Wednesday, September 19, 2012

puto with cheese

Puto is a steamed rice cake popular in the Philippines.  It is usually round-shaped and comes in bite-size and cupcake-size, topped with cheese or salted egg or with shredded coconut on the side.  It is also a favorite pair to a savory dish known as dinuguan.  It can be served as a snack or dessert, infused with different flavors with colors to match e.g. purple puto (ube-flavored), green puto (pandan-flavored) or the usual white puto (buttered) topped with cheese.

While puto is so easy to make, your major challenge is getting the bamboo steamer and plastic puto molds.  I already have a bamboo steamer but where, oh where, can i buy plastic puto molds?

Back in May, I experimented on using two alternatives to the traditional plastic molds:  silicone baking molds i got from World Market ($2.49/set of 6 regular size; $2.49/dozen of mini cups) and stainless-steel condiment cups (2.5 oz) from Walmart (less than $1 for a set of 4).  Here's the comparison:

The only visible difference is the size and shape.  The ones i made using the stainless-steel condiment cups are much taller and slimmer while the ones from the colorful silicone cups are shaped like a regular muffin/cupcake with pretty ridges on the side.  While they tasted the same, i personally prefer the silicone cups. 

From then on i've been making puto using the silicone baking molds in both mini- and regular sizes. I have about 4 dozens of these molds so i don't have to hurriedly remove the puto, wash the molds and use them again.   It's also best to remove the puto from the molds after they have cooled completely.

Here's a simple recipe i adapted from Panlasang Pinoy.  This makes a LOT of puto so i usually just use half of the ingredients.  Even that is more than enough for my family of three.

I've also tried using puto mix i got from the Filipino/Asian store and tasted just as good. Just follow the directions in the box and add cheese.

  • 4 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 cups sugar, sifted
  • 2 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • pandan essence (optional)
  • 1 piece egg, raw
  • small slices of cheese (i use Kraft American Singles sliced in strips)
  • water for steaming

    Note: If you're using puto mix, skip #1 & #2 and proceed to #3.
    1.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder then mix well.
    2.  Add the melted butter, evaporated milk, egg, water and pandan essence (about 5 drops)  then mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
    3.  Pour the mixture in individual molds about 3/4 full.  For a cheesier taste, i fill the mold enough to cover the bottom, drop about an inch strip of cheese and fill it again. By doing this, your puto is not only cheesy on top but also inside :)
    4.  Fill a wok or pan that fits your bamboo steamer with water until just below the bottom of the bamboo. Cover and set the water to boiling.

    5.  Arrange the molds in the steamer, cover then steam for about 20 minutes.  If you’re using a metal/stainless-steel steamer, place a cloth between the pan and the cover. The cloth will catch the steam and prevent the condensation from falling into the puto which will prevent them from rising properly.  (I experimented on this too out of curiosity.  I used a glass lid and as expected, the puto didn't rise).

    6.  When you're down to the last minute, remove the cover and quickly top each puto with cheese slices.

    7.  When done, remove from the steamer and let cool completely.  If you remove them from the molds while they are still wet, hot and soggy, you will disfigure them.

    8.  Do the same with the remaining mixture. Make sure you check the wok/skillet if you have enough water for steaming before you start the next batch.

    9.  Serve either hot or cold.

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