I was really excited when Meg Mateo Ilasco, co-founder and creative director of Anthology magazine, said she’d share a Filipino recipe with us here on the column. I try to get traditional non-American recipes from far and wide for the column that fit our “simple and seasonal” theme. I realize that means we may miss out on some great dishes, but it means we get many other great ones, like this steamed cake called puto. This is the first Filipino recipe which has ever fallen between my hands, and I am very curious to try it because it is sweet yet is sprinkled with cheddar cheese! If you have a relatively simple and seasonal recipe, or a simple recipe that is not bound by seasons, like this puto, please reach out through our submissions address. We’d love to hear your ideas! –
Meg Mateo Ilasco is a mother of two, freelance artist and writer, and a serial entrepreneur who started her first business in 1999. She is the author of several books, including Crafting a Meaningful Home and Mom, Inc. She is also the cofounder and creative director of the home and . See Meg’s first recipe on In the Kitchen With, here in our archives.
See the recipe for this Filipino steamed cake (puto) after the jump!
Steamed Cake (Puto)
Yields about 8-12
Special equipment: Bamboo steamer, muffin tins or ramekins
Photos by Marvin Ilasco
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 egg white
- ¼ cup evaporated milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- melted butter or vegetable oil
- shredded cheddar cheese
1. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk water, egg white, evaporated milk, and vanilla until smooth and then add dry ingredients. Whisk until combined. If necessary, strain batter through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps.
3. Lightly brush your muffin tins or ramekins with butter or vegetable oil. Fill each muffin tin or ramekin with batter until about ¾ full.
4. Place the tins or ramekins in a bamboo steamer.
5. Steam the puto for 15 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the puto to check if it’s done. If you are using tins and ramekins in a variety of sizes (as shown in these images), completion times will vary. Larger or deeper containers will need more time.
6. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of each puto and place the cover back on the steamer for a few seconds to allow the cheese to melt.
7. Remove tins or ramekins from steamer and allow to cool for about 3 minutes before removing the cake.
8. You’ll repeat steps 3-6 until you’ve finished the batter. Be sure to check your steamer to make sure there’s ample water.
Why Meg loves this recipe:
A lot of my memories of cooking with my mom are tied to potlucks. (In Filipino culture, it’s customary as a guest to bring a dish to a party—so every party we went to was essentially a potluck.) One of the dishes in my mom’s potluck repertoire was a steamed cake called puto, a popular Filipino dessert. When I was a kid there was something magical and gratifying about cooking a cake with steam: just put batter in a tin, pop it in the steamer, and in about 15 minutes it’s done! It was better than an Easy-Bake Oven. I still make this dessert, this time with my kids. I love looking at their faces when we open the bamboo steamer and reveal the little steamed cakes.