When you can't have the real thing, clone it.
That has been my motto for a time now....that is, when it comes to food. That is how most of the cake recipes you see here were born.
Recently, another Filipino favourite I thought of recreating was steamed rice cakes or puto as we call it. (I am a little apprehensive to use the Filipino term as I know this is a rather offensive word in another language. But that is it's proper name, so please excuse me.)
I know there is a variety of puto around but the one I wanted to make was something similar to Michelle's putong ube, a well-known homemade brand in Metro Manila. Michelle's actually has four puto variants: ube (purple yam), muscovado, queso (cheese), and pandan. Their products are a bit pricey compared to sidewalk vendor-puto but are really well worth the money.
The one and only time I tasted Michelle's puto was last January. I've read about it on the internet and have seen photos so I was curious. I could not remember the exact taste and texture of each flavour so in order to recreate it, I had to ask around and also find whatever useful information I can. I should give credit to this article and also to this picture (originally found here)...
|If you look closely, you will see the list of ingredients for the putong ube. (CLICK TO ENLARGE.)|
A lot of puto recipes these days make use of wheat flour which makes the name 'rice cake' really a misnomer. You will notice from the list of ingredients shown in the picture that although rice is a major component, there is wheat flour as well. I suppose some source of gluten, even in a small amount, is necessary to give this cake structure. Rice cakes made purely of ground rice or rice flour tend to be flat.
One thing I figured was that there had to be a single basic recipe for all flavours, with just a minimum of adjustments to some of the ingredients. With this in mind, what was once again a series of kitchen experimentation for me began. As a result, I have been eating puto for breakfast, lunch, snack and even dessert for a few days now!
That's all behind me now cause I believe I finally got it!
Here they are: my versions of the putong ube, muscovado, queso, and pandan.
Apart from the cracked top, I reckon these are pretty similar to Michelle's. I wonder if the cracked top is meant to be their signature look? My puto hardly had any cracks and am thinking of what I should do to get them (not that they look better with cracks). Just asking.
Do you like steamed rice cakes? Then stay tuned for the recipes. Next time, I promise.