Nothing triggers more memories of past Christmases for me than the sight of a dish piled high with puto. When I was a little girl, I used to walk to church with my Yaya (Nanny) at 5:00 every morning to attend the Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster), so called because they’re held at dawn when the rooster crows. The Misa de Gallo is a 9-day Catholic novena mass which starts on the 16th of December and runs through the 24th. After mass, you went outside the church to find various stalls with vendors selling all kinds of native Filipino foods that you could buy for breakfast and which you either ate there while chatting with your neighbors or brought home to share with your family. Puto was one of the delicacies always being sold.
The little steamed rice cakes were traditionally made with rice flour, but nowadays it seems as though more and more people are using regular all-purpose flour to make them. Whatever kind of flour you use, the little cakes have one thing in common — they are steamed, not baked. Before rice flour became so readily available in our local grocery stores, I learned to make this “cheating” recipe which uses Bisquick baking mix. Now that rice flour is so easily obtained, I still find myself reaching for the box of Bisquick! It may not be quite traditional in flavor, but it makes a delicious puto and is wonderfully easy to whip together.
- 2 cups Bisquick mix
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
- fresh grated coconut (optional)
- In a medium bowl, stir all the ingredients together until smooth.
- Fill a large wok with about an inch of water and bring to a boil.
- Once water is boiling, lower heat to maintain a steady simmer.
- Fill mini-muffin pan about 2/3 full with batter.
- Place muffin pan into wok so the 4 corners touch the sides of the wok and the bottom of the muffin pan is floating above but not touching the water.
- Cover with lid and steam for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Lift lid off, taking care that water condensed inside lid does not run down onto the puto.
- Using tongs, carefully lift muffin pan out of wok and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing puto from pan.
- Serve with grated coconut, if desired.