PANO GUMAWA NG MASARAP NA PUTO CHEESE
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Now, puto cheese is one of my all-time favorite kakanin recipes. It’s actually the second kakanin recipe that I learned, right after learning the classic puto recipe. So I definitely think that this is the perfect first recipe to learn if you want to dip your toes in learning kakanin recipes of Filipino cuisine.
Puto Cheese is a universally loved kakanin in the Philippines. It’s a variant of the original puto recipe, we just added the cheese on top. The classic puto recipe is traditionally made from slightly fermented rice and then steamed galapong or rice dough. However, through industrialization and modernization, these ingredients are rarely used over the more accessible flour. This skips the fermentation process and makes the cooking puto faster.
Puto is commonly served as an accompaniment to other traditional Filipino savory dishes. The best examples are dinuguan — a pig’s blood and offal stew, and pansit. Savory Filipino dishes are infamous for their rich flavors and puto is just the perfect accompanying dish other than rice to balance all those flavors out.
It’s also one of the favorite kakanin dishes to serve during celebrations, especially if there are a lot of savory Filipino dishes served on the feast. So puto can easily be served on any occasion; be it a huge celebratory feast or for everyday meals. It’s so commonly served in the Philippines, and because of its easier preparation method, puto there are plenty of street stalls at the palengke and even online stores that sell different varieties of puto.
HISTORY OF PUTO & KAKANIN
First off, kakanin is an umbrella term encompassing the countless rice cake recipes found throughout the Philippines. The word kakanin is derived from the Filipino words kain and kanin which translates to eat and rice respectively. Each region in the Philippines has its own specialty rice cake recipe that it’s known for.
Rice cakes in the Philippines come in many shapes, colors, and forms. Some common factors in kakanin recipes include the use of rice, the use of native ingredients to give a sweet flavor to the dish like coconut or different root crops, like cassava and ube, and kakanin dishes also typically have a sticky texture.
Another common factor that I noticed is that most kakanin are typically packaged in biodegradable materials like banana leaves. It wasn’t until modernization that plastic packaging is used, especially when buying kakanin from chain bakeries.
In other words, kakanin recipes in the Philippines make use of the abundance of the land’s natural resources. Nothing goes to waste.
Traditional tools to cook kakanin like puto are clay pots where puto is steamed. These traditional cooking tools are quite a rare find these days but this traditional technique of steaming rice mixed with other sweetener ingredients to create rice cakes survived into modern times.
The making of kakanin predates the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. In fact, there is evidence that ancient Filipinos use kakanin as offerings to the pre-colonial gods. There is also evidence that kakanin recipes serve a symbolic purpose amongst individual households. Families would give these kakanin dishes as gifts to other families, guests, and visitors to maintain close relationships, in relation to the kakanin dish’s sticky nature.
This means that kakanin recipes are amongst the oldest known recipes in the country, making it a truly indigenous Filipino recipe. With the hundreds of years of colonization of the country, the contents of the Filipino cuisine changed and evolved due to foreign influences, making surviving original indigenous recipes hard to find.
Kakanin recipes have evolved into modernized varieties that can hardly resemble the original recipe. Puto for the most part seems to be one of the original kakanin recipes in the Philippines that remained largely in its original form.
Spanish speaking folks may be taken aback by the work puto as I understand that it’s a curse word in Spanish. However, puto isn’t a Spanish word at all, at least in the Southeast Asian language. Puto is actually derived from the Malay word, putto. Putto means to portion. I can’t really find online why this particular kakanin is named as such but I have some guesses.
The original puto dish doesn’t look at all like the smooth rounded bite-sized pieces that we know of it today, instead, the original puto dishes back then looked like cotton with some sides of the puto having thicker or taller portions. With kakanin dishes having a history of being offered to families, guests, and visitors as gifts to secure stronger relations, the uneven shape of the puto created natural cutting points or portions for sharing.
Whether the bigger portions have held more importance to those who receive it is all up for speculation.
Today, modern puto recipes have sprung up from all over the country. It’s practically endless at this point with the countless puto varieties and flavors popping up in bakeries and markets, ready to be sold.
OTHER VARIETIES OF PUTO
Before we get into our main recipe for today, which is the puto cheese recipe, let’s first look more into other puto varieties. It’s no secret that the variety that can be found with this one kakanin dish is endless but I would like to discuss a few common ones, other than the puto cheese. So here are some of the most popular ones in the Philippines, according to the interwebs.
- Puto Pao – one of my favorites because of how filling it is. Get it? Puto pao is a variant of puto with a filling of meat. The name is derived from a combination of puto and siopao, a dumpling with meat fillings that’s also popular in the Philippines. It’s the perfect filling afternoon snack, in my opinion.
- Puto Bungbong – this one has a distinctive purple color and an elongated somewhat flat shape. The color came from the traditional use of a special variety of sticky or glutinous rice that’s typical purple in color called pirurutong while its shape came from the rice mixture being steamed in bamboo tubes called bumbong. Puto bumbong is typically served on a banana leaf with butter or margarine and shredded coconut mixed with muscovado sugar.
- Puto Flan – half puto and half flan or creme custard. It’s more of a desert than a snack and is deliciously sweet.
- Puto Pandan – traditionally made puto but with the addition of pandan leaves which gives it a light green color and fragrance.
- Puto Ube – just like puto pandan, puto ube is a traditionally made puto recipe except with the addition of ube or purple yam. This gives the puto a rich purple color and ube flavor.
That’s it. There are hundreds more out there which can be found in the many different regions in the Philippines. It’s going to be impossible to list them all here but the ones I mentioned above not only some of the most popular but are also highly recommended varieties of puto.
HOW TO MAKE PUTO CHEESE
Now, puto cheese is fairly simple to make and is actually a best seller of many chain bakeries in the country. So I thought that it would be a great idea to share this recipe so my readers can easily do it at home.
It’s a very simple recipe, all things considered. If you already know how to make plain traditional puto, we only need to follow one additional step and have good timing, of course, and that’s adding a strip of cheese when the puto is halfway ready.
Want to find out the entire process? Watch the video down below to find out or read the step by step instructions on how to cook this delicious and simple puto cheese recipe right at home. Enjoy!
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup of powder milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 pc. of egg
- Few of salt
- 1 and 1/2 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of butter (melted)
- pinch of salt
- small slices of cheese (for topping)
- puto molder
- In a mixing bowl, put the flour, powder milk, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix well
- Add the egg and water then mix well.
- Lastly add the melted butter and mix then set aside.
- Strain the mixture puto to make it fine and smooth.
- Scoop and pour in the puto molder and arrange into steamer.
- Cook and steam for about 8 to 10 minutes.
- After 8 minutes put the slices of cheese on top of each puto and steam for another 2 minutes.
- Let them cool down then remove the cooked puto from the molder cups.
- Serve and enjoy special puto cheese!