Kutsinta (cuchinta) are Filipino steamed cakes made with flour, tapioca flour, and brown sugar. Soft, chewy and topped with grated coconut, they’re a delicious snack or dessert.
I’ve been on the lookout for a good recipe for kutsinta since forever, but my search and kitchen experimentation have been sorely disappointing. That was until last weekend when my kumare posted on Facebook a picture of the kutsinta she made and how she finally nailed the recipe after two years of trial and error.
I was so excited reading her post, I PM’ed her as fast as my stubby fingers could type! I am not sure of the time difference between California and Vancouver where she lives, but I was glad she replied with the recipe and had me on my kutsinta-making project in thirty minutes flat. Thank heavens for awesome friends 🙂
A couple of bites of the steamed cakes I made following her method and I had to agree; she indeed nailed it! While most of the recipes I’ve encountered in the past are made of rice flour, her version uses all-purpose flour and tapioca flour which, along with the addition of lye, produces the soft and chewy texture I like.
What does Lye Water do in Kutsinta?
Food grade Lye water is a strong alkaline solution used in various cooking processes such as curing and baking. As a key ingredient in making kutsinta or pichi-pichi as well in Chinese moon cakes, bagels, pretzels, and ramen noodles, it raises the ph level of the dough for a richer color and a springy texture.
If you prefer not to use lye or don’t have access to it, you can read this article on how to use baked baking soda solution as an alternative.
Tips on How to Make Kutsinta
- The atsuete is primarily added to deepen the color and you can use more or less depending on the brown sugar you use.
- I use silicone molds for steaming; if you’re using tin molds, you might need to lightly grease the inside for easy removal of the steamed cakes.
- Make sure to steam in a gentle simmer to prevent the kutsinta from sinking in the middle.
- These are mini-sized cuchinta; recipe yield depends on the size of molds you use.
Other Puto Recipes:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon atsuete powder annatto
- 1 tablespoon lye water
- In a bowl, combine flour, tapioca flour, sugar, and water. Stir well until dissolved and mixture is smooth.
- Add atsuete and stir until well dispersed and the desired color is achieved.
- Add lye water and stir.
- Lightly grease inside of molds with melted butter (If using silicone molds, skip this step). Fill molds to about 3/4 full.
- Add water to the steamer and bring to simmer over medium heat.
- Steam kutsinta for about 40 to 45 minutes or until mixture is set. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Gently remove from molds and serve with grated coconut.