Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pandan Honeycomb Cake. A Vietnamese treat..Banh Bo Nuong

Pandan Honeycomb cake

i had no intention, but...
 this has Holiday Springtime written all over it.

is this cool?...or what?!

this is a might say..."unique cake".
a little difficult to make, but totally out of the ordinary, interesting and fun.  something different to amaze your foodie friends for the holiday parties.
straight out of the oven it looks like a normal cake with a lovely crisp outer shell, but when you cut into it the bright green is a shocker and the honeycomb is fascinating.  the tapioca flour gives it a slightly chewy texture and the pandan smells of fresh baked vanilla...or something from the vanilla family.
friends and family were amazed with the bright green, the different texture and the subtle flavor of pandan.   "what is pandan? and why is this so green?  but i like it!"
the green color is from the pandan extract.  it's found in quite a few Asian desserts. Green?...i suppose to imitate the color of the pandan leaves.  flavor?...i couldn't really tell you what the flavor of "pandan" is, but the cake tastes like it has vanilla in it...and low and behold?...i read HERE that it is sometimes referred to as the "Asian vanilla".
the honeycomb effect is created by using single acting baking powder...did you know there was such a thing?...or that it makes a difference?  this sounds elementary, but... single acting works once.  it activates only with the wet ingredients.  double acting works twice...once with the wet and again with the heat of baking.  don't quote me.  i'm not a chef or a scientist.  i'm just passing on information i came across.

i would just about call this one a success.  i DID have a horrible failure (lovely photo at the bottom) on the first attempt, but with perseverance i conquered the Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake.
well, at least it looks as though i did.  i know i could do better and i will try again.  as you can see it fell a little bit on the bottom,...

but when i sliced this puppy open? ...SHAZAMMM! 
i sure did get the honeycomb effect.  that's what i was looking for...


aka Banh Bo Nuong
many thanks to Pinkie Food blog with step by step photos

200ml thick coconut milk (1/2 can)
150g sugar
6 eggs
200g tapioca starch/flour
5-6 drops pandan extract/paste.  i used 1/2 tsp plus a few drops

preheat oven to 350F degrees
in a small sauce pan heat coconut milk, sugar and extract until the sugar dissolves.  set aside to cool completely
in a separate bowl, mix the tapioca starch and baking powder.
in another separate bowl, lightly beat the do not want bubbles or foam.  i have read in many other recipes you should beat just until they look mixed.  one tip is to keep your whisk touching the bottom of the bowl while gently mixing.
pour cooled coconut mixture into eggs and gently combine well.
***at this time put your greased/sprayed cooking vessel (bundt pan) into the oven to preheat***
gradually add the tapioca mixture to the egg/coconut mixture and quickly, but gently, beat until just dissolved/combined.  
NOTE...i have found that tapioca starch is a hard one to combine.  i sifted it in and quickly, but gently whisked until very few lumps were left.  then, when i strained the batter into the pan i pushed through the remaining lumps.
remove hot baking pan from the oven.  strain batter through sieve into the hot baking pan and put in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  i let mine sit in the budnt pan for about 10-15 minutes...then turned it over.  i read that might help it from falling.  i was anxious and removed the cake from the pan after about 20-25 minutes with a little tap on the counter.  YAY, no sticking. 

in conclusion...there are so many different recipes and methods for this cake.  i have tried 2 so far and this one seems to work well.  i'll let you know if i find a new easy one.

but for now...i'm very pleased with this unique Vietnamese treat!

as you can see, i opted for the heavy Nordic Ware bundt pan.  this would be my suggestion for a first try.  i think i'll try the 9 inch cake pan next time with this same recipe.

above is my first encounter with Bahn Bo Nuong that i purchased in Little Saigon a few weeks ago.
i had never seen anything like it.  i was fascinated.  i did a little research and gave it a go...
the first try ? obvious failure....the middle was...let's just say...gummy bear-ish?  i am not a quitter, so i gave it another try.  HONEYCOMB !  YAY !


Purabi Naha said...

Wow, loved this honeycomb cake. I will try it for sure!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

What a striking cake - stunning color and texture. I can't quite imagine how it must taste. Is it sweet?

Jules and Ruby said...

hi sure is interesting...i hope you give it a try., it's not really too sweet at all. it's a hard cake to describe...AND it's not even cake-like really. it's just different and fun. people liked it so i'll be making another in the next few days. hope you try it some day.

Afternoontea said...

Your honeycomb looks really Nice ,
have tried another recipe from Malaysia using condensed milk.

Jules and Ruby said...

hi Afternoontea...funny you should mention that...i just made that one and will be posting it soon. i don't know which one i like better, but the Malaysian is a little easier to make. both have that great honeycomb look and slightly chewy texture.

Kiri Ren said...

Hello! Your Banh Bo Nuong is so pretty :)
I've been making it for a few years and had some different experiments to share. I've found it turns to (as my mom put it) Gummi Bear cake when too much pandan was used. It works best with only a tiny bit of the pandan!
I've also found that Vanilla works very well and doesn't leave it gummy.

Kiri Ren said...

Ah and I forgot to add, making your own single acting baking powder works so much better than the pre-made stuff its ridiculous. its 1 tsp baking soda to 2 tsp cream of tartar.

Have fun!!

Jules and Ruby said...

hi Keri...hey, thanks so much for the tips. i did try the "homemade" single acting soda on the first one. i know that wasn't the culprit, but i wanted to use the real Alsa and do exactly as the recipe said for the first one.
i wish i could try yours. thanks for the great info and comments

VanPham said...

Hi! Thanks so much for sharing! I made it and it turned out awesome! (^o^) Here is my report :)

Jules and Ruby said...

HI VAN !!!, it looks great. i'm so glad you came back to report and pass along your blog. thanks so much. i hope to hear from you again...jules

Anonymous said...

Hi! Just bought the ingredients to try making this today... I can't seem to find Alsa baking powder in Australia so i'm going to try the sub method of baking soda and cream of tartar.
Fingers crossed it works! Will let you know how it turns out.
Btw, Do you know what size eggs I should be using? Does it matter?

Anonymous said...

Hi! Just bought the ingredients to try making this today... I can't seem to find Alsa baking powder in Australia so i'm going to try the sub method of baking soda and cream of tartar.
Fingers crossed it works! Will let you know how it turns out.
Btw, Do you know what size eggs I should be using? Does it matter?

D said...

Alsa can be bought at Vietnamese asian stores, Marrickville, Bankstown, Cabramatta, Canley Heights.

D said...

or read this:

Anonymous said...

Hi so do I substitute the exact 1 tsp bs to 2 tsp ct if I don't have the Alsa baking powder? How much is 1 pkt of Alsa? Equivalent to 1 tbsp? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi so do I substitute the exact 1 tsp bs to 2 tsp ct if I don't have the Alsa baking powder? How much is 1 pkt of Alsa? Equivalent to 1 tbsp? Thanks.

Jules and Ruby said...

hi Anonymous...sorry i just saw your question...
as Kiri Ren said in comments you can make single acting by mixing 1 tsp baking soda with 2 tsp cream of tartare. i will go check how much is in a packet...okay, it says 2 1/2 tsp on the packet. i hope that helps

D said...

look like Double Acting Baking Powder also works by using Clabber Girl baking powder?

D said...

"Rumford Baking Powder's reaction is approximately 70% with moisture (or in the bowl) and the rest when heat is applied. Clabber Girl's reaction is approximately 40% with moisture and the rest when heat is applied."

Anonymous said...

As a Vietnamese person, I applaud you for trying it and then successfully recreating it! I also saw that you made Banh Gan, and was very impressed.

Nicky said...

It's not dairy free if it has 6 eggs. What would you recommend as a substitute for it to be dairy free?

Unknown said...

I often buy a slice of this cake at a local Asian food market. I can't wait to try baking it! Thanks so much for posting the recipe. By the way, to the poster who said the eggs make the recipe not dairy free, you are confused. Dairy free means no products from cows like milk, butter, etc. Eggs are an animal protein, but do not come from cows!

Jules and Ruby said...

hi Nicki...i do not consider eggs to be "dairy"....and i'm sorry, i am not a pro at this cake, but i don't think you could substitute anything. it is a ver temperamental cake to bake. maybe you could find something "pandan" flavor that doesn't use eggs?. thanks, hope you find something delicious

Jules and Ruby said...

hi Gigi...thanks for clearing up the egg thing. hey, if you try it let me know how yours comes out. i have the recipe out to remind me to try it again. i love the pandan things.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jules - I made my first attempt at this dessert today and it turned out exactly like your first attempt... :) :|| What did you do differently the second time around that gave you success?

Thank you,


Anonymous said...


I found that if you beat the batter too much and there are lots of air bubbles,it would make it flat. I don't use a wisk but I use my hands to squeeze and mix the batter. It's a little more messy but I had a flat cake before using a wisk and a mixer.

Krystle said...

I just tried making this twice and it was a total fail! both times flat and gummy. What should i do?

Anonymous said...

Eggs Are Not a Dairy Product. Eggs are not a dairy product. ... The definition of dairy includes foods produced from the milk of mammals, such as cows and goats (1). Basically, it refers to milk and any food products made from milk, such as cheese, cream, butter and yogurt.

The cake is dairy free to be clear, as per the definition of dairy.

Anonymous said...

The Alsa baking powder has wheat flour in the ingredients which makes this not gluten free, which is really bad for someone like me who has Celiac. Best to do the 1 tsp baking soda and 2 tsp cream of tartar.

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