CCC – Cheesy Cassava Cake–A Modified Version of The Traditional Nonya Kuih Bengka Ubi

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INTRODUCTION

Tapioca or cassava is a staple root widely consumed in regions like Africa, Asia, Oceania and etc. It is easily propagated and commonly found in South East Asian countries. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are the top three exporter of tapioca in the world.

Tapioca or cassava cake is a very common household cake of any races (be in Chinese, Malay, Indian or other races) in Singapore and Malaysia. However, in the Peranakan cooking, Kueh Bengka Ubi is one the most famous items in its cuisines.

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There are generally two methods of making cassava cake, by steaming or baking. Chinese preferred to have its cassava cake steamed, as soft as possible and served with shredded coconut (at times this is needed as the cake are so soft and smooth that it is shapeless). On the other hand, the Nonya preferred to bake the cake using charcoal stoves or ovens. Usually, the baked cassava cake have a slightly burnt crusty top and the body is yellowish in colour and texture is rather “elastic”. It is very aromatic with a mixture of fragrances from pandanus leaves, coconut milks and eggs.

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CHEESEY CASSAVA CAKE

This recipe is my own without making reference to any recipes in the internet. As usual, I have prepared based on what I think is workable, memories on the cake that I have tasted before and one or two attempts a few months back.

This cake is different in its texture and its taste. Besides the normal fragrance of the traditional cassava cake, the  cake have a rich and cheesy fragrance. In addition, as you can infer from the pictures above, the texture is moist but not soggy or sticky. In fact, you can cut it into any shape that you want.

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The incorporation of cream cheese had made the cassava cake smoother and creamier. It helps to heighten the flavour of the eggs, coconut milk, butter and the cassava original flavour.

I have used small sago balls to enhance the texture. Grated cassava, under high heat can turn very sticky and subsequently become very chewy. The additions of sago balls somehow will help to sooth the texture making it even smoother.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 100 g of sago balls – soaked in water (Volume of water should be about 2 times of the sago ball and note that the balls will expand)
  • 150 g of butter
  • 200 g of cream cheese
  • 250 g of granulated sugar

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  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml of thick coconut milks
  • 1 kg of finely grated tapioca or cassava. You can buy in the market and grate it yourself. If you want to grate it yourself, you will have to use the food processor to chop it as finely as possible, and then you can proceed to use  a blender (instead of an cake mixer) to perform the following steps. You will need to put in your chopped cassavas, eggs, coconut milks and blend it to as smooth as possible).
  • Red and green (pandanus) colouring (optional) – I have resorted to the use of red and green colouring this illustration as I find that the traditional cake are rather dull in colour and I want my cake to look more colourful and appetizing.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  • Get ready a 8 inch x 8 inch baking tin. Slightly grease the tin with either butter or cooking oil. Dust some wheat flour if necessary.
  • In the mixing bowl, beat your butter, cream cheese and sugar using medium speed until evenly mixed. Note that the purpose of this step is not to let you have a fluffy cake like other cake recipes. The beating here is mainly a mixing step, a step to ensure that the butter and cream cheese are evenly mixed.

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  • Once well mixed, add in your eggs one at a time and followed by the coconut milk. You should only use low speed for this simple mixing purpose. Scrap out the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to ensure that there are not cheeses sticking to the bowl.
  • At this stage, you will notice that the mixture become more and more watery which is normal and hence SPEED SHOULD BE LOW as long as mixing can be performed.

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  • Add in the grated cassava and soaked sago balls. “Beat” at the lowest speed possible. You will see that after 1-2 minutes of slow mixing, the liquid start to disappear as it was further absorbed by the sago balls.
  • Separate into approximately 4 equal portions. One portion with red colouring, one portion with green colouring and the other two portions maintain the original colour.

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  • Pour the uncoloured portion of the batter to the tin, followed by green and red portion. It is entirely up to readers as to what design you want your cake to cook like. For me , I have opted to have some simple big stripes design. As the batter is not very watery, it is rather easy for you to design your pattern.
  • Baked using 190 degree Celsius for about 30-45 minutes or until set. Until set means when you push the baking tin, the centre of the cake does not “vibrate”. Another test is that you insert a skewer in the centre of the cake, the skewer come out clean. However, as this is a cassava cake, cassava when hot can be slightly slimy and as long as you taste it is not raw, the cake is consider as cooked.
  • Leave the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cutting of cake is  best done 3-4 hours after baking to ensure that centre of the cake is completely cool. As long as when you cut the cake, there are some cake stick to the knife, your cake is considered as not cool completely.

  • Serving suggestions – you can serve with shredded coconut with white sugar and hot tea or coffee.
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CONCLUSIONS

  • This is a modified recipe by incorporating cream cheese and sago balls to the traditional cassava cake. The main aim is to smoothen the cake texture and make the cake creamier along with the fragrance of eggs, coconut milk and cassava.
  • Resulting from the modification, this will be totally different from the traditional cassava cake that you may have tried. It is soft, slightly springy and with cheesy coconut fragrance.  The shredded sugar coconut with heighten the palate and reach another higher dimensions.
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  • It is easy to cut into your desired sizes and looks presentable in tea party as a snack items.
  • If you think that you are a professional Nonya cake baker, you should try and tell me what is your opinion. If you are new to pastry making, this is one item that will not ruin your confidence.

Hope you LIKE it and have a nice day. Cheers

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Let’s See How An Asian Make The Tomato Pasta Sauce From Scratch ….

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INTRODUCTION

This is the homemade pasta sauce from scratch. I learned this many years ago from one of my French friends staying in Paris, France. When I visited her, she is preparing the pasta sauce and I can vividly remember certain steps in the preparation but sad to say, I can’t really recall the happy time we had during the dinner.

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This post will consist of two parts:

Part 1  –  the making of homemade pasta sauce and

Part 2 – the making of baked pasta with pineapple

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PART I – MAKING OF HOMEMADE PASTA SAUCE


WHAT IS NEEDED

This recipe is adequate to make tomato pasta sauce for at least 6 persons and have about 600 grams left for baked pasta.

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  • 1 kg of tomatoes 
  • 2 big size capsicums (preferably red in colour but green colour is acceptable) – optional 
  • 3 big stalks of celery – optional and in this illustration, I did not include this 
  • 3 large onions 
  • 6 chicken franks – optional
  • 500 g of fresh button mushroom (can be substituted with canned mushrooms) – optional 
  • 500 g of minced meat (beef or chicken or pork). In this illustration, pork was used.

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  • 20 cloves of garlic 
  • 30 grams of butter (can be substituted with olive oils)
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian dried herbs 
  • 100 grams of mozzarella cheese 
  • 10 tablespoons of tomato ketchups (optional, for “colouring” purposes) 
  • 1 pack (about 300g) of pasta of your choice. 
  • Seasoning (Salt, black pepper, sugar)

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PREPARING THE RAW INGREDIENTS……..

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  • Clean the tomato and all other raw ingredients.
  • In a big pot, bring some water to boil. Place the tomato into the hot water and let it boil for a few minutes or until the skin slightly peeled it off. Note that as long as the skin start to break, you can transfer to the cold water as mentioned below.
  • Get ready a pot of icy cold water. Place the tomato in the icy cold water.
  • Peel off the skin by hand which is rather easy.

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  • Cut opened the de-skinned tomato. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
  • Use your hand to squeeze off the seeds and/or juices into a clean container.
  • You can either throw away these juices or keep it as tomato juices. It is okay to drink the seeds as it is very fine and slippery.
  • Set aside the tomato flesh for future uses.

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  • Traditional way of making pasta sauces do not really utilize food processors. However, I have opted to use food processors to cut short the braising time.Traditionally, all items were julienned or cut into small chunks for the cooking.
  • Use the food processors to cut the garlic and onion in small chunks (need not to be overly fine since you are going to braise them), set aside.
  • Use the same blender to blend the red and green capsicum or celery (if any). For celery, you will need to de-skin the celery first before you put into the blender. The red and green capsicum and celery will help to add volumes and flavour to your pasta sauce. If only tomato is used, it may be too sour.

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  • Cut the chicken franks into small chunks. This is optional and rather “Asian” taste. I have put this because my kids love to eat chicken franks.
  • Cut your button mushrooms into thin slices. Canned mushrooms works equally well.
  • Minced meat of your choice. Traditionally, beefs were used. As I do not eat beef, I have substituted with minced pork or at times minced chicken. I have bought the ready made minced meat from the supermarket.
  • Grated mozzarella cheese. I have opted to buy the grated mozzarella cheese but it is not necessary at all. If you have un-grated cheese, you can just cut a slice (without grating) and put it in the sauce later. It will melt subsequently.

THE COOKING BEGINS…..

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  • In a big pot, put the butter and let it melt.
  • Add in the chopped garlics, stir fried until it turns slightly brown or the aroma start to emit.
  • Add in the chopped onion and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  • Add in the chopped green and red capsicums and stir fry for another 2 minutes.

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  • Add in the chopped tomato and bring them to boil under high heat.
  • Once boiled, turn to medium heat and let the mixture simmer for at least half an hour.
  • Add in seasoning and herbs and let them boil for another 5 minutes. Seasonings can include pinches of sugar, black pepper and salt. As for the Italian herbs, I have bought the over-the-counter dried herbs which consist of basil, oregano, garlic, thyme, red bell peppers and parsley.
  • If you just want pure pasta sauce without any meat. You can stop here and you can keep it in sterilized containers and keep for at least a month in the fridge. The steps that follows are meat sauces for the spaghettis or other pastas.

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  • Add in your minced meat and cooked for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add sliced mushrooms and chicken franks.
  • As this is home made pasta sauce, the colour will very much depends on the types of tomato that you bought. In Singapore and Malaysia, it is rather hard for you to find Roman tomato, we can just use whatever tomatoes we have. However, the colour may not be that appealing, you can add in bottled tomato sauce to make the colour darker. In addition, it will help to enhance the flavour of the pasta sauce.

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  • Continue to boil for at least 10 minutes, add mozzarella cheese and once boiled, off the heat and your home made pasta sauce is ready.

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COOKING THE PASTA…..

This is rather standard and you should read the instructions of the packaging for the pasta that comes with it.

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  • In a pot with about 2 litres of water, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (olive oil) and pinches of salt. Bring to boil under high heat.
  • Add the pasta and continue to boil for 8-10 minutes or till desired texture.
  • Drain away hot water and pour some cold water on top of the pasta for one minute.
  • Drain, add in pasta sauce and garnished with parsley or any other desired herbs  and it is ready to serve.

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CONCLUSION

  • Home made pasta give you the a full flexibility of adapting the ingredients and herbs to your family taste buds and health objectives. Most ingredients are substitutable and trial and error or mix and match appeared to be the best approach to design your own favourite pasta sauce. I have also opted to use food processor in the preparation process and that have cut short the preparation tremendously.
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For my readers from Western countries, since baked pasta and pasta sauce are more popular in your countries, tell me if you think the pasta is yummy and if the baked pasta will suit your taste buds.

Hope you LIKE the post and have a nice day. Cheers.

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