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Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake (Banh Bo Nuong)

Rachel Thompson, Assistant Account Executive

  • Yield: 10 – 12 servings
  • Total Time:: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Category: Dessert

Ingredients

  • 7 large eggs
  • 7 oz. coconut milk (half a can)
  • 1 or 2 cups of white granulated sugar (Traditionally, this cake is made with 2 cups of sugar, but I find that too sweet, so I tend to use more like 1 ¼ cups of sugar)
  • 14 oz. (1 ¾ cups) Tapioca Flour (alternatively called Tapioca Starch. It’s the same thing)
  • 2 tbsp. single acting baking powder*
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pandan extract
  • Butter/coconut oil/baking spray to grease the pan
  • Tools:
  • Fine metal sieve
  • Circular spring release pan, or bunt cake pan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • A smaller bowl to mix dry ingredients (yes, you actually have to mix them before adding them to the wet ingredients)
  • Saucepan

Directions

    *Note: Most American baking powder is double acting, which causes this cake to be as flat as a pancake.

    To make single acting baking powder:

    • • 2 tbsp. cream of tartar
    • • 1 tbsp. baking soda

    A few hours before/ the night before, make the coconut cream:

  1. Combine the coconut milk and sugar in a saucepan and slowly bring to gentle boil
  2. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved into the milk
  3. Remove pan from heat and allow the coconut cream to cool to room temperature. This mixture can be made up to several days in advance
  4. Cake:

  5. Heat the oven to 350F. Once heated, place greased pan in the oven for at least ten minutes before putting batter in
  6. Beat the eggs for about three minutes to remove as many lumps as possible. Try to avoid creating too many bubbles
  7. Strain eggs through a sieve into the large bowl to remove any lumps. This cake relies on being light, so this is important
  8. Combine all the dry ingredients (tapioca flour, single acting baking powder, salt) and mix thoroughly
  9. Add the coconut cream to the eggs and blend together
  10. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. I like to add the dry ingredients about half a cup at a time, to make it easier to combine
  11. Add the pandam and vanilla extracts
  12. Mix well
  13. Pour the cake batter through the metal sieve into the hot pan. It’s really important to remove any lumps from the batter to help the cake rise
  14. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. For the first 30 minutes, do not open the oven back up
  15. Take the cake out of the oven once you can pull a toothpick out cleanly
  16. Leave to cool for a few minutes, and then take out of the pan and cool on a rack
  17. Serve warm
  18. Cultural history:

    Pandan (Pansanus amaryllifolious) is a South East Asian plant with leaves that are used in sweet and savory dishes. If you don’t happen to have a pandan plant growing in your backyard, most Asian supermarkets carry pandan extract in their baking aisle. Be wary though, the extract is very green and will ruin any clothing it gets spilled on.

    The pandan-coconut combination gives the cake an incredibly light flowery flavor. Married with its dense gummy texture and the sheer novelty of a green cake, Banh Bo Nuong is a great cake to share with adventurous friends and family. But with greatness comes great risk. Sometimes it just won’t rise, or it will act like a soufflé and deflate after it comes out of the oven. So it’s very important to follow the recipe and actually strain the ingredients in the cake.

    Additionally, tapioca starch is a gluten free food, so this cake is gluten and dairy free.

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