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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Baking Adventure: Bánh Bò Nướng (Vietnamese Pandan Tapioca Honeycomb Cake)

Ahoy, Adventurers! Here's something a little different that I baked for a class potluck. This super fragrant, green-tinted, chewy cake is called "Bánh Bò Nướng" in Vietnamese and is one of my favorite Vietnamese treats. It's a popular dessert flavored with pandan extract and coconut milk. The English name might be a little misleading because the "honeycomb" does not refer to any honey used in the recipe but rather the unique bubbled honeycomb shape of the finished product.
Bánh Bò Nướng - Vietnamese Pandan Tapioca Honeycomb Cake
Bánh Bò Nướng is notorious for being really fickle. There are many tips and tricks suggested by various bloggers, but often in the comment sections, you'll read about the multiple failures others experienced - mainly getting a dense brick cake with no bubbles. After successfully making this cake twice (just to rule out beginner's luck with my first attempt), I am pretty confident that my method works.

Before we jump into the recipe, I wanted to include a section for tips and tricks I've gathered that appear to increase your chances of having a successful Bánh Bò Nướng. I'm not entirely sure if all the tips are crucial but I incorporated them into how I make Bánh Bò Nướng just in case. Honestly, I suspect only the final tip is SUPER important but I'd rather be enjoying cake than sorry I wasted my ingredients. If I ever find the time and money, I'll test out all the tricks to see if they're all necessary, but for now here's what I've gathered:

Tips and Tricks
  • You have to use single-acting baking powder. Double-acting baking power supposedly won't give you the proper honeycomb shape, but Andrea Nguyen from Viet World Kitchen found that you will still get bubbles just maybe not the ideal honeycomb formation.
  • Preheat your baking pan so that your batter sizzles when it hits the pan. (I don't think this tip is necessary because my batter didn't sizzle but the final product still came out okay.)
  • Do not incorporate any air into the eggs or else you will get a flat cake. (This is one of the tips I'm not entirely sure about but I followed anyway.)
  • Do not overmix your eggs or else you will get a flat cake.
  • When measuring out the coconut milk, do not shake the can or carton. Instead, open the container as is and measure out the cream part floating on the top. (I think this is more for flavor.)
  • Let the cake rest in the hot oven before removing it.
  • Add your single-acting baking powder to you mixture as your LAST INGREDIENT (after you've mixed and strained your other ingredients). (Now this tip, I think is really important. Single-acting baking powder starts reacting and making bubbles once it hits liquid. If you added the single-acting baking powder at the beginning and took too long to mix your ingredients, all the baking powder would have reacted and you would not get any bubble formation when you're baking in the cake the oven, which would result in a dense cake. Therefore, I think this step is crucial!)
Now, onto the recipe...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Breaking Bad - Blue Sky "Meth" Rock Candy

My friends are HUGE fans of Breaking Bad. Although the show ended not too long ago, I wanted to cook  a special treat for my friends for Christmas - Blue Sky! No, not that Blue Sky! The rock candy version of Walter White's ultra pure meth!
Breaking Bad - Blue Sky Meth

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Baking Adventure: Portal Cake (and Happy Birthday to My Little Bro)

Hey, Adventurers! Happy 2014!

Apologies for the extended hiatus! It was much longer than I had originally anticipated, but I hope you all had a fun, safe, warm holiday season. My holidays were busy with family and friends, but I've also been making things that I'll blog about later. :) Be sure to stick around in the upcoming weeks!

You see, the end of November and early December always correspond with end-of-the-quarter craziness - finals, papers, projects, presentations, and all that fun stuff. In addition, there's Thanksgiving and... my brother's birthday!
Portal Cake
My brother's a big fan of Portal so this year, I made him a Portal Cake. That's right, the cake is NOT a lie!
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