For a few weeks my mom would keep repeating that she wanted to make puto bumbóng, but every time I or my sister would ask “what is that?”, my mom would just repeat “puto bumbóng!”. After many days of this repeated incident, I found a large plastic jar in the kitchen filled with different coloured rice grains soaking in water. That was the first step in creating puto bumbóng. I really wanted to know what this dessert was, especially because my mom would talk about it non-stop, but never really explain what it was. I asked if I could film her showing me how to make it, and share her recipe with you. She agreed although she really did not want to be shown on camera, so I managed to get her voice and hands only in the video. This video and dessert turned out to be quite a fun experiment, and had such a tasty reward.
I learned that puto bumbóng is actually a filipino purple rice cake, that is traditionally served in the Philippines around Christmas time. I didn’t eat this or hear of it growing up because my mom didn’t make it until recent. Two years ago, I had the chance to go to Philippines with my then-boyfriend, now-fiancé and his family for Christmas and New Years. My parents have not been to Philippines since I was about half a year old (I am now 24), and do not have any immediate plans to go back anytime soon, so I decided to go ahead and see Philippines without my family, since it most likely was not going to be with my parents anytime soon. I was extremely curious to experience the Philippines firsthand, instead of just hearing stories about it. It is the place of my birth, my parents, grandparents, and so on, after all.
While we were in the Philippines, I got to meet some of my cousins, reunite with my grandparents, and meet all of my fiancé’s extended family. The two weeks I spent there was a huge culture shock, yet also felt comforting and familiar at the same time. I got to eat many foods I grew up with, and foods I’d never seen. One of those, was puto bumbóng. A memory I vaguely forgot about until I finished baking with my mom, and realized the dessert sitting in front of me was something I had already had. Making this dessert with my mom and connecting the dots was quite an emotional roller coaster for me. I mostly enjoyed hearing her stories about her memories with this dessert. I’ve captured the whole experience in my youtube video above, and I’m truly grateful I was able to document it.
From my mom herself, here is the recipe below:
This recipe makes about 30 pieces or 6 servings
368g (2 cups) long grain glutinous white rice
184g (1 cup) black glutinous rice
water, for soaking the rice
30g (1/4 cup) melted butter, for brushing on the foils
fresh shaved coconut, for topping
muscovado or demerara sugar, for topping
30g (1/4 cup) for brushing onto the steamed puto bumbong
- In a large sealable container, add enough water to cover the surface of the rice with 1 inch of water, and let it soak for 24 hours. Check on it after a few hours, as you may need to top up the water level.
- After about 24 hours, strain the rice and reserve about 1/4 cup of the water. Place the grains into a food processor, and pulse a few times, then blend on medium for about 3-5 minutes or until finely ground. Add in the water, and blend again for another 3-5 minutes. Dump the rice into a large bowl and mix it to get an even texture throughout. If you can squeeze the grains in your hands to form a ball, it is ready to be steamed. If the mixture falls apart, place back into the food processor to blend for another 3-5 minutes.
- Cut out 30 pieces of foil, around 4″x7″. Brush each layer with melted butter, and then spoon 2 tbsp of rice onto the sheet. Squeeze the rice into a sausage shape, and roll into the foil, pinching the ends to seal slightly.
- Place about 6-10 puto in the steamer, depending on the size of your steamer, and steam for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove from the steamer, unwrap the puto bumbóng, and place on a square sheet of banana leaf.
- Brush the puto with butter, or serve with shaved butter, top with a few tablespoons of coconut, and sugar.
- Enjoy while still warm!