Give me cake or give me death cookies.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Sandakan Cow Pat Tarts/UFO Tarts Take 2- Recipe

I'm back from Malaysia! And having tried cow pat tarts for real, I knew that they were the first thing I'd have to make when I got back.

You may remember that I've attempted to make these custard-filled cakes before, having heard about them from my mum but not previously tried them. They were good, but the cake base was too thick and dense, and I didn't make enough custard. This time, I made a light and airy 'fatless sponge' instead of a butter sponge, and dropped the batter straight onto a lined baking sheet to make flatter 'sponge drops'. I also only blasted the meringued tops for a few moments under the grill rather than double-baking it. The results: a light, airy bite with a marshmallowy topping and a creamy custard centre. This time, I just stuck to the 'cow dung pile' style of shape (last time I made cow dung piles and UFOs).

I made one tiny mistake- although it turned out to be an awesome one. I forgot that fatless sponge batter inflates and expands when baked, resulting in giant cow pat tarts. Like I said, a mistake, but an awesome mistake.

Ingredients for Base:

-3 eggs, separated
-3oz caster sugar
-1.5oz plain flour
-Pinch of salt

Ingredients for Custard:

-3 egg yolks
-4tsp custard powder
-4tsp sugar
-10tbsp milk
-5tbsp condensed milk
-1tsp vanilla

Ingredients for Meringue:

-3 egg whites
-6tbsp caster sugar
-1tsp cornflour


1) Make the sponge drops first. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line and grease a couple of baking sheets (you may need to make in batches- I made ten giant ones, but intended to make twelve).

2) Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff white peaks, and set side, In another bowl, whip up the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold the flour and salt into the yolks, then carefully fold the egg whites in to make a thick, fluffy cake batter.

3) Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto your baking sheets, smoothing them out a tiny  bit into circles (but not flattening them as they spread out themselves in the oven). Make sure you leave a couple of inches between them to expand.

4) Bake in the oven for about ten minutes or until golden brown- they won't need much time because of their size- and leave to cool completely.

5) Next, make the custard. Lightly whisk the egg yolks, custard powder, vanilla and milks in a microwavable bowl, and microwave in short 20-30 seconds bursts until the custard is very thick, but not thick enough to be piped (it'll thicken up to a scoopable consistency as it cools). Place some clingfilm on the surface of the custard to stop a skin from forming, and leave to cool.

6) Now, make the meringue topping. Whip up the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, add in the cornflour and whisk in the sugar until glossy. Done!

7) Finally, assemble and brown your cow pat tarts. Preheat your grill to a medium to hot heat (about 180 degrees C).

8) Evenly distribute the custard between the bases, spooning a generous dollop into the centre of each. Now pipe the meringue in cute little poo shapes (never thought I'd ever type a sentence like that) onto the tarts, completely covering the custard.

9) Place under the grill for a few minutes and WATCH LIKE A HAWK or your tarts will burn. Take your cow dung piles out when they're nice and caramelised.

10) Cool, because cooked sugar is all burny and stuff, and enjoy!

~~~ Afterthoughts ~~~

As you can see, I was a little amused at how large the sponge bases became when I fished them out of the oven.

This is how big they're meant to be:

See what I mean? Still, I can't complain: more cake is never a bad thing, and it made them the perfect size for dessert!

These are even better than my previous recipe, though I did miss the butter in the sponge- and the authentic ones I ate in Sabah did taste buttery. The third time I try making these, they'll be perfect.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Kuih Bakar Pandan- Recipe

Going to Malaysia, brb.

Next week, I'm flying to Kota Kinabalu for a mini Chinese family reunion. There's one set of family (including myself, of course) coming from Britain, a set of family coming from Australia and a set coming from Texas. Understandably, since we're all so scattered, it's a big deal when so many of us wind up in the same place together.

Other than the prospect of seeing a bunch of awesome people I only get to see every few years, I also get to go to a part of the world in which the greatest percentage of my favourite foods comes from. Char kway teow noodles, pisang goreng (banana fritters, but not as the West knows them), eis kacang, cendol, rendang and nyonya curry... and kuih.

I covered a lot of these during the Australiafiles on my other blog, but not kuih. Kuih (or kueh) means 'cake', and is mainly found in Malaysia, Singapore, South China and Indonesia. They come in an array of colours and forms. Most usually, they're soft and chewy or custard-like, and are often made with rice flour- either glutinous or plain.

I've used pandan extract so many times in this blog, but I'll remind you guys: pandan is also known as the screw pine, and it's leaves are widely used to flavour things in South East Asia like vanilla is used in the West. To sum up, 'kuih bakar pandan' is literally just Malay for 'baked pandan cake'- nothing fancy.

Unlike a sponge cake, this kuih is a lot like its South East Asian brethren: dense, soft, a little chewy and not too sweet. However, unlike its kuih relatives, this one isn't complicated to make as it doesn't involve steaming any layers (check out my recipe for kueh lapis and see what I mean...) You just mix it up, whack it in the oven and bake it.

Traditionally, this recipe is baked in a flower-shaped pan and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I had neither on hand this evening, but I did have this:

Sesame snaps! You can get these at any supermarket, I just happened to have a packet from my last trip to the Chinese supermarket. All I had to do was grind a couple of sticks up in my teeny tiny pestle and mortar and I was ready to go. I think it worked really well: it sort of created a caramelised brûlée effect on top.


-100g plain flour
-50g glutinous rice flour (you can also use regular rice flour in this recipe)
-100g caster sugar
-Pinch of salt
-4 eggs
-400ml coconut milk (one tin)
-1tsp pandan paste/extract (or vanilla, if you can't find it)
-2tbsp butter
-2tbsp crushed sesame snaps


1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line an 8 x 12" pan with foil. Plonk the butter in the pan, but DO NOT put it in yet (or you risk burning the butter).

2) Place the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl, make a well in the centre and start whisking the eggs in, adding the coconut milk bit by bit to avoid lumps.

3) Once everything is well combined, add the pandan paste and stir thoroughly.

4) Now the mixture is ready, place the pan with the butter into the oven, and take it out when the butter is melted and bubbling (keep a close eye on it, it'll only take a minute or two). Using a pastry brush, quickly spread the melted butter up the sides of the pan, then pour in your kuih batter and place in the oven.

5) After about 10 minutes when the top is set, sprinkle over your crushed sesame brittle, and return to the oven to bake for a further half hour, or until the kuih doesn't jiggle in the pan and the top is golden brown (it'll puff up quite a bit but will sink back down once it cools).

6) Let it cool completely before slicing it into the shape of your choice

7) Serve and enjoy!

That's it recipe-wise from me, for a couple of weeks! I'll be on the other side of the world, eating myself into a noodle and kuih-induced stupor. However I will be updating with snapshots of my culinary conquests, as well as writing up a 'Malaysiafiles' series on Where I Like to Eat. Until then... happy baking!