Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake – Banh Bo Nuong
Vietnamese cuisine is incredibly diverse and complex, in both its flavors and textures. Among its many delights, one particularly unique dish stands out: The Honeycomb Cake – Banh Bo Nuong. This delightfully sweet treat has been a beloved delicacy of the Vietnamese people for many generations and has recently gained widespread recognition across the globe.
About Banh Bo Nuong
Banh Bo Nuong is a traditional Vietnamese cake composed of a honeycomb-like structure that is made from soft and fluffy rice flour. The cake is typically flavored with toasted sesame, and sometimes pandan leaves. It is usually served with a coconut paste or even ice cream for added sweetness.
Aside from its distinctive flavor, the texture of this honeycomb-like treat is what makes it so special. Its soft and fluffy consistency makes it both delightful to eat and pleasing to look at. This cake is definitely a must-try for anyone looking to experience the wonderful taste of Vietnamese cuisine!
However, creating Banh Bo Nuong is not overly complex, yet not everyone succeeds at their first attempt. This is largely due to the fact that most recipes require a significant amount of time – some require a swift 24 hours, while others necessitate a patient wait of up to 72 hours. This time-consuming process contributes to the exquisite texture and flavor of this traditional Vietnamese cake.
But fortunately, I’m going to share with you an ultra-speedy recipe using baking powder that only takes about 15 minutes. This method will save you time without compromising the distinctive taste and texture of Banh Bo Nuong. Stay tuned for this time-saving technique, perfect for those who want to experience the delight of Vietnamese cuisine without the long wait.
Necessary Components for Your Quick Honeycomb Cake
- 165 ml of coconut milk + ¼ cup of water (60 ml) (If you prefer a stronger coconut flavor, you can replace the water with coconut milk altogether)
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 160 gm tapioca starch
- 10 gm rice flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g granulated sugar (or less)
- A pinch of salt
- 1 pouch of Alsa
- ½ teaspoon of pandan extract (or alternatively, you can use a handful of fresh pandan leaves, grind them, and extract the juice yourself).
Before you begin, it’s crucial to prepare all the ingredients in advance. Having everything ready at your disposal not only makes the process easier but also ensures that you can work through the steps swiftly and efficiently.
While you can take your time assembling the ingredients, once you’ve added in the baking powder, you’ll need to act quickly. It’s crucial to get the batter into the oven as soon as possible to maximize the leavening effect of the baking powder. If the batter sits too long, the baking powder may lose its effectiveness, which could affect the texture and rise of the cake. So, make sure everything is ready and the oven is heated before you add the baking powder.
- To begin, add the coconut milk, sugar, and if you’re using the pandan paste, then include it in the ¼ cup of water (If you’re using fresh pandan leaves, reserve the quarter cup of water to blend with the leaves in the next step). Heat this mixture over medium-high heat and stir continuously until all the sugar is dissolved and you have a slightly opaque mixture. Once done, turn off the heat and let it cool.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (about 163 degrees C). Place the baking pan in the oven to pre-warm it as well. It’s essential to preheat the baking pan along with the oven as it facilitates even heat distribution when you pour in the batter, contributing to the beautiful honeycomb texture.
- If you’re using pandan paste, you can skip this step. I didn’t have it, so I ground fresh pandan leaves with the reserved ¼ cup of water, then used a cheesecloth to extract the juice. If you’re using fresh pandan leaves, the color might not be as vibrant as when using pandan paste, as it does not contain food coloring. Then, pour the freshly extracted pandan juice directly into the pot with the coconut milk mixture you have just heated. Mix these ingredients well to ensure a smooth and even flavor throughout the cake.
- In a separate mixing bowl, lightly whisk the five eggs. For this step, you’ll just need a whisk or a fork. Gently stir in one direction to ensure the eggs blend smoothly together. It’s important to remember not to whisk the eggs too vigorously. Over-whisking can introduce too many air bubbles into the mixture, which could affect the final texture of your cake.
- Next, add in the vegetable oil, vanilla extract, or vanilla sugar, if you’re using it, and continue to stir. Remember to mix gently to avoid creating too many air bubbles.
- Now, pour the previously prepared coconut milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir until well combined. It’s important to ensure that the coconut milk mixture has cooled before blending it with the eggs to prevent the eggs from cooking prematurely.
- Finally, combine the dry ingredients which include the tapioca starch, baking powder, salt and rice flour. Mix them well and sift them into the wet mixture you’ve already prepared. This step ensures the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, preventing any clumps and contributing to the smooth texture of the cake. Quickly mix the combined ingredients, yet be careful not to stir too strongly. Aiming for a smooth and even blend without air bubbles is the key here.
- Pour the batter into the pre-heated baking pan. It is important to strain the mixture one more time as you pour it into the mold to ensure a smooth texture. This way, you’re eliminating any remaining lumps or air bubbles that might have formed during mixing. Now, your batter is ready for baking. Follow the baking instructions carefully to achieve the perfect honeycomb texture of your Banh Bo Nuong.
- Bake the cake for about 40 minutes or until the surface is slightly golden and a toothpick or bamboo skewer comes out clean when inserted, indicating that the cake is fully cooked. Allow the cake to cool before removing it from the pan. It’s important to let the cake cool completely to prevent it from breaking apart when removed.
The sign of a successful Banh Bo Nuong lies in its distinct texture and appearance. When you cut into the cake, you should see an intricate pattern resembling a honeycomb, hence the name ‘Honeycomb Cake’. This texture is the hallmark of this Vietnamese dessert and captures the essence of its unique appeal. The cake should also have a slightly chewy texture, a golden brown top, and a delightful aroma of coconut and pandan. If all these characteristics are present, you can confidently say you’ve mastered the art of making Banh Bo Nuong.
Tips for Success
- When purchasing pandan extract, it’s important to be discerning about the quality. Different brands and varieties can vary significantly in their concentration and overall quality. Opt for pandan extract that has a rich, deep green color and a thick consistency, as this indicates a higher quality product. Avoid pandan extracts that appear light green and thin, as they may be overly diluted and lacking in flavor potency.
- Maintaining a slow and steady pace is crucial when stirring the mixture, with the whisk making consistent contact with the bottom of the mixing bowl.
- Immediately after baking, it’s vital to remove the cake from the pan to prevent it from collapsing. The residual heat from the pan could cause the cake to continue cooking and potentially shrink within the pan, altering its distinct texture. Therefore, as soon as the cake is done baking and has slightly cooled, ensure to take it out of the pan for further cooling.
- Bear in mind that oven settings can vary greatly. At any stage during the baking process, it appears that the cake might scorch on top, adjusting the temperature to around 170 C / 338 F or even lower if required.
- If you don’t have a bundt pan on hand, a large loaf tin could serve as an alternative. However, it’s important to note that using a different type of pan could necessitate some adjustments in the baking time. Additionally, be aware that there may be a risk of the desert deflating once cooked if a loaf tin is used. Using a bundt pan remains the most reliable option for achieving the best results.
Storing your Banh Bo Nuong
Preserving the freshness and quality of your Banh Bo Nuong is crucial to enjoying this delightful dessert to its fullest. To store the cake, first ensure it has completely cooled to room temperature. Using an airtight container is key, as it prevents the cake from drying out and keeps it moist. Place the cake gently into the container and secure the lid tightly. Stored at room temperature, your Banh Bo Nuong should remain fresh for up to two days.
If you wish to keep the cake for a longer period, consider refrigeration. Again, use an airtight container to protect the cake from absorbing other flavors in the fridge, and to maintain its moisture. When refrigerated, the cake can last up to 4-5 days. To serve, you might prefer to bring it back to room temperature or warm it slightly for that just-baked taste and texture.
It’s essential to note that freezing is not a suitable storage method for this pandan delight, as the thawing process can significantly alter and degrade its unique texture.
While the traditional Banh Bo Nuong is renowned for its signature pandan flavor, the cake is quite versatile and can be combined with a variety of other flavors to create unique variations.
For instance, sesame could be an interesting addition providing a nutty note that complements the sweetness of the cake. Similarly, incorporating coffee can introduce a robust and bitter element, creating a delightful contrast and depth of flavor.
Thus, feel free to experiment and create your own delicious versions of this Vietnamese dessert.
Making Banh Bo Nuong is a rewarding and unique experience. The intricacies of the recipe require patience, precision and care. However, despite its complexity, the outcome will certainly be worth it! With these tips in mind, you’re now all set to embark on your own journey to perfecting this traditional Vietnamese delicacy. Bon Appetit!
I’m Godfrey Jensen, CEO and head chef at Lapps Meats. We’re a top-quality butcher with over 70 years of experience. Our goal is to provide our customers with the best, freshest products possible. We take our food seriously, and we love serving the community by providing them with quality meat products.