How About A Passion Fruit/Peach Flavoured Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake or Kueh Neng Ko

IMG_11512
 
INTRODUCTION
 
This is my third post of Kueh Neng Ko or Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake. Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake and Sarawak Laksa had always been my two top posts since I set up this blog. In fact, since I last posted my gassy steamed sponge cake on August 13, 2013, there were daily visits to the post until today. In fact some readers have tried the recipe many times and communicated with me about better ways to prepare a non surprise Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake. Essentially, this means that a sponge cake that will “smile” and not “bold headed”. There are a lot of readers who are passionate about the preparation of this traditional steamed sponge cake.
 
Asking most elderly bakers, they will tell you that this is a delicate cake and the outcome can be rather unpredictable as it depends on too many factors such as steamed temperature, how long the eggs have been beaten, type of steaming utensils and etc. .. In another words, elders has always regarded the cake as cakes that have lots of taboo/prohibitions during the preparation process. Therefore, preparing a smiling Kueh Neng Ko is my mission today and as a test to my earlier recipe.
 
IMG_1157
The steamed sponge cake cake in my second post
 
If you are interested, you can read the two posts here:
IMG_1221
 
2 days ago when I went shopping in a baking supply store, I was surprised to find the type of bamboo baskets that I have been looking for a while. This is the type of bamboo baskets that my mum used to steam Huat Kueh (another type of steamed rice cake) years ago. In fact, I did not place any hope to find this in Singapore as I may have wrongly perceived that it is rather untrendy to use this type of traditional bamboo baskets nowadays. Immediately when I saw the baskets, I bought a few and eager to try preparing Kueh Neng Ko again.  
 
IMG_12081
 
The mould wouldn’t disappoint me, it give a wide smiling Kueh Neng Ko using exactly the same old recipe. However, because I do not have 7-up or Sprite, I have used passion fruit/peach flavoured sparkling water and therefore, the Kueh Neng Ko became passion fruit/peach flavoured. By the same logic, readers will be able to prepare Kueh Neng Ko of your preferred flavour..from orange to cola to… anything that you like.
 
IMG_12181

 
WHAT IS REQUIRED:
 
IMG_1135
 
  • 2 large eggs (preferably at room temperature) (鸡蛋)
  • 300 grams of self raising flours – sifted (自发面粉)
  • 150 grams of fine sugar (细砂糖)
  • Any gassy drinks of about 200 ml (Seven up, Sprite or sparkling water of your preferred flavour)
  • 2 tablespoons of condensed milk (炼奶)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda (optional)
  • One 6“ bamboo basket (竹篮)
  • Cellophane plastic sheet (玻璃纸)

For this illustration, I have used passion fruit/peach flavour sparkling water instead of the traditional 7 up or sprite.

IMG_12101


STEPS OF PREPARATION

Pre-preparation

  • Get ready a 6 inches diameter bamboo basket/rattan casing and lined it with lined with cellophane plastic sheet (竹篮玻璃纸). 
  • Get ready a big pot or wok for steaming and make sure that the cover is tall enough for your cake rise.  Boiled the water under high heat and put the empty bamboo basket in the steamer to warm the bamboo basket. (important to heat the bamboo basket)

 IMG_1141

  • Crack two eggs in a big mixing bowl. Add the sugar and 2 tablespoons of condensed milks, beat at high speed until the eggs turns light and fluffy. (Note that as a result of adding condensed milks, you may not be able to obtain the soft peak form from egg beating). Fold in the sifted flour as quickly as possible. Add in the gassy drinks and, stir lightly and quickly until well mixed.

IMG_1146

  • Transfer the batter quickly to the heated bamboo basket. Put some some sugar on top of the batter in a cross shape (this is an important step to make it crack). 在鸡蛋面糊上面上,跟着十字的形状,撒下2条直线的白糖。

IMG_1219
 
  • Steamed under high heat for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in and comes out clean. Put in additional hot water if the water dries up. Do not open the steamer cover for the first 15 minutes. Once your remove the cake from the steamer, immediately remove it from the bamboo basket. Place in a wire rack and let it cool completely. 

IMG_12061


CONCLUSION
 
I am extremely happy this steamed sponge cake give me a big smiling face again. Since there are many type of gassy drinks or sparkling water available in the market, therefore you can easily adjust the traditional steamed sponge cake to the flavour that you like. This is the sparkling water of passion fruit/peach flavour, therefore, my resultant steamed sponge cake also become passion fruit/peach flavoured. Is it not good to have some changes? But the colour of the steamed sponge cake will depend on the colour of your sparkling water used.
 
Hope you like the post today and happy trying. Have a nice day.
 
IMG_11511
 


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .
 

group-board-picture7222222222[2]

If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 250 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD

Four-Seasons-JPG29622223222232223[2]

For Four Seasons Blog Hop #25 (Nov 6) where I am the Co-host, please join us for the party where you can get a lot of the family related posts. Please click the above logo to enter your post.

IMG_12041

IMG_12121

The Plights of Kuey Neng Ko…The Traditional Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake…

IMG_3949 Chicken + egg + cake = Steamed Sponge Cake

Scenario 1

“Mimi, let’s have some “kuey neng ko” (“jidangao ( in Mandarin) or “Chicken egg cake” literally translated into English”) for breakfast! Yesterday is Chin Ming, your grandmother prepared a lot and gave one to us.”

Mimi replied, “Yuk! mum, you know that is not my cup of tea, don’t “hassle” me anymore! By the way, I am not hungry now and if I am hungry, I can buy some Swiss roll in Polar Cake Shop  or Ma La Gao in Tau Kee Pao Shop near my office!”

Scenario 2

In the office, “Mimi, I have bought some nice  mini cupcakes from a Japanese bakery shop in Vivo City. You want to try?’. “Of course. Um, it is nice, do you have another piece to spare me?”

Scenario 3

In a posh French Restaurant in Ann Siang Road, Mimi’s boyfriend Kaka asked, “Mimi, today is Christmas day, shall we have a slice of Bûche de Noël as dessert?’” Mimi nodded her head shyly and that was her nicest dessert she have ever had in years.


IMG_3956

INTRODUCTION

Kueh Neng Ko or “Jidangao (鸡蛋糕)” are traditional cakes prepared by the Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese for prayers usually to the ancestors or gods. In my childhood years, before any big festivals where offering to the ancestors or deities were required, my aunt would make this kuey neng ko, ang ku kueh and my mum will make another type of steamed rice cake called “huat kueh”. They will share with each other for the prayer sessions.

IMG_3969

The picture shows the traditional egg beater, an old woman preparing the traditional cake; the traditional kuey non ko.

(Courtesy of : http://zuzu88.blog.sohu.com, http://frognme.blogspot.com, www.cookingvoyeur.com)

Mimi’s adverse reaction to Kuey Neng Ko is typical of many Malaysian teenagers where such traditional cakes were ignored and belittled. What Mimi did not know is that the famous Ma La Gao (commonly sold in Hong Kong Dim Sum restaurant) or Swiss Roll or Japanese cupcakes and the French Buche de Noel essentially have the same ingredients except slight differences in the ratios between the ingredients and its method of preparation.

IMG_3961       IMG_3966Cousins” of kuey non ko belonging to his uncle “Oven”

Swiss rolls, Buche de Noel and Japanese Cupcakes utilize the baking method, whereas kuey neng ko uses steamed method. Though both Ma La Gao and Kuey Neng Ko used the steamed method but Ma La Gao recipes uses fats (vegetable shortening, oils or butter) in the preparation but Kuey Neng Go have none.

Theoretically, Kuey Neng Ko should be a healthier choice than Ma La Gao and Swiss Roll but why is it outdated and failed to win the heart of youngsters nowadays?


WHAT IS KUEY NENG KO?

Kuey neng ko is synonymous to “Sponge cake” in bakery terms and the best equivalent will “Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake”. Eggs  is omitted in the name because it is implicit in the word sponge cake. In Western Countries, steamed method of cooking are mostly limited to vegetables (of course there are some steamed cakes like steamed fruit cakes and puddings) but the Chinese have used this versatile method in preparation of its cuisines ranging from steamed meats (fish), dumplings, rice and the famous dim sum.

IS KUEY NENG KO A SPONGE CAKE?

According to Wikipedia, sponge cake is defined as follows;

“Sponge cake is a cake based on flour (usually wheat flour), sugar, and eggs, sometimes leavened with baking powder which has a firm, yet well aerated structure, similar to a sea sponge.  …….

Making of a sponge cake. Using the weight of 3 eggs, weigh the fat, sugar and flour. A typical sponge cake is made by beating the eggs with sugar until they are light and creamy, then carefully sieving and folding in the flour (depending on the recipe, the flour may be mixed with a small amount of baking powder, though some recipes use only the air incorporated into the egg mixture, relying on the denaturing of the egg proteins and the thermal expansion of the air to provide leavening). Sometimes, the yolks are beaten with the sugar first while the whites are beaten separately to a meringue-like foam, to be gently folded in later.The mixture is then poured into the chosen cake tin and baked. Both methods take great care to incorporate air in the beating, whisking and sieving stages. This makes a very light product, but it is easy to lose the air by removing the cake before it has finished in the oven.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sponge_cake

Based on the above definition and descriptions, Kuey Neng Ko clearly is  a sponge cake. It has eggs, sugar and flour. It is firm and a rather well aerated structure.  In fact, the recipes stated in the above quotes are the same as what I have used to make the cakes.  I will not dwell into the details of the above definition until I finish sharing with you how to make the Chinese steamed sponge cakes below. Thereafter, we will go into detail analysis of the failure of our traditional cakes.


WHAT YOU NEED?

IMG_3919

The ingredients are minimal as stated below:

  1. Eggs (1 cup – about 3 whole eggs);
  2. Self raising flour or just plain flour (1 cup);
  3. Granulated sugar (1 cup).
  4. Some coloring or flavoring- You can select strawberry essence for red color and the pandan paste or essence for green color. Of course, color is optional but in order to make the cake have a new look, I have decided to play with the colors of the cake.

Note that the ratio of eggs to flour to sugar is 1:1:1. It will speed up your preparation as you can use the same container to do all the measurements.

IMG_3924

This picture shows certain cooking equipment that you have to get ready but all are substitutable.

  1. Some small cupcake cups;
  2. 3 glasses with a plastic bag each – If you do not want to color your cupcakes, you can omit this.
  3. A steamer – An electric steamer is not a must but the advantage of using it is you can ensure that your heat are consistent throughout the steaming process, just use the traditional bamboo steaming method.
  4. Some form of sieves to sieve the flour.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

BEATING THE EGGS……

IMG_3925

  • Crack 3 eggs into the mixing bowl (here 3 eggs is equivalent to one cup).
  • Pour in I cup of sugar and beat the eggs using high speed until the mixture is light, creamy and glossy. As this recipe did not call for separate beating of egg whites and egg yolks, the beaten mixture will be slightly yellowish and not as light as you beat the egg white alone. During the process, you will start to notice the volume will start to increase resulting from the air introduced to the eggs mixture during the process of beating. Use a spatula to slightly scrap some beaten eggs and see if it fall down. If it fall down, it means that you need further beating. If it just stick at the spatula, it means it is ready and you can stop the machine. On high speed, it take me only 5-10 minutes of beating to get such form. Alternative is to use the hand beaters and traditional they are using a coil to beat the eggs. (look at the 3rd picture)

FOLDING THE FLOURS…

IMG_3928

  • Sieve the flour lightly into the beaten eggs and fold it gently using a spoon or a spatula. For me I have used the mixer of the mixing machine.
  • This process have to be done gently. You want your steam sponge cake to be soft that means that you are saying you want as many air as possible in your steamed sponge cake. Folding gently will ensure the air will continue be trapped in the beaten eggs until it was steamed. Too rough handling will push all the air out and your end products will be something like a pan cake.

GETTING READY TO PUMP THE BATTERS…

IMG_3927

  • Separate the batter into 3 equal portions. I have put the batter into a cup with a plastic bag on it. This is because I need  to pump it into the small cups without the bags, it is rather difficult unless you are very meticulous and or other type of pumps.

  • Coloring is optional. If you are not keen to put in the coloring or flavoring, you can go directly to the next step.
  • I have used the red/strawberry flavor for one portion and the other portion, I have use the pandan paste. Use a spoon to mix it gently until the color is even. I have decided to use coloring because I want these delicacies to look different from its traditional looks.

PUMPING THE BATTERS…

IMG_3929

  • In the steaming tray, line up all the cups nicely.
  • Take one portion and cut a small hole at one of the corners.
  • Pump in the cup at the design you desired.

In this illustration, I have used the smallest cupcake cups. When the batter is pumped into the cup, it will push it towards the side and that simply means that your batter is very soft and will lots of air and expect the final product to be slightly fluffy.

STEAMING THE MINI SPONGE CAKES

IMG_3930

Steamed for about 10 minutes and your steam sponge cakes will be ready. Note as this is a very small cup cakes, therefore, it is rather fast to cook.


ANALYSIS OF THE CUP CAKES

I have intentionally choose this size for the cupcakes as they are one bite size with attractive colors. As you can see, the small cutie is full of holes meaning it is very spongy. Of course this can be further modified by adding little bit of fats (like butter, vegetable oil), using flours with high gluten such as bread flours and shorten the beating process such that less air is incorporated. It is rather addictive and within about 2 hours of steaming it, we have eaten half of the cakes.

In another attempt to make sponge cakes, I have use 2 cups of flour, I cup of egg, 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of tonic water and the result are like this.

IMG_3227

Therefore, The shapes looks much nicer but the texture is less spongy and compared to the 1st one. In a muffin size tin, the output resembles a muffin but is a healthier choice as it contains no fats.


THE FAILURE OF TRADITIONAL KUEY NENG KO TO BECOME POPULAR…

In my humble opinion, the traditional Kuey Neng Ko is not attractive to a foodie because of the following reasons;

  • The quantity of flour in the batter. The Chinese believed that in order to pray to the God, the cake must “smile ‘meaning with some cracks in the shape of one cross shape. Only with this shape, the God will be happy and bring good luck to the prayers. However, in order to achieve this shape, the flour volume will accordingly be  bigger in order to support the structure. This in turns means that less air will be trapped in the cake making the cake denser.
  • No fats in the cake. As there are no fats in the cake, eaters will feel that the cake is rather dry and something will choke them if without a cup of drinks. Unlike Ma La Go, eaters feel the smoother feelings when they eat it. For Swiss roll, the combination of cream and various toppings have help to moisten the cake.
  • As the traditional Kuey Neng Ko have only eggs as the main ingredients, its fragrance is very monotonous. For other sponge cakes, the incorporation of fats such as butter will give the cake some buttery aroma whereas the usage of cream and other flavor enhancers such as vanilla will cover most of the eggy flavor.

CONCLUSIONS

  • Kuey Neng Ko is definitely a much healthier snacks as compared to all other cakes that I have mentioned here as it is non fat and utilizing the steam method of preparation.
  • In order to make this cake more acceptable to the taste of present society, one can consider to make the cake smaller and decorate it until it looks more appetizing.
  • Lowering the volume of the flour used and incorporation of fats will greatly enhance the texture of the cakes.

Lastly, it is hoped that readers will try to prepare this cake as it is relatively easy to prepare, healthier, tastier and more nutritional. The benefits of this recipe are:

  • The ratio of eggs:flour:sugar is 1:1:1 which make it easier to remember and assembling the ingredients;
  • Eggs:flour ratio of 1:1 will mean that the texture of steamed sponge cake will be softer than the traditional kuey neng ko;
  • No additional ingredients were required which saves you time and money;
  • Use of whole eggs instead of beating egg yolks and egg whites separately will shorten the preparation time;
  • Use of mini cup will shorten the steaming time;
  • Use of alternative colorings and flavors will make the cake more appetizing when compared to the traditional steamed sponge cake.

Let me know of what you think about our traditional cakes. Happy reading

Upadate on 15 August 2013

I have posted another steamed sponge cake recipe in  https://kwgls.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/my-steamed-sponge-cake-kuey-neng-ko-is-full-of-gas-%E6%B1%BD%E6%B0%B4%E9%B8%A1%E8%9B%8B%E7%B3%95%EF%BC%89/. You can follow the link to understand another way of making this steamed sponge cake.

IMG_3094.jpg