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
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
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.