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Floating Rice Cake topped with Fresh Coconut and Toasted Sesame Seeds

Palitaw is one of many ‘kakanin’ or rice cakes that Filipinos love to eat for merienda or snacks. We also serve Palitaw as a dessert at parties and gatherings. It’s a delicacy in the Philippines and it’s one of many dishes that are truly Filipino. The word ‘palitaw’ literally means ‘to float’ or ‘floating’. They named it Palitaw because you can tell when it’s cooked when the rice cakes float.

One my earliest memories of Palitaw is that it was usually being sold outside my school when I was living in the Philippines. It was a delicious snack and it will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth! Living in the UK makes Palitaw a special dessert or treat whenever I make it or when I go to a Filipino gathering. It has a soft and sticky texture covered in fresh grated coconut, crispy toasted sesame seeds and the sweetness from the sugar makes it a very satisfying rice cake.

I made some with my special guest, Miss E the youngest or ‘bunso’ in the family. She was very happy to get involved. It’s her Easter holidays and it is a great activity to do with children. As you may have noticed, the Palitaw disks are not all the same size but it’s ok we loved spending time together while making them and they all tasted fabulous!

I think many parents dread cooking with their children, I have to admit I used to think that way but over the years I started seeing way past the mess and being annoyed that sometimes they are not listening. Haha! I hope I didn’t put you off then…oops! Mummies and Daddies, get your children involved in cooking, there are so much to learn in cooking. For example for this dish Miss E weighed the ingredients, so she used her math and learnt conversions. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t stick 100% it’s the experience that counts! She learnt the steps to making Palitaw, that meant she learnt to follow instructions and understood the next steps, why each step is important and there are so many more benefits too.

Miss E is a gymnast and if she’s not in school or doing homework she is in her gymnastic sessions 3 times a week. She loves watching me cook and often ask to help, I let her chop or peel vegetables like I did when I was her age. She love stirring and adding ingredients when I’m cooking. This is how I learnt and how I remembered most of the Filipino recipes that I help my dad cook when I was little. Most importantly her most favourite step (and mine!) is tasting the dish.

I love cooking with my girls, apart from passing my knowledge to them it’s a lovely way of bonding with them too. In the end we all get to enjoy the food together with the whole family.

I hope you will make this dish with someone a friend or your children. If you do, don’t forget to tag me @foodwithmae on your instagram photos.



250g glutinous rice flour
125g granulated sugar
237ml water
50g roasted sesame seeds
250g grated coconut



Using a medium size pot, fill it three quarters up with water and bring it to boil. Turn the heat down to medium once boiled.


Combine toasted sesame seeds and sugar on a plate. Place grated coconut on a separate plate and set both aside for later.


In a large bowl combine glutinous rice flour with water and mix until you get a dough texture. Once mixed, take some dough, roll it into a ball using the palm of your hands and then flatten them between your hands.


Drop the dough disk into the boiling water and wait for it to completely float, once floating take it off the water and strain. Note that the rice will be sticky so it’s better you shake most of the water out as much as possible then coat them straight away.


Dip the palitaw disk firstly into the grated coconut and then into the sesame seeds and sugar mixture. Place it onto a serving plate. Repeat until all of the dough is cooked and coated.


*UPDATE* 1. Originally I added the sugar into the topping mixture but I recently discovered that adding the sugar into the glutinous rice flour mixture before adding the water makes the palitaw have a consistent sweetness not overwhelmingly sweet as a first taste. This is an option you can do too. 2. If you want to make Classic (white) palitaw and Ube (purple yam) palitaw, half the flour (and sugar if you want the sugar into the dough) and water, then add 1/2 teaspoon of ube essence or extract into one of the half water before adding it into the flour mixture to get a consistent flavour throughout the dough.

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    • iamearthmilk
    • 30/04/2019

    Hi Mae, how many servings (palitaw disks) can I make from this recipe? Thanks

      • foodwithmae
      • 30/04/2019

      Hi Jelly Mae,

      Thank you for following my recipe. Approximately about 20 small discs in this recipe. Please let me know if you have anymore questions. I would love to see your Palitaw, don’t forget to tag me on your instagram photos or videos. Again Thank you!

      kind regards,

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