A reader asked me before for the recipe, and I searched and recommended one that seemed promising. If I remember it right, it was this recipe by blueapron. While my outcome was good, it was not exactly how I remember it, or maybe it was my lack of skills in making it that made it different. For one thing, the filling crystallized and hardened after cooling (should still remain gooey and the whole piaya should remain a bit pliable still). Second, I had holes because it was quite hard to flatten the disk without making holes...I probably should have used bread flour and a little bit more water to come up with stronger dough. Don't get me wrong; the outcome was good. And I think I can remedy some issues with my notes below.
However, after my kids and hubby tasted it and liked it as is, I think I am going to stick to the recipe. So, thanks, blueapron!
My apologies for posting about something that I tried only for the first time. Read my notes below before you proceed to see if you would like to experiment some more. This one is time-consuming (like most Filipino delicacies are), and I don't think I will try to experiment again anytime soon.
Also, I have a video of these, but I really don't have the time to edit them and make into a video worthwhile of your viewing time, so please bear with the photos. The written instructions should be clear enough to guide you.
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick; 1/4 lb)
1/4 cup + 1 to 2 tbsp water
250 gm muscovado sugar (I used 1 tbsp per dough ball, so roughly around 20 tbsp)
1 cup of sesame seeds (you will most probably have leftovers)
Divide into twenty pieces (I measure about 18-20 gm per dough ball). Roll to flatten using rolling pin. Measure sugar (1 tbsp if you want it sweet; use less if you don't) and compact that (by pushing the sugar against the spoon with your thumbs) before placing at the middle of the flattened dough (so that it does not crumble right away as soon as you fold the edges over the sugar). Gather edges together and pinch. Flatten a bit with your palm. Dunk in sesame seeds and press slightly for the seeds to adhere. Transfer to countertop and flatten carefully with the rolling pin. Keep covered in plastic until ready to cook.
Heat a nonstick pan on low. Lightly brown one side then flip. Some sugar may ooze out. Wipe the pan to remove excess sugar and sesame seeds before proceeding with the next batch. Cool completely on wire rack then place in ziploc bag.
Notes: Some of the commenters at blueapron's said the piaya filling was supposed to still be gooey even when cooled and not return to crystallized form. I tend to agree with that. Probably for experiments, you might want to try adding a little bit of water and flour or cornstarch or tapioca, just like in Ferna's website. The purpose for the water is to dissolve the flour/starch/tapioca while cooking, and act as colloidal glue for the caramelizing sugar, so that come cooling time, instead of crystallizing, the caramelized sugar will stay in the colloid mixture and not re-crystallize, hopefully resulting to the gooey consistency that stays like paste.
Cherry made a comment below to share her version which avoids crystallization of the sugar. Here's what she had to say:
Hi Manang! This is my first time to comment on your blog..my first time to visit your blog was yesterday when i was searching for ensaimada and cinnamon rolls recipe. However when I came to this piaya recipe, i got interested enough to try this first. I however made some adjustments, especially with the filling as i noted your concern that there was crystallization. So here's my final recipe I'd like to share with you:
2 cups AP Flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar which i used as I had no muscovado sugar available today
1 tsp honey mix to the sugar( to prevent crystallization, you can also use molasses to add more flavor)
Mix shortening and flour til crumbly (use hands to better mix it in) then add water and knead til soft. divide into 18 small balls,
Flatten a ball into thin circle (you can just use your hand to flatter)put in center small amount of sugar with the honey/molasses, cover with another flattened sheet, seal at edges somewhat like a pie, be careful to flatten to remove air pockets, cook over non stick skillet or pan til you get browned spots or surfaces, some sugar may also ooze out.
I took some pics but was not able to upload..they look very much like the original piayas, only softer and crisper on the outside. Hope your readers try this!
I will be trying out the ensaimada and cinnamon rolls for this christmas and will give you feedback soon! Thanks!