Sunday, October 7, 2007

Quest to Bake A Bingka Sarang (Honeycomb Cake)

I have been trying to search for a good recipe for Bingka Sarang, also known as Honeycomb Cake. But it is not really that much about the recipe, it is the baking method. For those of you who know this cake, i m sure you understand the frustration of not getting it right. Not chewy, no comb, not enough comb, cake collapsing bla bla bla the list goes on. A good Bingka Sarang is:

Soft yet chewy. Chewy is very very important.
The comb is really obvious coming from bottom of cake to top.
The superb ones the comb is really neat like almost same diameter and spacings.
And the flavour is hmm...how should i put it...let just say very flavourful.

Similar cakes are Hong Kong Cake and Dunlop cake (both are darker brown) and some people called this cake Sarang Semut (Ants' Nest).


Thanks to Mrs Yeo, I finally find the right baking method. It all lies in a pot. The best pot to use is a really old fashioned multi purpose pot (Wan Nern Wor). I walked the two oldest streets in Kuching trying to find this 'magic' pot. Every hardware stores tell me the same thing " where got pot like tat anymore", " no one buys them anymore" , " no one make them anymore" ARGGGGGG...i get so mad at i dont know what. Happen when i cannot find the things that I want when it comes to cooking and baking. I get very UPSET. Almost started ranting at Greg like it is his fault. He quickly drove away from the shops in case i started rolling on the floor.

Well I persevered. I started calling Mum and Mum in law and all ladies over 60. Mum actually gave hers away...WHAAAAHHHH.NOOOOOO....Mum in law said she would try Ah MA, Greg's grandma who is 90+++ and has the oldest collection of antique cooking wares in town (at least to me they are treasures). The answer is Nope, she used a old brass mold (acuan) to do cakes like this, which involves charcoal. Ehmm, no thank you. Oppss, sorry, I have been ranting and I forgot about what is so special about the d*@# pot.

To bake this cake, you must use a short, thick metal pot. You must place the cake tin in the pot and the pot over real fire on the stove. You cook this cake open so that the heat on bottom can push the bubble upwards and thus creating all the combs you want. The last stage of the baking requires you to heat up the cover and multi purpose pot has a solid flat cover that can be put over fire, made of exactly same material as the pot itself. See..where got our pots these days got covers that can be put over fire. And you placed the heated up cover to cover the cake and this is to cook and nicely brown the surface.



I finally calmed down and let my engineering brain ticked. There's got to be another way other than the super elusive pot. So I took out my soup pot and my frying pan of the same diameter and the same material. And use the frying pan as top cover. For those of you who own AMC pots, you can use the 24cm diameter ones with a shorter one as cover. I was really worried that I would burn my kitchen with my experiment so i could hardly dare to take my eyes off the pots. But heay it works, my Bingka Sarang turns out chewy and with the honeycomb. Wooohoo... I feel so smugly smart!

11 comments:

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

whadde??my friend gave me a great recipe but it didn't have combs. it tasted great tho. she insisted tt the secret is to take the cake out halfway thru baking and bang the whole tin on the counter. i said tt's old wives' tale but she did it n it worked! n now u say it's the pot or the way u cook it?!i say it's the leavening, i think u have to leave it for 2 hrs like i did with d bak tong go. i'm going crazy...

Greg Wee said...

Well, this method of baking had proven 3x ok. Will blog about the recipe tomolo. My leavening here is yeast. some recipe has baking powder and soda. Oven cannot achieved the through and through honeycomb. I tried oven ones usually only half half comb like the comb got half way and it stops.you see my picture, that is the cake that i did. It has the comb!

Terri @ hungerhunger said...

haha i actually like d half half comb cos its softer where there's no comb. yes i think yeast gives more comb, like the bak tong go i did.

Greg Wee said...

I think this is more of a baking method. of course the recipe is important. because this is an oldish (lou peng) cake when the oven does not even exist, so i really do believe in the method not the pot. Greg grandma got brass acuan those super heavy type and greg cousin an indonesian says they used cast iron thingy over fire and the combs are soooo beautiful. Definetely no knocking it around on tables, imagine those who sells 50-100 of this daily, dont think banging will give the consistency. btwI just checked my ovens after having them for more than 2 years hehe...i have just the bottom fire. so i will prob try on the bottom fire first than at last stage of baking turn on top and bottom. try it.

pixen said...

hmmm... can we use Fan Force method to have even heat? I have an oven which is made for pizza and cakes ( that needs high rising like sponge cake,etc) besides grilling,etc... maybe for the top heating, the grill inside the oven can be use? I mean cover up the cake mould and bring it closer to the grill...

I'd seen once a relative's mother used an old pot with burning charcoal on top of its' lid to bake cake over a traditional clay stove...

BTW how this special pot looks like? Any pict? maybe I can find it in my area... Penang island.

regards

Greg Wee said...

Hi Pixen almost miss this comment. actually if you like to comment on older posts you can post in the new ones. then sure would not miss.

you are soo kind! i think my fren aunty yeo may have one. the one you talk about is the brass ones that greg's grandma have. yes you can use tat.

the fan forced does not work well. the honeycomb generally reach half way only. to have full ones, i suspect i can use my Teka oven which comes with just bottom fire. bottom fire is important to push the airholes upwards (so bottom hot and top is not), then switch on top and bottom to finish up the whole cake. prob take longer.

Larisa said...

Your cake turn out great! Is that aluminum foil under the cake tin?

NEE said...

Hi.. it is aluminium foil, twisted into a circle to be fitted around the cake tin so that there is minimal hole between tin and pot.

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read that post. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting such stories. I like to read stories like that. By the way add some pics :)

ElyciaSang said...

HI :) I was wondering, when you cook/boil/steam the cake over fire in the pot, do you put stands at the bottom of the tray to hold it? Where can I get the cake's recipe? I really really love this cake :D THANKS!

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