Perhaps the most loved of all Philippine desserts that Filipinos cannot wait to eat during the Christmas season in the Philippines is puto bumbong, a purple-colored sticky rice cake shaped like small logs and flavored with muscovado sugar or panutsa, grated meat of fresh coconuts, and butter or margarine.
Yes, puto bumbong is such a favorite in the Philippines that Filipinos think of Christmas in the colors of not just red and green but also purple!
Puto bumbong, along with other favorite Filipino Christmas foods like bibingka, tsokolate and salabat, are sold right outside the many Catholic churches in the Philippines from December 16 to 24 each year, when many Filipinos attend the nine-day Christmas dawn masses that start as early as 3 o’clock in the morning.
Traditional Way of Preparing Puto Bumbong
Traditionally, puto bumbong is made using a local lansungan, a tin or stainless steel steamer placed on top of a pot of boiling water.
Lansungan has either two or three open holes where bamboo tubes covered with muslin or cheese cloth are mounted.
Filipinos pour into the bamboo tubes the ingredients for puto bumbong then steam them.
In a matter of seconds, puto bumbong should be cooked – fantastic speed!
While preparing puto bumbong is fairly fast to make, lansungan is not easy to find outside of the Philippines.
Quick-witted Filipinos living overseas, however, have made a way to make this all-time favorite Filipino Christmas rice cake without the traditional lansungan.
Improvised Way of Preparing Puto Bumbong
Filipinos living outside of the Philippines make puto bumbong with just strainers, aluminum foil-covered heavy-duty paper like cardboard, and pots filled with water.
Since this improvised way does not make use of bamboo tubes, then the shape of the end-product is naturally not cylindrical but rather cup-like.
Still, the taste is absolutely the same as the puto bumbong prepared in bamboo tubes.
Here is a trouble-free and non-traditional puto bumbong recipe that does not need a lansungan.
Ingredients for Making Puto Bumbong
banana leaves – cut into 2 square pieces
coconut meat – fresh and grated; 2 tablespoons
margarine or butter – 1 tablespoon
muscovado sugar or panutsa(sugar cane sweet) – 2 tablespoons
pandan leaves – 1 stalk
pirurutong or purple-brown aromatic sticky rice – ½ cup
white sticky rice – 1 cup
water – about 4 cups
Note: If pirurutong is not available, use 2 cups of white sticky rice and 2 teaspoons of purple food color in the flavor of water or winged yam.
Tools for Making Puto Bumbong
aluminum foil for covering heavy-duty paper
heavy-duty paper cut into circles and with a circular opening in the middle (opening should be big enough for a small-sized strainer to fit inside)
large-sized mixing bowl
muslin or cheese cloth
pot large enough to hold water
Preparations for Puto Bumbong
Wash the white sticky rice and pirurutong with water then drain.
When the white sticky rice and pirurutong are already cleaned, place them in a pot.
Fill the pot with water up to about one inch from the top surface of the rice.
Soak the rice overnight or for at least eight hours.
Place the soaked rice in a blender and blend until grainy.
Place the grainy rice in a muslin or cheese cloth.
Tie the cloth and place it on a medium-sized strainer.
Wait until most of the liquid from the rice in the cloth is drained. This should take at least four hours.
Instructions for Making Puto Bumbong
Get the moist rice mixture from the muslin or cheese cloth and place it in a large-sized mixing bowl.
Crush the rice mixture by hand until its texture becomes consistent.
Place pandan leaves into a pot.
Pour water into the pot.
Place the heavy-duty paper covered with aluminum foil on the lid of the pot.
Apply butter or margarine on the small-sized strainer.
Fill the small-sized strainer with the rice mixture.
Fit the small-sized strainer into the hole at the middle of the heavy-duty paper.
Cover the pot and let the mixture steam for 60 seconds or up to two minutes.
Scoop out the steamed rice cake and place on banana leaves.
Flavor the rice cake with muscovado sugar or panutsa, butter or margarine, and grated meat of fresh coconuts.