December 8, 2023

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This Iconic Vietnamese Cake Is Bouncy, Flavorful, and Gluten-Free

This Iconic Vietnamese Cake Is Bouncy, Flavorful, and Gluten-Free

With its crisp golden brown crust and ring-like form, bánh bò nướng may well resemble Bundt cake to the untrained eye. But slice in and you are going to see a vivid eco-friendly crumb with a mesmerizing honeycomb structure. Built with starchy tapioca flour, this gluten-free of charge cake speedily sets in the oven, fossilizing a network of vertical air tunnels that will make up its wished-for honeycomb result. The concluded cake has a stringy and bouncy texture with a singularly enjoyable elasticity that you can only genuinely reach when cooking or baking with glutinous rice flour (like mochiko) or tapioca flour.

This Vietnamese dessert is like an edible slice of jade (my favorite gem), with a verdant translucency, and it fascinated me from an early age. I first tasted the cake while going to my Vietnamese grandmother, Ah Ma, in Montreal. Ah Ma lived methods absent from Montreal’s Chinatown, and each and every working day was a culinary journey. She taught me how to decide the most effective durian and the juiciest rambutan, lychee, and longan, and how to make espresso with a phin filter. I generally seemed forward to the Vietnamese desserts she picked out or made at property, like chè thái, durian ice cream, avocado shakes, and of study course, bánh bò nướng.

When I started writing my cookbook, Modern day Asian Baking at Residence, in 2021, I understood I experienced to include just one of Vietnam’s most legendary and well known cakes, even if it wasn’t the correct recipe that Ah Ma used to bake.

Modern-day Asian Baking at Household

$22.00, Amazon

Bánh bò nướng is section of a full class of Asian cakes made with tapioca flour, like Indonesian bika ambon and bolu karamel, Singaporean kuih bingka, and Chinese bai tang gao. The cake seems to have originated in Vietnam amongst the late 1800s and early 1900s and is a variety of bánh bò (Vietnamese steamed cake that resembles cow udders). Street distributors created their steamed cakes vibrant in buy to bring in buyers—often curious small children passing by. This could explain why bánh bò nướng is frequently a emerald inexperienced and flavored with pandan leaves, which lends the cake notes of leafy vanilla and younger coconut.

Functioning on my have recipe made me notice how much food science is involved in making this common cake. While I have a doctorate in actual physical remedy, I am no food stuff chemist, so I sought responses from associates of my well-liked world wide baking community, Subtle Asian Baking (SAB):“What creates the air bubble tunnels in a honeycomb cake?” I requested them.

A person dwelling baker and blogger, Claire, answered, noting that Western cakes can tunnel, but “it’s normally regarded a oversight [unless it’s a crumpet]. The crumb is basically a ‘fossil’ of the air when the cake [is] established. To make a tunnel, the [carbon dioxide] air bubbles from baking powder would have to increase as a result of the batter just before the cake totally sets, but following the batter has solidified ample to maintain the tunnel.”

Daniel Lee, a delicate matter physicist-biophysicist and postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley, added, “It’s about the viscoelasticity of the batter. The tapioca starch makes a batter which is viscous but will not have the gluten framework or elasticity (like a bread dough would have). When the warm cake pan contacts the batter, the baking powder reacts and bubbles go straight up, tunneling instead than sitting in location, which is in all probability also why a lot of honeycomb cake recipes phone for a preheated pan.”

As I labored to produce the honeycomb cake for my cookbook, I began by screening recipes shared by SAB customers. 1 member, Joedy Tran, is a learn of Vietnamese household cooking and generously helped troubleshoot my recipe as I figured out the ideal way to make this delightfully chewy cake. I also consulted Christopher Tan, cookbook author and culinary teacher, who observed working with constant and even bottom warmth is the most critical element to achieving a tunnelled texture.

Although the batter is deceptively simple to whip up, the outcomes can be time-delicate. When making a honeycomb cake, be structured, have all your ingredients established out, and operate rapidly, if you can. Methods include preheating a pan in the oven until eventually it’s burning warm and including the baking powder to the batter at the quite end, suitable before you sieve the batter into the incredibly hot pan.

Baking bánh bò nướng at dwelling provides me so considerably pleasure and comfort and ease, and these days, I’m delighted to be equipped to share this vibrant dish with my spouse and children. My eight-calendar year-outdated son loves chewy foodstuff that remind him of tapioca pearls. The joy of squishing and ripping slices of bánh bò nướng aside is one of the several things that can entice him away from his beloved video video games.

When you make your personal honeycomb cake, truly feel free to experiment with other flavored extracts and colours (but really don’t skip the miso in this recipe, as it balances the sweetness of the cake with a trace of salt and a pop of umami). Attempt swapping out the pandan extract with ube extract to make a enjoyment and really purple honeycomb cake. Or use blue spirulina or butterfly pea flower to make a awesome cerulean honeycomb cake. Right after all, isn’t baking all about empowering your artistic aspect and bringing pleasure, colour, and beautiful flavors to on your own and some others?

A single-Pot Honeycomb Cake

Kat Lieu

Initially Appeared on Epicurious