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Friday, October 30, 2009

Puto (Steamed Cakes)

My dad's official birthday party was this past weekend, which meant an explosion of cooking at my parents house. I ended up being responsible for making the puto, which are steamed cakes. Traditionally puto is made with various forms of rice, but my mom goes by another recipe that doesn't use rice at all. She has written down in her battered Filipino cookbook that she's had since she first moved to the US. Her recipe is I think really more for convenience, since it was probably hard to find rice flour back in the 70's and 80's.

Because the cooking method for these delicious cakes is steaming, you need to use the appropriate baking tools- silicone and plastic (even though plastic is sketchy, it's much better than metal). We make puto in small plastic medicine cups. It's the perfect size, and clean up/storage are easy peasy. Just like cupcakes, I have still yet to perfect the right amount, but I think with puto it doesn't matter as much. You just eat them, not critique its look before consuming.

I prefer my puto plain, but both my mom and aunt insisted I add cheese to some batches. Not wanting to fight a cheese request, I readily complied. I also went ahead and colored some batches, to give it a fiesta feel. Unfortunately I didn't have that much food coloring left, so there was only white, blue-ish, and orange-ish.

As for steamers, you can use your rice cooker, buy a big steamer (you should pick one that has at least two trays. Does anyone know if the Asian supermarket on Central sells steamers? I know definitely in Chinatown... I've been eying a few restaurant sized models), or do the makeshift steamer method.

Another upside to using the medicine cups is you can tell when the puto is cooked all the way through. You can't see in the picture, but these were just about finished.

This is what it should look like when it's done. Don't forget to grease the baking containers so you don't have issues removing. I normally don't spray the cups because they're flexible enough for me to take them out in one piece.


phairhead said...

they look gorgeous and tasty!

Michael Janairo said...

Great images of one of my favorite foods, Puto!

When I was a kid (I'm half-pinoy), I mistakenly thought the cakes were called "puta" and once asked my lola and aunties for more puta -- some were horrified, others laughed.

By the way, I run the @timesunionarts twitter account and wanted to say thanks for putting me on a list.

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