She, who invented this "Burnt Cake" cake, would not have seen an oven. This cake was baked over a fire and under a fire once upon a time long, long ago. Probably in the wet kitchen of a remote kampung that was isolated into the backwaters by vast expanses of paddy fields. The batter would have been poured into a brass 'flower' mould, placed on a fire and covered with a brass lid. Red hot coals would be placed on top of the lid so that the cake was being baked in between the two sources of heat. And this cake is called, in today's namby-pamby world, the "Baked Cake".
Brass moulds are beautiful. And it distributes heat evenly. However, it has become quite impossible to acquire these lovely brass moulds today. They have been replaced by aluminium ones which not only look flimsy and cheap, are insubstantial in weight but are also rather rough around the edges. And they have a very peculiar finish. With a look like they have been given a coat of paint ....aluminium paint. I harbour a fear that they may be toxic. I have fingered them and turned them over and over in my hands many a time..... each time I contemplate on buying them. Then I put them down again and I leave empty handed.
So I have never attempted to make the Kuih Bakar. Until I found these lovely bright red paper cake moulds at Daiso in the exact same pattern of a kuih bakar ~ a flower. I was so excited I felt my brain shudder and shrivel to a point inside of my head.
And the rest they say is in the baking.
The recipe ~
I so want to believe that recipes written for our local cakes are accurate, reliable and true. Or becoming so. That we have learnt the importance of detail and accuracy in recipes. That instructions should be unambiguous. Before a cookbook is published and flaunted in glory. And sold for a price in bookshops around the country.
I dream on.
So here is the recipe after much necessary adjustments ~ It turned out quite delicious. It is a fragrant cake, creamy smooth in texture with a nutty crust and has the bite that we do so covet.
Makes enough for two 6 1/2 inch moulds with 200 ml extra batter that I kept in the fridge for another bake. You might want to halve the recipe for one 7to 8 inch round pan.
Pre-heat oven to 180 C
500 ml coconut cream
200 ml water
8 fresh pandan leaves (each about 15 inches in length), snipped
100 ml water
250 gm granulated sugar
300gm All Purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp gound cumin, optional
1 tsp ground fennel, optional
2-3 T sesame seeds
2 T margarine
Combine coconut cream and 200 ml of room temperature water. Keep aside
Place 100 ml water in a blender, throw in the snipped pandan leaves and blend until the leaves are fine and the whole becomes a thick juice. Strain the liquid through a strainer, squeezing the ground leaves. Discard the squeezed ground leaves. Pour the strained pandan juce into the coconut cream mix. Keep aside.
Sift flour and salt together and add spices if you use them. I did not. H would cringe.
Beat eggs and sugar together with a whisk until well combined but do not over beat so that it becomes too frothy. A little froth is ok. Add the coconut cream and pandan mixture and stir to combine. Add the sifted flour mix and using the whisk fold in the flour mix into the mixture until there are no lumps left. To be sure strain the whole mixture through a sieve to completely remove any lumps.
I used two 6 1/2 inch moulds placed on a baking tray. I had about 200 ml left over which I kept in the refrigerator for baking in paper cups tomorrow.
Put 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoon of magarine into each mould. Place the moulds in the oven and heat until the magarine melts completely and browns a little around the edges. Take the pans/moulds out and swirl so that the bottom of the mould is completely covered with the fat.
Pour the batter into each mould up to the brim over the melted magarine. (Make sure the moulds (if you are using paper moulds) are placed on a baking tray for support.
Put into oven and after about 7 minutes check to see if the sides are beginning to firm up. If they are take them out from oven and sprinkle sesame seeds all over the tops generously. Place into oven again.
Continue baking for a total of about 35 to 40 minutes or until the centre feels firm and is not wobbly when gently pressed and the edges are a light golden brown and crusty. Allow to cool completely before cutting into wedges and serving.