Abolo, Gluten Free Beninese Steamed Rice Cakes

Abolo or ablo are bouncy steamed rice cakes which are commonly eaten in Western African countries.

They are made with a combination of corn starch, corn flour, and rice flour. By themselves the steamed buns are quite plain but paired with a hearty stew or soup they are the perfect accompaniment for a filling meal.

Treat them as dumplings which can go well with any sauce that goes well with rice.

The best part is that they are super simple to make. There are versions which are made with baking powder, but I went the yeasted way. Fermentation will result in a superior flavour. In Benin they steam them wrapped up in banana leaf parcels. I imagine they would add great flavour to the bun.

I decided to use corn meal instead of the corn starch because I wanted a slightly different texture and flavour. The recipe would work just as well with either ingredient.

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.


50g (1.75oz) corn meal

30g (1oz) corn flour

20g (0.7oz) sugar

5g (0.17oz) salt

300g (10.6oz) water for cooking

160g (5.6oz) water for the dough

150g (5.3oz) rice flour

3g (0.1oz) instant dry yeast or 3.6g (0.12oz) active dry yeast or 9g (0.3oz) fresh yeast


  1. In a pan combine the corn meal, corn flour, sugar, salt, and 300g (10.6oz) water. Cook on medium heat whilst whisking for around 4 minutes until the mix gets thick. Do not cook it for long after it thickens.
  2. Transfer to a bowl, cover and leave to cool down completely. This must come down to room temperature. My kitchen was around 24C (75F). If your kitchen is warmer or cooler, then your final dough may ferment more rapidly or slowly.
  3. Add the water and yeast. Mix well. Add the rice flour and mix until no dry flour left.
  4. Cover and ferment for 1 – 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Spoon or pipe into clingfilm lined moulds.
  6. Leave to ferment for 30 minutes.
  7. Place in a preheated steamer, cover, and steam for 20 minutes.
  8. Leave to cool down. Remove from the moulds and enjoy with your favourite stew or soup.

Check out some more Baking World Tour videos while you’re at it.


Keep in mind that the conditions in each kitchen are different, so fermentation times may vary for you. It is up to the baker to control the bread and react accordingly.

Watch the video here

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