December 15: National Cupcake Day
In elementary school on the mainland*, when Islander was learning about ethnic diversity, her teacher asked parents to share a simple snack from their kids’ cultures. Mommy brought puto, a type of Filipino cake made with rice flour. However, some people were not used to the glutinous texture of traditional puto. So she used a more familiar flour—Bisquick brand baking and pancake mix—to Americanize this Filipino food. The mini-sized puto proved popular in class!
Occasionally Islander still prepares puto with Bisquick on the mainland but eats the traditional rice cupcakes whenever she is in Hawaii or the Philippines. Make them in mini-muffin pans for a cute cultural cupcake for National Cupcake Day.
- 1 cup Bisquick brand baking mix (we used the “Heart Smart” flour)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk (we used Lactaid brand)
- ½ cup sugar
- anise seeds
In a large mixing bowl, combine the Bisquick and baking powder. Add the egg. Stir in the milk.
Add the sugar. Mix well to make a smooth batter. In a greased mini-muffin pan, pour the batter no more than halfway full. Sprinkle 2-3 anise seeds in the center of each puto.
Place the mini-muffin pan in a steamer. Steam for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove from the steamer and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Continue steaming the other pans. Remove each puto with a toothpick. Serve on a platter lined with a banana leaf (optional). Yield: Approximately 2 ½ – 3 dozen mini puto.
- We used a wok with a wire platform to steam our puto. Heat the wok with about an inch-deep of water. Place the mini-muffin pan in the wok. Steam for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pan with tongs, being careful of escaping heat. Keep checking that the water does not evaporate. Pour more as necessary.
- Sometimes we would add a few drops of liquid food coloring to create pretty pastel shades of puto. Divide the batter into three or four bowls and tint with food color for a fun and festive presentation of puto.
- Puto Bisquick is best eaten immediately or on the day it was made. Store any leftovers in a tightly-covered container.
- *Back in the late 1970s, Islander and Brenda J. were the only Asian and Hispanic students among black and white classmates in their Virginia elementary school. Brenda’s mom brought mini tacos. Ironically, decades later, we now live in the same South Texas town and still talk about the time when our moms came to class with food for ethnic diversity day!