Episode 33 – Puto, Filipino Steamed Cake

Episode 33
January 16, 2011
Puto, Filipino Steamed Cake

If you saw my previous post on Puto, A study then you already know a lot about my frustrations with this recipe.  For one, I was always raised believing this was a steamed rice cake but it turns out there isn’t a speck of rice flour in it.  In addition, it was one of those recipes I had to find and research myself despite having a Filipino mother.  My sister shared in this frustration so I dedicate this episode and the next episode (coming next week) on kutsinta to her.

If you didn’t happen to read my other post on puto (I recommend that you do, I think it’s interesting… but I would since I wrote it) then let me go ahead and describe puto for you.  Puto is a muffin-like pastry that’s very popular in the Philippines.  It’s has a mild, sweet, dough-like flavor that appeals to most people and because it’s so plain it goes great with almost all dishes, savory and sweet, and is particularly great with barbecue.  In fact, puto-pao is a dish that has meat in the middle of it, similar to Chinese pork buns.  Puto is a very dense dough so don’t expect it to be as light as a pork bun though.  It’s relatively easy to make puto-pao by putting cooked meat into the middle of the batter before steaming.  If all goes well, the puto will rise above and around the meat – as opposed to just rise upward and pushing it out.  It is also common for puto to have cheddar or a similar cheese on top, usually baked in during the last 5 minutes of the steaming process.  I personally can’t stand it when puto has cheese on top, but some people just love it.

Traditional puto has a flavoring added called pandan.  It is a leafy plant and is very common in Asian cooking.  Pandan has a deep nutty and earthy flavor.  Pandan is mostly used in rice dishes or dishes with coconut.  If you can find natural extract grab it while you can.  It seems that it sells like hotcakes.  The artificial flavoring is almost always available.  Both are available in Asian markets, especially Filipino markets.  If you don’t have pandan or don’t want to use it, vanilla extract works just as well.

One important point I should bring up is that even though puto is steamed, if it soaks up water shortly after the steaming process it will be ruined – oh the irony.  So make sure that after you remove your puto from the steamer, if any water has collected in the cups that you dump it out as soon as you can.  If it is allowed to seep in, you’ll get this mushy ball of goop that is edible but unbelievably unpleasant to eat.  It’s like eating a sponge, every gushy bit bursts with water and the mild flavor is reduced to bland and tasteless.  For the love of puto, don’t let your puto sit in water!

Anyways, the recipe is extremely easy to make (after all it’s nothing more than pancake batter) and steams in just under 25 minutes so I definitely recommend trying it!  Here is the recipe for puto, Filipino steamed cake, and enjoy the video below.  Thanks for watching!

*Update: My dog just loves puto!  I don’t know if it’s necessarily a healthy treat but considering the recipe isn’t anything more than pancake batter I’m sure it couldn’t do much harm!  Thought I would share : )

*UPDATE (2/25/12): A few more experiments have revealed that using coconut milk instead of evaporated milk makes them extra light and fluffy.  Though they don’t have the perfect dome shape the flavor and texture is amazing.  Here’s a picture I took with my phone.

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Posted in Asian Inspired, Cake
20 comments on “Episode 33 – Puto, Filipino Steamed Cake
  1. crystal says:

    hi! im so glad to know that you’re half filipino (never thought of it until i saw your post about puto & kutsinta). also tried doing puto when i was a teenager, i wanted it to taste like the authentic one (one that’s made with ground rice flour) but was too intimidated by the process (they say that batter must be left overnight for the fermented flavor to develop). so i decided to use a pancake mix instead, haha!

    anyway i find your site very helpful, its even better than the expensive professional baking books i bought :) im an engineering graduate who dreams about baking and loves eating cakes :) thanks for sharing :)

    • Thanks Crystal! That’s a huge complement!! I work really hard to share what I know about my passion because I know people have the same questions I have about baking and pastry and food science. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them!!

  2. Tara says:

    I have been trying to identify and find a recipe for white, fluffy Filipino cakes that I had at a work potluck when I was living in Seattle a few years ago. Even if I went back to the hospital where I was working, I wouldn’t remember which of the many nurses brought them so I’ve just been searching the Internet any time I’ve thought of it for the past couple years. This is the first time I’ve found something that looks like the amazing fluffy cake I had then and I am SO excited to try making puto! (Just as soon as I get a steamer.) :P Thank you so much!

  3. Bernabeth says:

    Hi, I’m also a Filipino. Here in the Philippines, puto can be made in different ways. You can use all purpose flour, rice flour and I think the authentic puto was made using galapong (soaked rice flour). Also, coconut milk is used instead of evap milk. Aside from cheese, salted duck eggs could be added on top. I like to eat my puto with with salted duck eggs because the saltiness of the eggs balances the sweetness of the puto. Here, puto is best paired with dinuguan (a blood stew). Thanks for sharing this dish. Have you tried bibingka? Its a rice cake traditionally sold during Christmas Season.

    • @Bernabeth – I could never keep my puto risen when using rice flour – but maybe I need to try a hybrid mixture. I’ve been told that puto just isn’t puto without a slice of quick melt cheddar cheese on top but I figure that’s a customization that the baker can choose to use when they make it. My sister told me that puto is really popular with dinuguan so it’s nice to hear somebody confirm it. I have tried bibingka – bibingka is my sister’s favorite. I should look into making an episode with it! Thank you for commenting!

  4. Ma. Theresa Ramirez says:

    sir, can u please send on my email the exact measurents by cups, i dont understand it by ounces, thank you for this very informative video.

  5. Bernabeth says:

    I discuss this recipe with my mom. She said maybe the rice flour you used is an ordinary rice flour. According to her, the rice used in making puto is called “malagkit” or glutinous rice. So I think using glutinous rice flour would make it rice more. Hope this helps.

    • @Bernabeth – I think glutinous rice flour needs to be prepared in some way before it can make puto. If you use it just as it is it turns into mochi out of the steamer. From what I’ve been seeing online it sounds like authentic puto is turned into galapong then allowed to ferment for a day or two. While that does sound like something I want to do in the future, I want to make puto accessible to anybody – plus I just know my mother would never fool around with a recipe that took several days to complete. When I get around to experimenting some more I’ll post more info on here : )

  6. Gino says:

    I have been looking for puto recipes all over but was unable to look for one that is easy to do, for the reason that I would like to incorporate ube (purple yam) which we have a lot in our backyard into putong ube. I resorted to looking for recipes in Youtube and your video was the first one. I was surprised how easy the batter is to make, making me think of ways how to add ube into it. I will be trying your recipe. :)

    By the way, great to know that you are half-filipino. I’m Filipino, a registered nurse who has a baker’s soul inside. Haha. Keep on blogging and posting videos. I will be following your posts! (I’m going to try your eclairs/creampuffs recipe as well) ;)

    • @Gino – Wow! I can’t believe I’m the first one to pop up in YouTube – that’s pretty amazing. Puto nowadays is really easy to make. If you do a little digging online you find out it actually was a huge process because they used galapong. When I was learning how to make puto I had a hard time because my mom was so non-specific about the recipe (oh just throw this together until it looks like pancake batter) and I don’t bake like that at all! I bet it would be easy to add ube but you may have to adjust the recipe as you go along. That’s another thing I like about this recipe – it’s so easy to adjust, customize, and try new ingredients! And if the experiment fails, the ingredients are so inexpensive it doesn’t matter quite as much.

      I’m so glad you like my blog and my videos!! Good luck on the eclairs and cream puffs! Thank you for commenting!

  7. Rhenee says:

    Brilliant approach to your demystification crusade – loved the conversion tables, the persuasive demonstration of why weighing ingredients is the Way To Go, and the generous sprinkling of apt reminders and background info. Can’t say I am happy with my first try of the puto but the kutsinta really worked beautifully (confession: had to make do with ingredients on hand so plenty of unwise substitutions there) – the lihiya substitute from baking soda is so neat I am inspired to consider doing suman sa lihiya after conquering the puto challenge. Thank you ever so much.

  8. Grace Lopez-Gingoyon says:

    I would like to try this recipe with coconut milk, should I use the same quantity as the evaporated milk? thanks!

  9. natzsm says:

    I have been a lurker in your site for over a year now and been wanting to try your puto recipe but problem is, I have been disappointed way too many times with puto recipes that i have actually given up. I have tried making puto with all purpose flour, cake flour, a combination of cake and all purpose flour and rice flour but have always failed to achieve the exact texture I am looking for.

    Yesterday, I attended a friend’s party and he served puto matched with pansit palabok-a perfect pinoy snack combination and WOW the PUTO was delicious. Not exactly the “makunat” texture I am searching for but better if not the best puto I have tasted using ordinary flour coupled with an uncomplicated easy to follow recipe. Believe me there are recipes out there where one has to separate the yolks from the whites (I find that step outrageous and complicated for something so simple as puto) so I just had to ask for the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised when my friend told me he got the recipe from your site. I have seen your actual demo video a couple of times before but never attempted to make it on my own.

    I already promised myself to make your puto for my Mom’s birthday next month, but instead of using evaporated milk will make mine with your updated recipe using coconut milk.

    I simlply love your puto! YUMYUM!

    • This is probably one of the coolest comments I received in a while! It’s nice to see my analytics say people visit my site but it’s wayyy more awesome when people talk about it in real life.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences!

      I know exactly how you feel. My mother would make puto (and kutsinta) when I was a kid and I was never able to make them the way she did. It took me years – almost a decade actually – to finally figure out a recipe comparable to hers. Why didn’t I just use hers? Because her recipe was – a little of this, a little of that, stir, steam and bam magic. Yeah about that…

      And absolutely use coconut milk! The texture is out of this world! It loses its fluffiness if it’s stored in the fridge but I think you’ll agree with me it is rare that there is ever any puto leftover ;)

  10. Eddie says:

    Original puto recipe is made with rice flour and not glutinous rice flour, you need a rice flour that is not sticky when cooked, to achieve that fluffy rice and we also ferment our batter to enhance the texture and flavor of puto.

  11. Pam says:

    Hi Chef,
    Would it be possible if you can teach us how to make a pork steamed bun? It is called Siopao in the Philippines or Char Siu Bao in China or Salapao in Thailand, or Pau in Hongkong. Thank you.
    best regards,

    • Sure! I’ve heard that you should be able to just put a piece of barbecue in the dough before steaming and should work but I’ve never tried it. I love steamed pork buns from Chinese Dim Sum and I’ve been dying to try the recipe I have! This sounds like the perfect time to try it!

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "Episode 33 – Puto, Filipino Steamed Cake"
  1. [...] like the previous episode’s puto, is a very popular Filipino dessert.  Kutsinta however, is less likely to appeal to a wide range of people because of it’s very [...]

  2. [...] views The Juicy Couture Cake – 5,220 views White Chocolate Mousse Cake – 3,161 views Puto, Filipino Steamed Cake – 3,027 views Chocolate Mousse Cake – 1,775 [...]

  3. [...] using silicone cupcake molds that have been well-greased with shortening.  I used them in the puto and kutsinta episodes too.  You can find them in kitchen supply stores – I got mine at bed [...]

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