Friday, February 19, 2010

SWEET COCONUT CAKE ~ KUIH BINGKA GANDUM


I falter at the word cake to describe Malaysian 'cakes' or kuih (pronounced ko-weh). Ours, in culture, are very much more like the Spanish tapas, like snacks, served and eaten at any time of the day.

In taste and texture, most kuih are sweet and when they are sweet they are also sticky, dense and heavy with the heady fragrance of coconut cream and pandan leaves combined. They are very rarely leavened with baking powder. So these are not light and fluffy  'cakes'.

And never are they used as a centre piece to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other occasion. Never are candles poked into them and never are they decorated with cream or sugar flowers. And I dare say never. I believe the idea of celebrating a birthday came into being with the introduction of a western cake. 


At most our kuih are wrapped in banana leaves and served with a coconut cream sauce or a palm sugar syrup. For amusement we tint them in bright tropical colours and add layers for pain joy and distraction. And never are they served whole. They are always served sliced usually in diamond shapes. And they are, more than not, steamed rather than baked.


Moistness does not factor in a kuih discussion because stickiness and chewiness overwhelms any question of moistness or dryness. We like our kuih dense, sticky and with a good bite to it not crumbly or airy. Good with a heavily sweetened cup of frothed milk tea and the ever popular past time of political bashing.


This kuih made of plain wheat flour, coconut milk and eggs and sugar is one of the simplest of all kuih yet I could not get it quite right. At least not the way I wanted it to be. Normally this is made without the pandan so it would have been a whitish cream coloured kuih rather than green. But I like green and I like pandan.

The best one I have made was more than 20 years ago while we were living in London and I had used a canned oily coconut cream. The whole upper floor of the house that we rented was filled with the sweet fragrance of coconut as it baked and I could do nothing else but take long, deep and sweet breaths and tap my fingers impatiently. It was heady, totally wild and aromatic while the edges rose to become a thick golden, crusty rim.

I have never been able to replicate it since. I wish I knew what I did right. I will try again. But in the meantime this is pretty good in itself.




The reicpe ~


2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup castor sugar
4 eggs
440 ml coconut milk or cream
juice from 3 or 4 pandan leaves


beat eggs and sugar till light. Add flour and mix in until all flour in incorporated. Add in the coconut milk and pandan juice and mix well.


Pour into a 9 x 6 inch rectangular pan lined with baking paper for easy removal.


Bake at 170 for 30 to 40 minutes until firm and the top is golden brown. Remove and allow to col completely before cutting and serving.



54 comments:

KennyT said...

It looks sooooooo creamy! I would love to have a piece

Allie and Pattie said...

AAARGH!! I really want to try these but WHERE do I get pandan leaves in NC??? They look fabulous!
xoxo Pattie

3 hungry tummies said...

No more kuih please! you are torturing me here! :(

Anncoo said...

I want! I want! Must bookmark it~ looks so yummy!

Sanjana said...

Zurin these cakes look so amazing I wanna stick my head into the computer screen! I love how you subtly and very effectively described the differences between Malaysian cakes and Western cakes. Simply divine!

Mary said...

The cake looks wonderful to Western eyes. Pandan leaves are not easy to get here, but if I beg and plead with my Asian grocer perhaps he'll get some for me. I'd really like to taste this. Is the taste and texture similar to Nian Gao?

Fimère said...

il est parfait ce gâteau, j'adore la texture bravo
bonne journée

chapot said...

You have excite my curiosity with this cake, I have read every world and now, the only thing I want is to have just a small piece of this cake, I am so frustated to just have it on my screen and no possibility to taste it, you're so cruel !

Barbara said...

Interesting, Zurin. Almost like a thick custard. Looks delicious!

Federica said...

Che bella ricetta!!! i tuoi post sono sempre meravigliosi e golosi!!

Ps:grazie delle tue visite nel mio blog, mi fa molto piacere!!
un abbraccio!!
ciao ciao ciao :))

Trix said...

It really does look like a custard inside. It's so appealing to me!! I can actually get frozen pandan leaves - is that ok? How do I get the juice - just thaw them and squeeze?

Sook said...

Oh boy, this cake looks so moist! Just the way I like it! Yum!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Zu,your kuih looks very good and I am sure it is as good as the one you've made in London - perhaps the memory was so overwhelming because you were having it there where this is not readily available?...

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Oh yes, for the uninitiated, "kuih" is so hard to explain. It has to be eaten and experienced! ;) Zu, these look so gooood! I can only imagine divine the one you made in London was. Canned oily coconut cream? Hmmmm ...

Pam said...

How interesting! And what pretty pictures!

Trissa said...

Thank you for the introduction to Malaysian Kuih! Very informative and more than that, it's just making me hungry!

Anonymous said...

mummy...i wannnnnnnnnnnnnntt. sigh....i love green too..esp now that we're in the desert! ..how i MISS green!i was practically making doa to see various shades of green today LOL...here the green is pine tree green, and very yellowish, dull green. if in the midwest, there are so many shades of green that I want to eat LOL

Allie and Pattie,

do you mean NC as in North Carolina? if yes, you can go to Asian grpcery stores..they're usually in the freezer section. You

Trix,
I use the frozen one too. what i do is wash, cut off the base about 4 inches off, cut up toss in blender add a lil bit water and BUZZ. then strain to get the pandan juice.

Juli

zurin said...

Tq ladies and Kenny! for you sweet and such keen comments...I'm blessed. (^_^)

Allie n Pattie,
I think my daughter just answered ur question and ..I hope u find some ^^

Trix,
I think ur question has been answered by my dear daughter too. ^^

zurin said...

Juli, I lknow ^^ green is beautiful (^_^)

zurin said...

Mary, Im nt sure n I am ashamed to say I have never tasted nian gao...but my guess is nian gao is much stickier because its made form glutionous rice flour...so it wld be much chewier. this is more custard- like but a heavy solid custard with a good bite but nt chewy. this can be made without pandan n the texture will nt be affected at all.

Elin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elin said...

Zurin ..your kuih bingka 's texture is so smooth...mmmm a delish alright! A piece please......

Angie's Recipes said...

Coconut cake with pandan sounds and looks so exotic and heavenly to me!

Kate at Serendipity said...

Zurin, you're introducing me to all sorts of exotic things. This looks amazing!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Funny! I don't think I've heard of kuih bingka gandum!!?? I've probably tasted it before without realizing that that was IT! No worries! Yours looks good, good enough to me!

I love your description of our Malaysian kuih! Gotta agree I do falter at explaining the word "kuih," too! Somehow, I've never associated it with the Western idea of cakes, y'know the light & fluffy type. It's definitely true they are two different breeds.

Y'know what, my Bahasa Malaysia is rather poor. But, I find it amusing when people spell it "kueh" instead of "kuih." Why!!?? Which one is the correct one?

Keep it up!

Su-yin said...

I don't think I've had this kuih before - am intrigued! Looks really good though! :)

I agree that it's really hard to explain the word "kuih", I've tried a few times and have never been able to do it very well. Your explanation is much better than mine, lol.

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Aiyo, I like this lar, I use to buy this from pasar pagi. Thanks for sharing, I would love to try this out after CNY.

Karen @ Citrus and Candy said...

Hehe I like green too. And I definitely love the pandan! These look so good but I don't remember ever eating them. Now I must try!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

I love coconut. and I love cake....so I love coconut cake!

Daniela said...

Una ricetta molto interessante, complimenti.
Un abbraccio Daniela.

pierre said...

zurin this looks so scrumptious and creamy congratulations

Linda said...

Oh Zu...I want to taste this so badly!
It looks wonderful!
L~xo

Kathleen said...

It looks perfect..I can't imagine the taste..

Chow and Chatter said...

oh looks great I need to try making some Malaysian cakes

tigerfish said...

The pandan must have added a light refreshing flavor to the kuih...

zurin said...

Pei Lin, tq, Kuih is the new spelling ..kueh is the old spelling..(I think) LOL...I get confused myself...new words...new terms...so difficult to keep up! heh (^_^)

pigpigscorner said...

Love the texture of kuih! I have to get my hands on some pandan leaves and make some!

ICook4Fun said...

Zurin, this is the only cake 'kuih' that my husband will eat. I think maybe it is bake and not steam :)

MaryMoh said...

Yes, this is one of my favourites. It's quite along time I have not made this. It's simple and delicious. Yours look neat and delicious...mmm

Percicilan said...

Wah I just ate Kuih Bingka pasar TTDI tadi.. from My Little Cake shop tu..
sedap.. but then again, nothing beats trying for myself how to make kan.. so thanks for the recipe!!!!

Deeba PAB said...

FASCINATING ... love this and love the connect! Looks yum!

La Table De Nana said...

I have never seen a cake with this beautiful consistency..Almost like a cream too:)

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Ahh this is so true Zurin! I never really thought about not being able to eat these cakes for birthdays. I do love them though, the pandan is so moreish and aromatic! :D

vickys said...

I love kuih bingka ubi (is that the cassava one?) hahaha! it looks similar to this but it's got shredded cassava in it!

Marysol said...

Oh dear.
If Heaven could be sliced, this is what it would look like.
I love the delicate green color, and how perfectly dense and creamy it looks.
You're right, this is not cake, this is certainly better.

I hope to find Pandan leaves, very, very soon.

Divina Pe said...

I always love desserts with coconut. They're simply irresistible.

wendyywy said...

U know what we call the white version,"Fatty pork". Just a nickname. Not trying to disgust u.
No pun intended.

zurin said...

LOL Wendy, really!? I never knew that ...lol ...m not disgusted...come to think of it I can see why. Ive leanrt something new today!

Su-Lin said...

Oh how lovely! I've not tried this kuih before - going to have to make it. Thanks for the recipe!

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... said...

Zurin, may I ask if the instructions to beat the eggs until light, is it like making sponge cakes? that light?
Or just beat until frothy?
Cause I read in other malay sites, it's pukul macam buat telur dadar.
I'm hoping to make this tomorrow :)
The fatty pork version but using your recipe:)

zurin said...

Sorry wendy i ist saw ur comment. JUst beat till frothy. i hope it turns out good. lemme know k :)))

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... said...

Zurin,
I made this 2 days back and it didn't turn out too well.
When I looked at ur recipe, there's no amount for the pandan juice, so I bulked up my coconut milk with water until 500ml to compensate the pandan juice (wanted to make it pandanless).
I beat the eggs for 2 minutes on high, and when the kuih came out, it had this thin cakey crust that I like, but the interior is a bit too firm for kuih. How much pandan juice was it actually?

Later then only did I find out, the version that I wanted was actually bingka beras. When my MIL ate the kuih, she said, oh you made bengkang :) She recognised it immediately even w/o the pandan. It was fragrant even w/o pandan. Just the firmness issue, the level of sweetness was perfect.

zurin said...

Wendy, the pandan juice was very little maybe about 1/4 cup. and I used package coconut milk. not fresh. I did not use a mixer to beat the eggs because you dont need to beat it too long, just until they are mixed evenly thats all. In regards to it being too firm...you cld reduce the flour a little.

benkang and bingka in Malay are actually the same word pronounced diferently by different people and means teh same thing ~ a kuih made of wheat or rice flour in combination with coconut milk and sugar baked or steamed. :D

ive never made bingka beras. mine is made form wheat flour as in the recipe not rice flour so its definitely not bingka beras. Beras means rice. and there is no rice flour in my recipe. hope this helps and I hope u find the bingka beras recipe. :)))

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... said...

Thanks for the reply.
I used Ayam brand boxed coconut milk, bcos the fresh one that I bought smelt sour (in just 1 hour??? Just hard to believe right? I saw them just pouring into the bag when I got that)

Bengkang is northern, and my MIL knows the kuihs by the northern names, even tepung pelita here is called differently.

I already bookmarked a bingka beras recipe. Thanks for your concern.
But I will try your recipe again, next time when the craving for something pandanny occurs, and definately will not leave out the pandan juice.

Thanks a lot!!!! :)
Yeah, Shopworldkitchen (Corningware, corelle, pyrex) site is having sale for mother's day. Free delivery and less $20 on dining sets. Good deal.

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