Pianono with soft, pillowy sponge cake and creamy margarine and sugar filling. This Filipino-style jelly roll is mildly sweet and the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee.
Hi, it’s Bebs here again from Foxy Folksy and I am back with another delicious Filipino treat. This time we are making Pianono!
What is Pianono?
Pianono or Pionono is a type of pastry popular in Spain, South America, and the Philippines. It was named after the late Pope Pius IX or ‘Pio Nono’ as the good people of Italy called him, where the pope hailed. The original creator of Pionono, however, is from Santa Fe, Granada of Spain, Ceferino Ysla Gonzalez, who is a devotee of the Virgin Mary.
The story says that some years after Pope Pius IX proclaimed a dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Gonzalez decided to pay homage by creating these mini bite-size cakes shaped in the likeness of the Pope and of course named them after him as well.
The Filipino version
Similar to its Spanish and South American counterparts wherein bread or pastry dough is rolled around various fillings, the Filipino-style Pianono is a type of jelly roll consisting of a soft, pillowy sponge cake wrapped around a mixture of margarine and sugar. It’s also often adapted to include local flavors such as ube, mango, and mocha.
This Filipino cake roll is probably the most simple cake you can make. Aside from the simple filling of margarine and sugar, the original recipe requires only four ingredients, and that would be the eggs, flour, sugar, and milk.
We are, however, taking things up a notch with a splash of vanilla extract added to the batter and a dusting of powdered sugar as a final touch.
Now, you might be wondering why I added cornstarch to the list. The answer to that is because we want our Pianono to be soft and airy like it should be. Think of Mamon, and that should give you an idea of what texture we are aiming for.
Based on my own experience in baking cakes, the key to having a very light cake is to use cake flour instead of plain all-purpose flour. But since cake flour is not a pantry staple and I have cornstarch on hand more often than not, I’ve resorted to making my cake flour by replacing part of the all-purpose with cornstarch.
For those who are familiar with sponge cake recipes, you would have guessed that this recipe for Pianono involves making a meringue. I know, I know, some find the process of meringue a bit daunting, but rest assured that there is nothing to be afraid of, especially if you follow the tips below.
How to Make Meringue:
- Eggs are easier to separate when cold, but allow the egg whites to reach room temperature before whisking to create more volume.
- Use eggs that are fresh if possible, they might not create as much volume as older (3-5 day-old) eggs, but they make a more stable meringue.
- Make sure there is not a speck of grease of fat or even a smear of yolk in the whites will prevent the egg whites from foaming properly.
- For best results, use clean, grease-free bowls and whisk attachments. Use glass or metal bowls as plastic can have a greasy film that will keep the whites from whipping up to full volume.
- Avoid using high speed while whisking or beating the whites. As it incorporates more air and creates larger bubbles, it tends to deflate the meringue during or after baking.
Stages of whipping egg whites
As a guideline, here are visual examples of each step.
Frothy Stage-mixture is a foamy and cloudy liquid with large bubbles.
Soft Peaks Stage-egg whites have a slight sheen and fine-textured bubbles. Peaks begin to form when beaters are pulled from the foam but are too soft to hold shape.
Stiff Peaks Stage-mixture is glossy, thick, and very stiff. Peaks hold up straight without collapsing.
How to serve
- Slice into portions and serve for breakfast or midday snack with coffee, tea, or your favorite refreshment.
- To prevent the cake from drying out, transfer in an airtight container or wrap in cling wrap. Stored properly, it will keep at room temperature for up 3 days.
- For longer storage, freeze the cake in a sealed container to lock in moisture. Thaw at room temperature when ready to eat.
Want more delectable jelly roll treats? Try this brazo de Mercedes!
Pianono (Filipino Sponge Cake Roll)
- 5 pieces eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 stick margarine, softened
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Separate egg yolks from egg whites.
- In a bowl, beat the egg whites using a mixer at low speed for 1 minute or until frothy.
- Sprinkle the cream of tartar on top and continue beating until soft peaks form.
- Gradually add 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, a tablespoon at a time, while continuously beating. Once all sugar is added, turn up the speed to medium and continue beating the meringue until it forms stiff glossy peaks.
- In a large bowl, cream together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until it becomes light in texture and color.
- Sift the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and add to the egg yolk mixture. Mix well.
- Gently fold in a third of the meringue into the egg mixture and then add the rest and fold until well combined.
- Pour the batter into a 15x10x1-inch pan lined with wax or parchment paper.
- Bake in a 375 F oven for about 15 minutes or until the cake is golden.
- Remove from the oven and loosen the edges of the cake. Transfer the cake including the wax paper to a rack and allow to cool.
- Dust a wax or parchment paper with powdered sugar and invert cake onto the paper. Gently peel the other wax paper off the cake.
- Beginning with the narrow side, roll the cake up together with the wax paper. Let it cool down completely, seam side down, for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Once the cake has cooled, gently unroll and spread cake with softened margarine and sprinkle with granulated sugar and re-roll.
- Cut into 1-inch thick slices to serve.