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Chinese White Honeycomb Cake / Bak Tong Gou- version 1 白糖糕

Monday, April 12, 2010


Ohhh... I've seen so many people making this. I want to try it myself too.

Actually, I never liked this bak tong gou because it tasted sour, but the honeycomby texture is nice to chew on. My friend Leighanne, loved this cake. And she always like to buy this from a kuih maker that lived 400m away from my house in Kampar. His version looked like this.  But then, I think he didn't use the express method to make. His is the days and days of fermentation method, cos the texture indeed is different.

There are many many versions on the internet, and I googled using Chinese (I've got limited Chinese knowledge) to find more versions of it. And I found this, a version using wheat starch. All the english blogs that I came across with all the googling with any romanization of the cantonese name (Pak Thong Koh, Pak Tong Go, Bak Thong Koh, or whatever) never made this cake using this recipe. So, let me try this.

The result, not sour at all. It has a very nice sweet yeasty smell. When the cake has cooled, I overturned it to cut. I saw the revealed backside of the cake to be like in the pic on your right. Wow, honeycomb :) But when I cut through the cake, no, not honeycomb like,  it's like a  termite mound's interior. Not my fault, the site that I got this from also looked like this. Plus other Chinese sites that made using this recipe also looked like this and this. I thought it's due to them not stirring the final transfer of batter to steam tray that caused the termite mound effect. But no..the recipe really yields results like this even when I stirred it when I transfered the batter. But no matter how it looked, the texture is nice to eat. Soft and not hard, even after many hours after being steamed. And the amount of sugar used is very little, it's sweet enough not to be bland.

I halved the original recipe since it was an experiment. I was scared that I won't like to eat it, so dared not do a bigger portion. Experiments need to be eaten too, unless it's really awful or uncooked. But I regretted, I could finish up the whole thing myself.  The amount below is what I did, and it gave me a 7 inch diameter, 1.5cm tall square cake. Feel free to do the full amount.

50gm sugar
200ml water
25gm wheat starch
75gm rice flour
1/2 tsp yeast mix with 1 tsp water

1. Combine everything except yeast mixture.
2. Cook over low heat until mixture thickens, stirring all the time. (*note below)
3. Remove from heat and sieve mixture into a bowl that is 3 times bigger than the amount of batter. (pls refer below for intructions to achieve a nice honeycomb look. New instructions for Step 1-3)
4. Let it cool down until warm to the touch, means u can put your hand under the bowl for a long long time feeling just warm, not hot.
5. Mix in yeast mixture and let it sit and proof for one and a half hours. (I like to proof my stuff either in a covered pot or a closed oven)
6. Stir batter and pour into an oiled 7inch square pan.
7. Steam on high heat for 20 mins (25 if full amount)
8. Let cake cool down completely before cutting, if not the surface will be sticky.


*Well, I'm rather impatient. I do medium heat for 20 seconds (if full batch I'd go 30 sec) to heat it up, turn to low for 20 seconds, back to medium for another 3, then back to low for 20 and medium 3 up until u can feel the base start to thicken. Then I went low all the way until I could feel about half of it is thickened. Then I removed it from the heat and continued to stir, and let it continue to thicken with the residual heat)



I'm going to do 3 more versions...1 is another express version, the other 2 will be long winded versions. Just for comparison. I'm curious, very curious. How can I get the ultimate honeycomb structure like the hawker near my house in Kampar???? Or should I just climb and peek into his kitchen???

Update 29/4/10: I've found the solution for the termite's mound look. Don't cook the flour mixture.
Here is my revised Step 1, 2 and 3.

1. Boil 120ml water with sugar. Mix 80ml water with both flours and mix well.
2.When sugar syrup has boiled, pour into flour mixture and stir well.
3. Sieve batter and leave it to cool.
Continue with step 4 above.

39 lovely notes:

My Little Space April 12, 2010 at 3:00 PM  

Wendy, you're so funny! hehe... The Kampar version you mentioned about is using the traditional method, which take at least 3 days to complete the cake. I done it before but never did any photo shoot on it. The texture is more compact compare to the instant one. And the surface wasn't sticky at all. Your version also very nice. I might give it a try later on. Thanks for sharing.
Regards, Kristy

Elin April 12, 2010 at 3:05 PM  

Hi Wendy...that is already a nice looking pak thong koh ! I have never tried this out but I think I need to try it out. Thanks for sharing your experience and the recipe :))

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 12, 2010 at 3:22 PM  

Kristy,
Yeah, I know that bak tong goh nea rmy house should be the long winded way,and yes, indeed it is firm and bouncy, and I heard that he uses toddy to make his. I saw Aunty Yochana's version and she said that that was the best that she has ever made, so I might try that, but sigh... I need to find a day when I'm going back to Kampar (then only I make it), so that I can give and give away. I can't eat all the bak tong goh I make.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 12, 2010 at 4:58 PM  

Elin,
This actually tasted rather good. I like it.
I've got few more versions coming up. Another one coming up in a few weeks, after the queue to post have much thinned down, and 2 more in a few months time :)

MaryMoh April 12, 2010 at 7:55 PM  

Love this. I remember eating a lot of this when I was back home. I think I have to make it soon. Thanks for sharing.

Angie's Recipes April 12, 2010 at 8:48 PM  

I like white sugar cake too. Yours looks just perfect!

tracieMoo April 12, 2010 at 10:47 PM  

I never thought there were so many ways of making pak tong koh. I'm looking forward to see your comparisons.
Never thought of making them, but after I've seen you doing it I feel tempted to do so :)

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 12, 2010 at 11:27 PM  

MaryMoh,
Quick then, so that I can see your version.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 12, 2010 at 11:28 PM  

Angie,
I once saw this on your site too:)
It was pretty.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 12, 2010 at 11:29 PM  

Tracie,
Yeah, u'd be surprised at all the versions.
So far, I've done 2, both express versions.
The 2nd one will be posted later.

CH Voon April 13, 2010 at 12:26 AM  

this nice... i like eat but very sweet!

delia,  April 13, 2010 at 8:16 AM  

Hi wendy,
came across your blog some time ago. a very nice blog you've. keep up the good work. your version of pak tong koh is very nice. i've one one using florence's recipe titled white sugar sponge, express one also. maybe you can try her version, too. her website is www.wlteef.blogspot.com

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 13, 2010 at 11:23 AM  

Voon,
I know some people make this to be very sweet.
Don't worry, this one is not sweet at all.
Just enough sweetness for it not to be bland.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 13, 2010 at 11:27 AM  

Delia,
Thanks for the recomendation.
I've actually tried another express version, similiar to Florence, using all rice flour.
I'll post that one later.

Shirley @ Kokken69 April 13, 2010 at 1:00 PM  

I haven't had this in years. Indeed, the honey comb-like structure is very pretty - reminds me of another Indonesian cake with similar honeycomb like structure - some Ambon or something.

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 13, 2010 at 5:28 PM  

Shirley,
Haha, this one looked like termite's mound interior more than a bee hive's interior.

Yup, Bingka Ambon.

HomeKreation April 13, 2010 at 10:20 PM  

Hi Wendy, it looks pretty to me although the holes are not like the typical honey comb. I like this kuih which version not too sweet. I might try this recipe one day.

Foong Mun April 14, 2010 at 12:53 AM  

Oh.....Fantastic !!!
You just posted my favourite kuih.
I always looking for it everywhere in Pasar Malam when I was in KL.
Not all Chinese bakery stall here has good taste of 白糖糕 like the one I used to eat.
Great...really have to find some free time and try to make it myself.
OK....looking forward to hear from you soon about the other 3 more versions. :)

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 14, 2010 at 1:55 AM  

Home Kreation,
Do try this, really not very sweet.

Foong Mun,
Now I can see this is the favourite kuih of so many people,except me :)
If u want the type you used to eat, then you have to wait for version 3 or 4. The ones that Kampar kuih hawkers sell are the long winded versions that needs days to make.

Blessed Homemaker April 14, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

I've not made this for a long time! I saw Kitchen Snippets version and wanted to make it for my dad again but was so busy with my eldest's ballet exam (just round the corner). My recipe came from a forum, no cooking of mixture, just mix everything, leave to proof for 8 hours (originally 2 hours) and steam. Texture wise is good enough for me as I'm not a fussy eater :P

Waiting patiently for your experimental results.

CH Voon April 14, 2010 at 6:06 PM  

not sweet then good hehehe

save some sugar as well!

Cheryl April 16, 2010 at 8:49 PM  

I do like this cake/kuih a lot! The texture is wonderful to munch on. Thanks for sharing your recipe, I really must try this one day. But I'm not sure if I can find wheat starch where I live...

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 16, 2010 at 9:23 PM  

Cheryl,
Errmmm... this is not the hawker style, very bouncy bouncy type.

If you can't get wheat starch, try tapioca/cassava starch. Some recipes I see use that. If you still can't get that, cornstarch then.

oilai April 23, 2010 at 11:57 PM  

i would like to bake bak tong gou.if i buy this 7 inch square pan,can use it to bake swiss roll and butter cake,is it suitable?

wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... April 24, 2010 at 3:12 PM  

OiLai,
You can use the 7 inch pan for butter cake but not for swiss roll.

adrienne July 31, 2012 at 8:05 AM  

i made this yesterday using your no cook version and got double combs!!! =)

i had some starter left from the honolulu newspaper version (which was a disaster), so used 1/4 c of that plus 1/4 tsp of instant yeast.

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 31, 2012 at 11:13 AM  

adrienne,
Thanks for the feedback, so then I think the main reason for double honeycombs is due to the wheat starch :)

adrienne July 31, 2012 at 9:39 PM  

i like my bok tong goh chewier and tangier so tried it again yesterday without the wheat starch (used extra rice flour in place of the starch. i also let the batter ferment for 6 hours. i still got the double combs, just not as high. the goh was more to my liking. i am going to try one more variation with a little less wheat starch. i am wondering if it's the starter that is helping?

Anonymous,  January 7, 2013 at 11:49 AM  

I have 2 questions : wheat starch = bread flour? and may i use active dry yeast? Thank you

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more January 8, 2013 at 9:41 AM  

Anonymous (Pls leave a name),
No, wheat starch is not bread flour. It's the starch of the wheat.
Yeah, you may use active dry yeast.

Petitelien,  January 11, 2013 at 7:53 AM  

Call me Petitelien, please. Thanks for your answer.

rita chua May 21, 2013 at 10:37 PM  

@Wendy, Thanks for sharing your recipe. It is really my dream to learn making Pak Thong Koh the right way since 30 years ago. I tried this version using dry active yeast instead of Chinese wine yeast and it gave me a double layer honeycomb cake like the one in version 3. I also tried to proof it for 2 hours, thou it gave me the same look but I do not like the taste, maybe because of over-proofing. I will try the next 4 versions in the weeks to come.

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more May 23, 2013 at 12:26 AM  

rita chua,
Wow, all 4 versions, I hope you have enough mouths to help eat, heheheeh.

Six Bittersweets February 13, 2014 at 3:46 PM  

Hi Wendy! I love the longest version of this cake that you've posted starting with the rice, but I want to try a quicker version. This looks like a great place to start especially since I trust your judgment when it comes to this cake. Can I use the Chinese wine yeast for this? If so, how much should I use and how long should I let it ferment for? Thanks!

WendyinKK February 13, 2014 at 5:07 PM  

Xiaolu,
If you want to try a quicker version with chinese wine yeast, try version 4.
Wine yeast doesn't work as quick as instant yeast

Six Bittersweets February 13, 2014 at 5:20 PM  

Thanks! I'll just use instant yeast since I only have 1 day to make this. In terms of flavor/texture, how would you rate this compared to version 3? If version 3 is a 10, what ranking would this be?

WendyinKK February 16, 2014 at 12:15 PM  

Xiaolu,
You will need to jack up the recipe as this makes a very small portion, enough for 1 person :)
This is probably a 8, not as fragrant, softer than version3, but generally good. Maybe just don't cook the flour like what I did here, if not you won't get upright combs

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