Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh & Deep Fried Sweet Potato Balls with Taro Paste

The once every 3-month Girls Cooked Off is coming up again, with the core ingredient being the humble sweet potato. Half of the group are making savoury and I belong to the group making a sweet/dessert.

After unfruitful search on internet, I decided to try making something from Malaysia again. I guess that's because food from my hometown always reminds me of my childhood and my family. There are at least 3 desserts from Malaysia that I really like:

1. Bubur Cha Cha - a popular Nyonya dessert of sweet potato, yam, black-eyed beans, tapioca jelly and sago pearls in thick coconut milk. There are slight variations depending of which part of Malaysia you try this dessert, some even have slice bananas in it.

2. Sweet potato On deh Ondeh - a Nyonya dessert fills with melted gula melaka(palm sugar), and then sprinkle with grated coconut that is seasoned with fine salt.

3. Deep fried sweet potatao ball with taro paste - this is a dessert my grandmother used to make every chinese new year. I have never seen it in a restaurant but I believe it is a teochew snack. If eaten straight after deep frying, the skin is crispy on the outside and chewy inside bcause of the glutinous rice flour.
I ended up making the deep fried potato balls a week before the cook-off and also making ondeh ondeh for the actual cook-off.

Deep Fried Sweet Potato Balls with Taro Paste

Sweet Potato Ondeh Ondeh

If it wasn't for the girls cook-off, I would have been too lazy to make these delicious childhood yummies, especially for the deep fried potato balls which is like an lost art in my home eversince grandma became physically unfit and stopped cooking. My version of the sweet potato ball is far from those made by my grandma but making this snack reminds me so much about her and her kind and childlike smile.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Pandan Chiffon Cake

When I think of Malaysian food so many hawker food come to mind such as Penang Hokkien Mee, Char Koay Teow, Penang Laksa ... the list is very long and they come up in my mind in different order depending on what I crave for at that particular time. But when I think of cakes from Malaysia, the first on the list seems to always be Pandan Chiffon Cake. In fact I grew up thinking chiffon cake originated from Malaysia given its popularity in my hometown Penang. So this is a cake that is not only light and tasty, it brings back a lot of memories.

As chiffon cake requires a tube pan for baking, I have not been able to try baking it till last year when I finally invested in a 25cm chiffon cake tin. Ever since I have made a few different flavours including orange chiffon, strawberry chiffon, chocolate chiffon but the best is still Pandan I must say. And family and friends usually vote for Pandan too. Pandan cake is not very popular in Australia (yet!) and its green colour sometimes bring some funny expressions to my colleagues faces, it has been nicknamed "the green cake", until I have time to explain the green colour comes from the Pandan (screw pine) leaves, and that it is in some way similar to how vanilla extract in used in baking.

This is an adapted version of a recipe from a friend, it uses self raising flour but I generally prefer to use cake flour and add baking powder if I happen to have cake flour handy. I feel cake flour gives the cake a lighter texture.

Pandan Chiffon Cake

Egg yolk mixture
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup of castor sugar
1 cup of coconut milk
1/3 cup of vegetable oils
Pandan paste (about 1/2 teaspoon, I usually just add to get to the level of green I like, just add a bit at a time to be safe the first time you make this)
1 cup of Self Raising flour (if using cake flour, add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder)
pinch of salt

Egg Meringue mixture
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup castor sugar

25cm chiffon cake tube pan


1. Preheat oven to 350 F (176 C). Place the wire rack on the middle in the oven.
2. In a clean, oil-free bowl, whisk the egg whites till foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until big egg bubbles become small bubbles then add 1/2 cup caster sugar gradually and continue to beat till you get stiff peaks. You will know it is ready when the egg white mixture does not fall when you turn the bowl upside down. Set this aside.
3. In another bowl, cream egg yolks and sugar till the mixture looks pale. Add the oil, coconut milk, Pandan paste, whisk till combined. Add in sifted flour (with baking powder if using cake flour) and pinch of salt, whisk till combined.
4. Fold 1/3 portion of the egg meringue (from step 2) into the egg yolk mixture (from step 3). Do this very gently using a whisk. Then fold in the rest of the meringue, again very gently fold until well-incorporated.
5. Pour the batter slowly into the chiffon cake tube pan, use a chopstick (or skewer) to go round the tin a few times to release any bubbles. Bake at 350 F (176 degrees Celsius) for about 20 minutes. At this point, the cake would have risen. Lower the temperature to 320 F (160 degrees Celsius) and bake for another 30 to 40 min depending on your oven. To test if the cake is cooked, insert with a skewer, if it comes out clean, it is cooked.
6. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert the pan and leave the cake to cool in the pan. This will prevent the cake from collapsing.
7. When the cake is cooled (at least one hour), unmould the cake by running a knife or skewer round the edges of the cake (at the sides and in the centre where the ‘tube’ is). Serve the cake and enjoy :)

BTW this is the pandan paste I use which can be found in most chinese grocery store in Melbourne:

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Combining my two favouite food into one - Chocolates and Chiffon cake.