Non-traditional Puto Bumbong
10 years away from the Philippines and there are certainly a lot of things I miss. One of them is the Puto Bumbong, and not just during the Christmas season. I remember eating them during those cold mornings after church, with bibingka and tea or coffee in my lola’s house. I used to live in her house and my aunts, who were lovely teenagers then, most of the time had their friends over after mass. This blog actually brings back memories of laughter, of jokes and friendships. My aunts and their friends are still in touch, even if life has led them to different directions and places and although they have grown grey hairs, their eyes would always reflect back memories of their carefree youth and love and acceptance of each other.
One of my aunt’s friends’ mother used to sell puto bumbong near the church and I remember seeing her make them, and it looked like it was easy. I have often thought one day I will make them myself but never did because they were always available. But now that I am in a different country, I really do need to make them if I want some. I do not have the special steamer that is used to make them, as well as those bamboo looking cylinders and I didn’t want to try to make something similar so I searched the internet. I found numerous recipes and videos and in the end, I consolidated ideas from them and came up with this. It is not the traditional way of making puto bumbong but I promise you, it is enough to make you smile, sate your craving and want to make some more next time.
about 4 cups water for boiling
For the dough:
about 300 grams glutinous rice flour (not the plain rice flour — it should be the glutinous one)
about 70 grams ube powder (you can find them in Asian stores — do not rehydrate them!)
1 1/2 cups water
purple food colouring gel (this is not required — it’s just me — I just want to make sure they are really purple)
about 1 cup of moist coconut flakes (I used the
McCormick McKenzie’s brand but you can use grated fresh coconut of course, or those packed stringy coconut thingies)
butter (I use the salted variety as I find that the salt in the butter enhances the flavour)
white sugar or brown sugar or grated palm sugar — whatever you prefer
What you need to do:
Place about 4 cups of water in a deep saucepan and boil. While waiting for it to boil, prepare your dough: Mix in a bowl the flour, ube powder and a couple of drops of food colouring if you are using some. Pour 1 cup of water first in the mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. They should form a soft ball of dough, but the dough shouldn’t be sticky when you touch it. If it is too sticky, add some more of the flour and the powder. If it is too dry, add the remaining 1/2 cup water a little at a time, and only up to the point where the dough is as described.
When the water is boiling, measure about 1 1/2 tablespoon of the dough, roll up into a ball with your hand and shape into about 3 inches long strips (don’t make them too thin because they might break) and very gently lower into the boiling water one at a time. I was able to fit 5 strips at a time as my pan is not that big. Now, wait until they float — surprise!!!! It’s the same way you will cook your palitaw! When they float, that means they are cooked. With a slotted spoon, get them out of the water and drain using a plastic strainer (not metal because it will stick). Place on a plate and spread butter on top. The butter will melt because the puto bumbong are still warm. As the butter melts, roll each strip on the butter not just to stop them from sticking to each other, but also to make them more flavourful. Roll on or sprinkle generously with coconut and sugar. And if you are like me, put some more butter on top. Serve and enjoy!