You can tell that I was immensely bored during my 5-day cold hiatus last week. I don’t think a day passed by without me baking something, steaming something, or cooking something. Mind you there were a few family get togethers that required bringing a plate or two, but for the most part of it, I was just bored and wanted to do something productive instead of parking my already big backside infront of the telly (although there’s nothing wrong with that either!).
I have always been fascinated with Filipino baked sweets and desserts. Mum never cooked Filipino desserts except Leche Flan (creme caramel), and because all the sources of my Filipino food wisdom come from her, I never learned how to cook them either. I love Filipino desserts (who doesn’t?), but I’ve always had this notion that the recipes would be hard and tedious and just not for me.
However, during a visit to Mr J’s lola (grandma) in the hospital, we happened to land on the topic of Filipino desserts, mainly puto. Puto is a white steamed bun or cake, usually made of rice flour or plain flour, mixed with coconut milk or just plain milk, and comes in a variety of flavours: plain white, ube (purple yam), pandan (aromatic leaves mainly used in Southeast Asian cooking) and many others. Lola was sick of the hospital food, and she was telling us that more than anything else she wanted some puto. She even verbally gave me the family recipe, which I somehow forgot and I am blaming it on my Codral-filled brain.
So when I got home, I jumped on ye olde faithful internet, and found Oggi’s Puto Puti recipe. Simple, easy, and just the right Filipino dessert starter for me. I had to give it a go and bring it to Lola and get her tick of approval.
Putong Puti (White Puto)
Adapted from Oggi’s Puto Puti
Makes approximately 12 small buns/cakes
2 cups rice flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cups caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 tbsp water
Flavouring (eg extracts) or colouring, if desired
Tasty cheese, if desired.
- Prepare your steamer. Make sure the water is simmering. I put a tea towel on the lid just so the water that forms through condensation on the lid does not drop on the cakes (which will hinder it from rising). Butter your moulds/cups if they are not non-stick (does that make sense? I hope so!).
- In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
- Add milk and water.
- Mix until well combined. Add your flavouring or colouring if desired.
- Pour batter evenly on to moulds. I used these silicon moulds that I bought ages ago but had no use for until, well, these puto came along! I like cheese on my puto so I just sprinkled grated tasty cheese on top of the batter. Some will fall to the bottom of the mould which should be fine.
6. Steam cakes for about 20 minutes or until well risen. Remove from moulds and let stand for a couple of minutes.
7. Serve warm or with butter (if not using cheese!). Enjoy!
NOTE: Because rice flour was used, the texture of the puto hardened abit the morning after. Pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds or whichever setting you use in your microwaves (it has been freezing here in the land down under because it’s winter!), and they are good as new!
And the verdict? She (and all the aunts who were there when I came over) loves it! I’m glad my first Filipino dessert attempt wasn’t a total failure!