When I moved to Belgium in the autumn of 1995, one of the things I brought with me was a cookbook. I knew it was going to be of good use and I was right. Look at the condition of the cookbook today. Curled up corners and scribbles here and there inside the book 😀
By the way, I have tried the Kajang satay recipe and it was great! The simple steps in making the Hainanese Chicken Rice turned out – always – perfect. I have adapted the recipe by adding more aromatic herbs and spices over the years, but preserving the method. The recipe is a definite keeper 😉
What I like about the Cookbook is the 5-part origins: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Nyonya and Eurasian. A perfect one-stop reference if you want to make a plate of Nasi Lemak one day and Braised Chicken in Ginger Wine, or Chicken Biryani or Bubur Cha Cha or Curry Kapitan the next day. I have leafed through the pages millions of times, and just last week, I was trying to look for a steamed cake recipe – and quite urgently, actually. The plot thickens as you continue reading…
It was almost ZILCH on each origin, except for the Chinese chapter. Only two steamed cake recipes 😦
Oh great! The idea was there, anyway, but I needed to pep up the dull looking steamed cake a bit more, hence, the quest continued.…
Chinese and Steaming
I have never steamed sweet cakes before (Steamed savoury cakes, yes); hence, I was pressed with a challenge that kept my adrenaline going.
What is it about Chinese and steaming? Which reminded me of a Chinese colleague, who relocated to Belgium in 2007 for a 3-year work contract. During the years he was in Belgium, he rented an apartment somewhere in Brussels. His apartment was fully furnished. His small kitchen was fully equipped with a glass-ceramic cooking stove, kitchen cabinets, pots, pans, utensils, dishwasher and oven. Yes, oven!
My other colleagues liked to tease him. From one conversation to another, we ended – one day – talking about cakes! It all started when a Russian colleague brought to work a delicious homemade Poppy Seed Cake on her birthday. It was a delicious treat, without a doubt. Okay, she baked the cake. She lived in an apartment somewhere in Brussels. She had an oven.
And the Chinese colleague? Well, his oven was immaculate and impeccably clean. He showed us some pictures of his apartment.
Russian colleague to Chinese colleague: “You have a nice oven, so when are you going to bake us a homemade cake?”
Chinese colleague: “Erm… I’ve never used my oven”
Russian colleague: “What? You rented a fully furnished apartment with a built-in kitchen, and you never used your oven? What if you want to eat something homemade – a home-baked cake, for instance?”
Chinese colleague: “In China, if we want to eat a cake, we go to a shop or a bakery or even a roadside hawker to buy that”
Belgian colleague: “Huh? Have you never baked a cake then?”
Chinese colleague: “Never. In China, we do not eat a lot of cakes, and if we do, we eat steamed cakes, hence, an oven is not necessary.”
There you go! Steamed cake is synonymous to Chinese, and the statement came directly from the mouth of a Chinese. I did not make it up. 🙂
Oh by the way, yesterday, I steamed a cake – for the first time ever – in my 2-month old electric steamer! I was amazed with the result and I would like to share with you my maiden experience in steaming a sponge cake. I was surprised how easy it was, and I recommend this to all busy Mums (like me ;-)) who are craving for something not too sweet, and yet light and ready in a jiffy.
I got the recipe from this book: 500 Chinese Recipes [paperback] – Jenni Fleetwood (Contributing Editor)/ page 242 with some adaptations. I made some lemon and fresh ginger syrup to drizzle on top of the cake, as the cake on its own was quite dry. I was not at all disappointed with the result. My three guys were impressed. 😀Ingredients – (Serves 8) 175 g / 1.5 cups plain flour (I used self-raising flour) 5 ml / 1 tsp baking powder (I used 1.25 tsp baking powder) 1.5 ml / ¼ tsp baking soda (I did not use this, but instead increased my count of baking powder) 3 large eggs 115 g / 2/3 cup soft light brown sugar (I used Cassonade Graeffe light brown sugar – sifted to remove lumps) 45 ml / 3 Tbsp walnut oil (I used corn oil) 30 ml / 2 Tbsp golden syrup (I used MELI runny honey) 5 ml / 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used Vahiné vanilla powder) Zest of 1 lemon (this was not in the recipe) ¼ cup dried cranberries – roughly chopped (this was not in the recipe) Syrup (own recipe) – 3 cm knob fresh ginger (crushed) Lemon (zest and juice from one lemon) Ground seeds from 5 cardamom pods 2/3 cup water ¾ cup unrefined raw cane sugar (organic) 1.5 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Brush some vegetable oil inside the cake pan/ dish.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until thick and frothy. Beat in the corn oil and honey, and then set the mixture aside for about 30 minutes.
3. Add the sifted flour and baking powder to the egg mixture with the vanilla powder, and beat rapidly with an electric whisk to form a thick batter that is free from lumps.
4. Add the lemon zest and chopped dried cranberries and fold these in the batter.
5. Pour the batter into the greased cake pan/ dish. Set the timer on for 30 minutes. The cake is cooked when the sponge springs back when gently pressed with a finger. Leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.
6. Making the syrup: Place sugar, ground cardamom seeds and crushed ginger knob in a pan with 2/3 cup water. Heat gently until the sugar dissolved. Add lemon zest and juice of one lemon. Bring to boil and cook for 3 minutes. Mix 1.5 tsp cornflour with 2 Tbsp water and whisk into the syrup. Simmer for a few minutes until the syrup thickens slightly. Done!
Why I made this steamed sponge cake
A blogger friend has invited me to participate in a contest two weeks ago. I have never entered in one before, let alone, a culinary contest. I was not sure if I had the time or even, imagination to venture into this world of steaming hot cakes. Well, as you have read my post this far, I was wrong, because my imagination went wild and I had that one hour to spare 😉
Therefore, Miss B, I am submitting this entry to the Aspiring Bakers #25 – Steaming Hot Cakes (Nov 2012) which you are hosting this month.
Related posts –
- My Semi-Vegetarian Radish Cake….accomplishing one of my childhood favourite dream plates…AND a tragic ending…
- My ambitious ELEVEN homemade dishes…. Gone in 30 minutes!