Steamed rice cakes

Steamed rice cakes


7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

Like most Filipinos, I have a soft spot for these sweet little steamed cakes known as puto. While subtle, puto has a distinctive flavour, even now, when traditional ground rice has largely been replaced with flour. Purists may argue that it is not the real deal, but they are infinitely easier to make as a result. This recipe is adapted from the Goldilocks Bakeshop Bakebook. I wish I had of known it sooner.


Quantity Ingredient
250g plain flour
220g caster sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 egg whites
60ml full-cream milk


  1. Grease 8 puto moulds or 6 cm round silicone or dariole moulds and set aside. Fill a wok one-third full of water and place a bamboo steamer with a tight-fitting lid on top. Bring to the boil over medium–high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the egg whites, milk and 375 ml water until well combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Strain the mixture through a sieve into the moulds, filling each to 2 cm deep. Place the moulds in the steamer, cover, and steam for 17–20 minutes, or until they are springy and a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Remove from the steamer, cool slightly, then remove from the moulds. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 16 puto in total. Serve warm or at room temperature.

What is it?

  • The term puto refers to a wide variety of steamed cakes, which form a subset of kakanin (native treats). They can be flavoured (puto ube), enriched with egg yolks (puto mamon), even dried (puto seco). Plain white puto is the most common and a favourite merienda eaten with savoury items, such as pancit and dinuguan (intestine and pork blood) or as a sweet snack with grated coconut. During Christmas, puto bumbong is popular. It takes its sticky texture and distinctive purple colour from pirurutong, an heirloom black glutinous rice, while its name comes from the bamboo (bumbong) tube it is cooked in.
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