It’s December 16 and the first day of the Misa de Gallo. For nine consecutive early mornings before Christmas Day, Catholic Churches throughout the Philippines ring their bells around 3 am to invite the faithful to worship and announce the start of this holiday custom. After the mass, the parishoners including myself headed off to the Puto Bumbong stand where it was sold for 20 pesos per pack.
Puto Bumbong memories only started when I lived in Manila. Growing up in Cebu till I was 16, I never knew what puto bumbong tasted like. At first I thought it was tasteless but that was because there was no muscovado in it.
Most Puto Bumbong is in bright purple color supposedly due to the addition fresh pirurutong (purple upland glutinous rice). It is topped with lots of granulated sugar and shredded coconut. The thing is I can’t taste a hint of pirurutong when I bought puto bumbong from the neighborhood stall. I thought it’d be authentic. MarketMan Manila explains it :
First, the mixture most commercial vendors use today is purchased in bulk, and not made by them at all. The mixture is heavily adulterated with plain rice (up to 50+%) which is mixed with glutinous rice to reduce the cost and “fluff up” the end result. Second, nearly all of the vendors I observed apparently used violet food coloring to achieve their purple rice cakes, and NOT the more fragrant and expensive and often difficult to find pirurutong! This whole violet food color thing does bug me immensely. Pirurutong imparts a distinct fragrance and natural color that is GORGEOUS, and replacing this key ingredient with purple dye is simply outrageous for me.
If you missed buying the puto bumbong after the misa de gallo, you can always grab a bite at the food stall in Taste Asia, SM Hypermarket. Via Mare is also known to serve great puto bumbong. For a small extra charge, one can choose to have it with cheddar cheese or grated queso de bola.
And if you’re feeling adventurous enough, MarketMan Manila generousky shares his Puto Bumbong Recipe and Cooking Techniques.