This Is What Makes Calasiao Puto Different From Regular Puto

It may have similar ingredients but it's different once cooked.

IMAGE Majoy Siason

One of the most popular and well-loved kakanin is the puto. Also known as the steamed rice cake, puto comes in many forms. It can be found as mini muffin-sized bites and can even be found as steamed in a large bilao if you were to drop by Biñan, Laguna

While there are different kinds of puto according to the part of the Philippines you happen to visit, there is one that looks pretty similar to the usual kind you commonly find: the puto Calasiao from Calasiao, Pangasinan. 

Here's how these the usual puto and the puto Calasiao recipes are the same as well as different: 

Photo by Riell Santos
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Both puto recipes basically contain the same ingredients: rice flour, water, sugar, and a leavener. The classic puto recipe may also have a batter that's more enriched, meaning there are other ingredients added in to make it more delicious and thus, richer tasting. These ingredients include egg, melted butter, and evaporated milk or even coconut milk or gata. A topping of a sliver of cheese, brushing melted butter, or serving it with niyog or grated fresh coconut is how these are usually finished. 

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Both puto recipes are also steamed in small metal or plastic molds. These usually need to be lightly oiled before the batter is poured in so that the cooked puto pops out easily. 

These similarities all sound normal, so how are these puto different? 

The rice flour and the leavener used in the puto and the puto Calasiao recipes are different. 

More specifically, it's how these two puto batters are leavened and the kind of rice flour used that makes these two puto recipes different. The classic puto recipe many of us have made uses baking powder. This common baking leavener is responsible for the lift and puff of the puto once it's in the steamer. 

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However, for the more traditional puto Calasiao recipe, there is no baking powder used to give the little cakes its puffed appearance and light and airy texture. The puto Calasiao is traditionally fermented

Photo by Majoy Siason

In more traditional recipes, you'll see that both puto batters were originally made with soaked rice in water. This was intentioned to soften the rice kernels so that when ground, it created a super smooth batter with no lumpy kernels to mar the texture. The puto Calasiao recipe, however, took the rice soaking process one step further. Instead of steaming it as soon as the batter was made, the batter was allowed to ferment for at least two days. This fermentation gave it that lift that baking powder would do, too.

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However, not everyone has the time to ferment puto batter for two day. To make up for the two days of fermentation, this easy recipe uses instead yeast to mimic that process overnight instead. 

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Dec 11, 2019

Not only is the leavener different, but the type of rice used in these two kinds of puto is also different. The classic puto recipe normally calls for regular rice flour. The puto Calasiao recipe uses malagkit rice or glutinous rice for its flour. This results in the sticky texture of the puto Calasiao that's not present in the usual puto you make. If you ever wondered why your puto is sticky on top, you probably used the wrong kind of rice flour for your puto. 

You really don't have to go far for your puto or your puto Calasiao fix! You can make it at home with the easy recipes above. Try them or maybe you're curious what other puto you can make. Read on to see how else you can make puto different from the usual:  

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