Palm sugar honeycomb cake – bánh bò

In the previous post about the traditional cakes in Vietnam, I did mention about bánh bò, honeycomb cake or “crawling cake” (if we translate word by word, “bò” means crawling)! “Crawling” because during the fermentation, the dough is rising and slowly crawling over the edge of the bowl, but that happens when the natural yeast in use, with the baking powder – the dough is no able to crawl anywhere!

According to the geographical locations, the chef’s recipe…we have the varieties of honeycomb cakes: without coconut milk, with regular sugar, with palm sugar, with narural yeast or without, steamed or baked…the taste, the texture varies accordingly! Today I tried for the first time Palm sugar honeycomb cake – a speciality from Mekong Delta, where the palm sugar, the coconut milk are so popular in cake making!

My first trial with palm sugar honeycomb cake – looks quite good to me!
We are heating palm sugar with a bit coconut milk to caramelize, the color of the cake depends on this process
the palm sugar is caramelizing
then adding the coconut milk
I need a sieve to make sure the mixture is smooth
The mixture of caramelized palm sugar with coconut milk
The mixture of dry ingredients: tapioca, rice flours and baking powder
Adding the sugar into the flours, stir well and again we need to sieve
Here we go – the mixture of flours, baking powder, palm sugar and coconut milk
My big surprise – so many eggs required in this recipe!
Adding a well-mixed eggs into the mixture of flours, coconut milk…and leave it to rest for 50′
Bake it at 180oC for 50 minutes

To pour the mixture of honeycomb cake into the mould requires few things: to heat the mould long in advance in the oven and we pour it through the big-hole sieve, I was told only doing that the cake will have a good texture and the look as below photo. They call it “rễ tre”, i.e bamboo roots (!), and it means the cake is perfectly risen!

I like the taste of this cake thanks to the palm sugar, the color and the texture: soft, tender and chewy!

I’m sharing the recipe here, I found it in the internet, so I’m not sure is it the best one or not. I do make some changes by increasing palm sugar, a little bit more, because the original – lack of sweetness, according to the author. I may do this cake again, instead of coconut milk and palm sugar, I will probably use pandan leaf flavor, but I’m not sure about using the natural yeast in my next trial, will see! Here the recipe just for my record, but you can try, it’s always fun!

The ingredients

  • Palm sugar 400 gr. (originally 360 gr. but it lacks of adequate sweetness
  • Coconut milk 500 ml.
    • Caramelize sugar with 20-30 ml. coconut milk until the golden dark color
    • Add the remaining coconut milk
    • Cooling down before adding the flours
  • Tapioca flour 240 gr.
  • Rice flour 20 gr.
  • Baking powder 11 gr.
    • Mix all dry ingredients together
    • Pour the mixture of sugar and coconut milk into flours, stir well and sieve it
  • Vanilla 5ml.
  • Egg 6 pcs.
    • Mix well eggs, sieve it to get a smooth egg liquid
    • Add the eggs into the mixture of sugar, coconut milk and flours, don’t forget vanilla.
    • Spray the mould and heat the mould in advance
    • Pour the cake mixture into the mould through the big-hole sieve in order to get the good texture as in a below photo.

This honeycomb cake is very tasty and its fragrance of the palm sugar, the dark-golden color is simply amazing! This’s my first trial, I still need some improvements but quite happy with the result. As mentioned earlier I may go for second try but with different ingredients, different technique! Cheers!

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