My particular focus was finding the right recipe for steamed rice cakes, a popular Filipino food more commonly known as puto. Traditional puto is made from rice soaked in water then grinded and allowed to ferment before the actual steaming. The whole process is quite long and tedious. Commercially produced puto nowadays make use of wheat flour. Although delicious as well, it is just not the same in texture and flavour as the real thing.
I've tried a variety of puto recipes over the years. To this day, I remain unsatisfied. I am not really after doing it the traditional way. All I want is something that at least will come close.
So what happened with my experiments? Well, I do not really wish to bore you by documenting all of my failed attempts. Let me just say that out of my four tries over the past two weeks, only one batch was worth sharing with the rest of the family and was photograph-worthy as well...
This particular puto was nice and soft and very tasty too. However, after eating one piece after another, the baking powder aftertaste became so overpowering. It's a pity because it looked so good...sigh
For now, I've decided to set aside my search for the perfect puto recipe. Today, I just wanted to try something else...something my family could actually eat and enjoy...
I thought of making this other Filipino favourite as my daughter has been requesting for it anyway. It is called Cassava Cake (Cassava Bibingka)...considered a cake, but not really what we usually imagine as one. I like this version because it is not too rich and the recipe yields just the right firmness and sweetness unlike others I've tasted. I made use of packed grated cassava and canned coconut cream, ingredients which are readily available in Asian groceries.
Cassava Cake (Cassava Bibingka)
about 10 -12 servings
For the cake
500 gram pack frozen grated cassava, thawed
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups thin coconut milk ***
For the topping
300 ml can sweetened condensed milk, about 1 1/4 cups (I used skim)
2 eggs yolks
1 cup coconut cream ***
1/4 cup butter
*** Please see Step 1 below.
Take note that cooking times may vary depending on your oven. I'm using a crappy, old oven so it actually takes me longer!
1. From a 400 ml canned coconut cream, set aside 1 cup for the topping. Add just enough water to the remaining coconut cream to make 2 cups thin coconut milk (to be used in Step 3).
2. Preheat oven to 190C (350F). Prepare a 9" by 13" baking pan by lining it with non-stick baking paper. Brush the bottom with a little butter.
3. Beat eggs until foamy, then add the sugar, salt, and melted butter. Mix in the grated cassava and the 2 cups thin coconut milk (from Step 1).
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until cake is firm to the touch. Cook the topping while the cake is in the oven.
5. In a double boiler, combine condensed milk, egg yolks, coconut cream (the 1 cup set aside from Step 1), and butter. Stir constantly while cooking until mixture is thick, about 15 minutes.
6. Take cassava out of the oven when ready, then spread the topping evenly over it. Put the pan back into the oven and bake until top is golden brown, about 10 - 15 minutes.
7. Cool cake completely in pan before cutting. Cake becomes firmer as it cools down.
8. Slice and serve with coffee or tea. Enjoy!
I am hoping to do some sewing over the next few days. I have a long overdue new eBook in the making. Fingers crossed, I will be able to finish it really soon!