Thursday, May 2, 2013

Steamed rice cakes (puto) like Michelle's

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.

Putong ube

Putong muscovado
Putong queso
Putong pandan
These puto were fluffy and moist, and most importantly, tasted like the flavour they were supposed to be.  So easy to eat a plateful in one go!  They were 'cake-y', fresh out of the steamer, which made me question whether this was the right texture or not.  My friend Mimi said that Michelle's puto was chiffon cake-like in softness and so my recipe must be on the right track.

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.


  1. Yummmmy Puto!!! I like eating them with freshly grated coconut. Which one is your favorite flavor? I'm glad that they're not heavy but fluffy and moist. Looking forward to your recipe/s. What container did you use to cook them and where did you get it? Thanks!

    1. I like the muscovado.

      I used mini muffin pans to make my puto.

  2. Can't wait for the recipe Corinne, i saw in your flickr account the rice puto which we also miss so much, please share the recipe too. Thanks ^_^

  3. Does anyone know to get the crack split on top of puto?

    1. Try steaming in high heat. Usually, a cake cracks when it rises too fast because of high temperature.

  4. I’ve tried the pandan puto and it is very tasty but a little bit dry. I am looking for something chewy and soft. thank you very much for the recipe :-)