable come rolling and wrapping time. Chilling ensures that dough 1 remains physically "unmixed" with dough 2 despite proximity. The flour+lard (or flour+oil or flour+shortening) in between sheets of flat glutinous dough will create air pockets in between the sheets during baking and the results is hopia pastry with very thin flaky "crust" which is not at all crunchy or hard.

[You might be wondering why I have gloves on. Since working as an RN, I have developed dishidrosis, aka "homemaker's hands" and for me, I can very well call it "nurse's hands" because this condition develops when the hands are subjected to frequent handwashing. My skin gets tiny blisters that itch a lot, then turn flaky and super dry, then they crack and it's ouch! So I try to avoid washing my hands as much as possible. Using gloves and washing them instead of my skin helps me avoid exposure to too much handwashing, especially if I want my cracks to heal before my next duty at the hospital. It's not because I am too particular about "cleanliness" when cooking or baking. It's merely to protect my hands. Baka sabihin nyo, ang arte ko. Hindi no!]

Final post will be wrapping the filling and baking your hopia, coming up next.


  1. Hi Manang! Ang sarap naman nakakatakam! Parang d ko kaya gawin. Hanggang filling lang kaya ko gawin. hehehe!!! Sana pwede nalang bumili sayo. Parang mas masarap pa yan sa Eng Bee Tin e. Pwede ka na magka-show sa Food Network! Im so impressed!

  2. Thanks, Manang, especially for the information regarding pork lard. You had commented on one of my posts that I was giving you too much credit for being a kitchen wonder but it seems to me that you're even more incredible!! You cook, bake, can & preserve, and now I find out you render your own pork lard. I'll keep coming back to learn!

  3. Hi Donna,
    Anything you have not done before seems daunting, but the key is just to do it. Once you have tried and come up with good results, you will say to yourself, "madali lang naman pala." I often found out during my "first" times that a lot of the seemingly complex things were not really that complex, if you pay attention to the procedure, tips and warnings. Baking is pretty much like cooking. Both have their sciences. Both have a measures of proportion but not too strict. I am sure if you were born around baking adults, you probably would also tend to "play-doh."
    For real easy yet superb results, try my supersoft ensaymada. Don't bother to shape. Just place into greased muffin tins pieces of dough half the size of the tins, let rise, then bake. The top with butter and sugar. Then tell me what's hard with that once you have bitten into the heavenly softness of the ensaymada.
    Once you get encouraged to doing this, you will want to do more challenging ones...I promise!

  4. TN,
    I used to feel that my readers might shy away from my blog if they learn I am doing things such as making pork lard from homegrown pig, growing my tomatoes and canning them, etc. The more elite society might turn up their noses because I do not buy high-end brands of butter and what-not...but I do feel blessed to be in a situation where getting the most natural and healthy food products is quite easy and cheap (others travel far and pay a lot to get organic eggs; I get them free from my in-laws).
    I am just glad for the increasing trend in getting to know your food source better. I am also glad that still many Filipinos are so bound up by tradition that they do not rely much on mixes and frozen prepared foods.
    Anyway, teaching others what I am learning about has always been one of the goals of my food blog, and I am glad you have found some value here. :)

  5. Kumusta Ka Manang,
    Being born in the P.I, came to the U.S by 9yrs. I was old enough to remember the food and of course yearn for it. I have done alot of the deserts but the hopia is a first. I use coconut oil alot and am thinking that I could use this for the pastry. Have you ever used it. It makes a very flaky pie crust. Tell me what you think.For the ube filling Is there a recipe?

  6. Hi Jan,
    Welcome to my site!
    I have not used coconut oil, but that is a brilliant idea to use it for a pie crust! I especially love the inherent sweetness of coconut oil and of course, the flavor is superb!

    For the ube filling, I used the basic ube haleya that I previously made.

  7. wicked sick!

  8. Anonymous,
    wicked sick what? the pork lard?
    Are you so far removed from the natural food sources?
    Do you even know the process your most eaten foods go through?
    I suggest you read the book "Omnivore's Dilemma" by Micahel Pollan to know more about the natural history of your food.

  9. hi manang.. can I use baking flour for making dough? Thanks!

  10. hi,manang.muslim po kasi ako.kaya kung pwede nyo akong bigyan ng advice regarding pork lard.ano po ang pwedeng ipalit instead para sa pag-gawa ng hopia dough.

  11. hi anonymous,
    vegetable shortening ang gamitin mo.

  12. very impormative itong site mo.nag try ako ng supersoft ensaymada yesterday,nagustuhan ng hubby ko.i used dates fillings.maraming salamat manang.

  13. You are so welcome, anonymous! Etong hopia ba ang susunod mo ita-try?

  14. manang,
    you are the woman i've been looking for.
    will you marry me?

  15. Anonymous,
    Di papasa sa akin ang mga unknown... :)

  16. Hi Manang,
    Love ur site...first time ko mag-bake and I will try to follow your instructions given to make "supersoft ensaymada"..request ng hubby ko..wish me luck..and thank u...

  17. HI Anonymous,
    Don't forget to sprinkle generously with flour if it is too sticky.
    Best of luck!

  18. Eng Bee Tin Ube hopia has artificial food colors and is banned by US FDA under import alert 45-02 per web page :\

    Artificial food colors are derived from coal tar.

  19. Hi juanitosee,
    Thanks for the info...although I am not sure what prompted you to post that comment here.

  20. hi po manang,
    I try to do this recipe,ask ko lang po sna if may pwede pa po bang ibang pwedeng i subtitute sa pork lard?Thanks for the post.

    Pls.reply to my email mhai_friends65@yahoo.com

    1. You can use vegetable lard or shortening as sub.

  21. meron po bang video ng hopia ung step by step po thank you po

    1. Hi Manang,

      I would like to try this too but I am so afraid that I might mess up big time! Where do you add the 1/2 water - to Dough 1 or to Dough 2?
      I wish you have a video on this so we can follow the recipe better. I love your site though! More power to you and thanks for sharing all your recipes!
      If you have time, however, would appreciate if could send reply to my query via email at: josvebben@msn.com
      Thank you so much

      Josie B

    2. Hi Josie,
      Sorry I don't have the patience and that much time to fiddle with video. I hope the photos will help, though.
      Dough 1 is actually "Oil Dough" and Dough 2 is "Water Dough," so that the 1/2 c water is added to dough 2.

  22. hello this is jane..ask ko lang po kong ung inilagay nyu na dough 1 sa loob ng dough 2 after that ba mamasahin ba ulit pag kagaling sa ref? salamat po in advance..


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