Welcome to adobo-down-under!

Musings. Family. Food. Stories. Cooking. Recipes. Eating. A recipe journal. From simple Filipino dishes to challenging recipes and exciting gastronomical failures. This is for my girls to look back on for comfort, memories, laughs, love and lots of food!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Steamed milk cupcakes (Filipino puto)

There's an unwritten Filipino tradition that every family observes on the eve of new year. It doesn't matter which part of the world we are, generally all Filipino families practice this.  And that is to plate or serve round types of food.  Whether its a basket full of round fruits or dishes with round ingredients, it is a custom that's hard to ignore.  Why?  Well supposedly round-shaped foods and fruits bring good luck for the new year. Everybody wants good luck for the new year, right?  Who wouldn't?

This practice is obviously brought and influenced by the Chinese. Whether its fad or tradition, we follow what we grew up with. So round fruits always adorn our table every new year.  Here's an old article mined from 2010 about this practice.

And while we are in the subject of round foods, why not a classic Filipino round sweet treat for a first post of the year!  So  here it is, a recipe shared to me by an ex office colleague for steamed milk cupcakes, or "puto" as what is locally called back home.

Puto/s are traditionally made using rice flour, hence called steamed rice cupcakes or cakes.  They're also made using banana leaves trimmed to fit the round mini cakes.  They also come in lots of colours (no flavours) and sometimes with pandan and coconut flavours.

But this particular recipe is easy.  It uses plain flour and pantry staples.  And its no bake.  I've prepared this using a make-shift steamer: a large wok, a round grill or cooling rack placed on top of the water and mini cupcake pans. Of course if you own a steamer, this will be an easier feat.  Otherwise, you can always use the oven and make this using a bain-marie: a roasting rack with a little water, your cupcake pan then covered with aluminum foil. 

To make this recipe
(Print the recipe here)


3 cups all purpose/plain flour

1 1/2 cups milk or 1 can 375ml evaporated milk

3 tablespoons baking powder

2 cups caster sugar

1 1/2 cups water

3 eggs

cheese slices/squares or grated for topping

In a large bowl using a whisk, mix all ingredients together.

Pour into muffin/cupcake pans.

Top with cheese.

Place in the steamer (or bain marie in the oven) and cook for 20 minutes.

Test with a toothpick or skewer.  Stick should come out clean.


The classic combo for this sweet treat is puto and dinuguan (blood pudding).  If you haven't tried this, just leave it to your imagination.  It may seem a odd.  Wierd even. But the combination is divine. Savoury and sweet at the same time.  Black and white.  Ebony and ivory.  But that's Filipino food for you.    It's like no other I must say.  Now I'm not going to push anyone to try dinuguan (blood pudding, why I'm the only one at home who likes this stuff!  And I'm yet to learn how to make it!), but this sweet round treat should be an easy must-try for those who are keen for something different.

So how about you?  Do you have family traditions that you follow from where you grew up?  Or are you making your own traditions?  And while we're at it, do you have any foodie resolutions and goal this year?


  1. You Filipinos and your wacky use of cheese in sweets. I always find it intriguing. Hey, these look dead easy. I'm up for trying to make them. I like blood pudding but we are in the minority!

    1. Thanks Fiona! It is a bit wacky I must say! We love our sweet and salty at the same time! xx



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