You Can Make Maja Blanca Using This Cornstarch Substitute

You can buy or make this easy substitute.

Corn pudding is a common and favorite dessert here in the Philippines. Also called maja blanca, this kakanin is a dessert studded with corn kernels in an almost stark white pudding that's so stiff, it can be sliced into squares. Unlike other kakanin, however, it's typically not made with rice at all. 

A typical maja blanca recipe requires you to use a large amount of cornstarch to develop that thick consistency that when chilled, results in a gelatin-like consistency that holds up well even in the heat of the summer. Cornstarch is more stable than gelatin in our tropical weather and is easier to work with than gulaman which, once set, is difficult to remelt to fix.

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However, cornstarch has its drawbacks, too. Cornstarch, once thickened, can return back to its liquid state. That's because while cornstarch thickens quickly, it also loses this consistency when cooked for too long. Basically, you can overcook cornstarch. If you're using cornstarch, when the mixture has thickened completely, you do need to remove it from the stove before you overcook it and the mixture returns to its liquid state. 

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You can make maja blanca into a pudding instead.
Photo by Kai Huang
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You can avoid this with a simple ingredient substitute: use rice flour. Rice flour has similar thickening properties as cornstarch but it has a slight advantage: it won't return to a liquid if you overcook the rice flour. In fact, using rice flour will make the mixture turn gooey and sticky like the sticky kakanin from Pateros and Taguig, the inutak.

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If you have rice flour on hand, perfect! Use the same amount of rice flour as you would cornstarch. If not, there's still an easy solution: make your own rice flour mixture.

Don't worry though. It can be made easier than trying to grind rice into a powder. You can use the steps you might take when making a bibingkang galapong recipe. Just like the bibingka, you can make the rice flour mixture in a blender. Here's what you do to make a maja blanca using rice:

  1. 1. Soak 1 cup malagkit rice in water overnight.
  2. 2. Drain the soaked rice.
  3. 3. Place the soaked rice and 2 cups gata into a blender.
  4. 4. Process the rice and gata mixture until the rice is finely ground. (Mixture should feel and look smooth.)
  5. 5. Transfer the mixture to a pot. Add the sugar, corn, and the remaining gata, and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, the mixture has come to a boil, and has thickened.
  6. 6. Transfer to a container, cover, and let cool completely.

While this will not have the same consistency if you made this with cornstarch, this is now legitimately worthy of being called a kakanin.

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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