Filipino Rice Cake (Puto)

Because I’m in Manila, the Philippines now, I feel obliged to dig out this recipe to blog about it.

Am here in Manila for a work trip this week for a total of nine days. Work aside, it’s been quite busy days, but I feel more tired eating and entertaining than I am doing anything else. It’s about keeping my spirits up and encouraging myself to have to learn as much from the trip as I can. Fortunately for me, my company is nice and takes care of me so it’s been a really pleasant trip so far (other than the tiredness but which trip isn’t tired?).

The people I’ve met here are really warm and friendly. The Filipinos live up to the world’s expectations of being a most hospitable and sociable group of people. It’s not just the people we meet and greet every day who are nice to us; the security, service staff at the conuters and shops, they are all the same. It’s amazing how they do this but I salute their aptitude and professionalism. So that adds to the pleasantness of this trip as well.

In terms of food, Filipino cuisine is familiar but a lot ‘wetter’ and ‘saucier’, if you know what I mean. The vegetables tend to be stir-fried with a gravy, and the gravy tends to be tangy (they love tamarind). The meat too, comes in a variety of sauces, but they offer those that are roasted too. Apparently, their roast pork (lechon) is the best, but I think I’ve yet to try the best here.

The other thing I’ve come to realise is that Filipino cuisine is always sweet, even the savoury ones. Yesterday, I tried this dish called bibingka. It’s a baked cake made of rice flour, I believe, and it’s baked with salted egg yolks and melted cheese on top. So while the cake is mainly sweet, there are frequent moments of savoury that combines with the sweetness. And surprisingly, it’s a pleasant combination, not a weird one at all!

So being here helps me understand why this puto (rice cake) is prepared in such a way, and I’ve only been here for two days! Filipinos love sweet stuff (which is why this rice cake is so sweet). They love savoury + sweet too (which explains the cheese on top of the cake). It all makes sense now, and yes, it tasted lovely!

You’ll probably not be able to find many sweet + savoury stuff in Singapore, so I’m hoping you give this recipe a try if you’d like to have a taste of Filipino culture in Singapore!


  • Rice flour: 100g
  • Hong Kong flour (Top flour): 100g
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Double-acting baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Coconut milk: 200ml
  • Boiling water: 160ml
  • Caster sugar: 100g
  • Vanilla essence: 1 tsp


  1. Sift rice flour, Hong Kong flour, baking powder and double-acting baking powder into a  mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in coconut milk and mix evenly.
  3. Stir in boiling water. Mix evenly and leave to cool 1hr.
  4. Combine flour mixture with sugar & vanilla essence.
  5. Pour batter into moulds till 90% full. Leave to stand 30min.
  6. Steam 15min till puffed up.
  7. Place strips of cheese on top of cakes immediately after steaming to serve.


  • You can add some colours to your puto by adding a few drops of colouring to the batter at step 3 above.


  • You can really afford to cut down the sugar level quite a bit here. The original recipe calls for 100g, but I think it can be cut down to between 60 – 80g and still taste as sweet!

4 – 6 small cakes (depending on size of moulds)

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