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Layered Kaya Steamed Cake - Filled Baos # 1

Monday, July 16, 2012

First of all... I would like to tell you the name is misleading.
It's not a cake, but more of a steamed bread, a huge "pau" that is eaten sliced. If you're used to german yeasted cakes, then yeah, this is a cake. Bread or cake, I surrender.
The Chinese name is 千层糕, which translates to thousand layer cake. I only have 10 layers.

I was in the state of  'ding dong ding dong' when it came to naming this post.. hence the title and the word in my picture is different.

Actually I first saw such a cake on Zurin's blog. It was filled with coconut. Then I saw another recipe in an old cook book written by Pei-Mei, also with coconut. I sort of forgotten about it, until I saw this recipe, of which is made with pumpkin.

I tried to make this with a "simply concocted" overnight sponge dough, hoping the final product will remain soft for a longer time.
It takes many hours to get this done, so you can use any recipe you like to achieve this look and ignore this recipe that I'll be sharing with you. But because my dough is a slow riser, I can slowly roll out each piece of dough and stack, rather than to race against time. The dough also has good resistance to rolling out thin, but then again, it's a slow riser. 

Layered Kaya Steamed Cake
Recipe source: WendyinKK

Sponge dough
250gm pau flour
200gm water
1gm (1/4 tsp) instant yeast
Mix and leave to proof for at least 8 hours at room temperature (28-30C), overnight will be fine (max 12 hours)

Main dough
150gm pau flour
50gm sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Small pinch of salt
40gm shortening

9 Tbsp kaya (coconut egg jam)

1. Knead everything (sponge dough +main dough) together (except kaya) until a smooth dough forms. (I manually kneaded, takes a while only, 5-10 minutes)
2. Divide dough into 10 balls (about 63-67gm each), cover and let it proof for 1 hour. It will be puffy, but not double, maybe 30% bigger.
3. Roll out dough into thick circles. Let the circles rest for 10 minutes.
4. Line a steaming tray with non stick baking paper, prepare 9 inch cake ring, lightly oiled.
5. Roll out the rested circles into large thin circles that is 1 inch smaller than the ring on both sides. Place this onto the steaming tray.
6. Spread 1 Tbsp of kaya onto the rolled out dough.
7. Roll out other pieces of dough into similiar sizes, and stack them up with kaya in between. Place ring around the stacked layers.
8. Cover the stacked doughs and let it proof until double. It will take about 2 hours.
9. Steam on high heat for 30 minutes or until you can smell the aroma of the kaya.
10. Let the 'cake' cool down and slice it to your preference. Don't be saddened if the center seems sunken (when we lift the dough off after rolling, the center will be pulled thinner and sides thicker, which is why it might happen).

I made this last week again with traditional kaya, that is brown. The layers are more prominent. I used 2 different jars of kaya, hence 2 shades of brown.

43 lovely notes:

Hody Loh July 16, 2012 at 11:22 AM  

it pau but look like cake.....it look so soft...

Mel July 16, 2012 at 11:23 AM  

This is must be delicious snack! I never made this before and yes going to bookmark this. I came across in one of the cookbook that they use salted egg yolks in the fillings.

Ellena | Cuisine Paradise July 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM  

Gosh! This is lovely! although with the hardwork on the steps I am sure it is worth trying :)

AmySammy,  July 16, 2012 at 1:01 PM  

Have eaten these at restaurants, loved it but think they used salted egg instead of kaya... Always wondered how it's done :-) thanks! You're really inspiring! Now just gotta move myself into doing it!!! Thanks again!

Phong Hong July 16, 2012 at 1:16 PM  

Looks yummy and soft. I'll KIV this recipe for the Hari Raya holidays.

Honey Bee Sweets July 16, 2012 at 1:37 PM  

It's pau in a whole new level, haha. Indeed the name a little misleading at first., thought its another lapis cake.....until I read on, haha!

Too Mai Lin,  July 16, 2012 at 2:24 PM  

Wow, impressive. Going to bookmark this.Wish I had more days to try your recipes.

Jes's Deli Corner July 16, 2012 at 3:04 PM  

So soft. I had bookmarked this type of cake from other blog, havent try it yet. U mixed the ingredients together for both dough?

Jes's Deli Corner July 16, 2012 at 3:07 PM  

Oh sorry, I got it. The sponge dough need to be mixed overnight..going to try it out..Thanks for sharing

Jeannie Tay July 16, 2012 at 3:41 PM  

Very impressive cake pau layers, must make this when free:D

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover July 16, 2012 at 3:45 PM  

The other day, my blogger friend Yan also forwarded a similar recipe and asked me to try..already put in the waiting list, but need to wait for really free time to make this!

kym July 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM  

wow... very interesting...

nice... steal u menu back home lioa ya.. hehe

thks for sharing hmmm

reanaclaire July 16, 2012 at 9:07 PM  

Hey Wendy.. do you know.. when it comes to visiting food blogs, readers must be "armed" to avoid being "tortured." We must come with a full stomach! These layer pau pau looks so refined!

lena July 16, 2012 at 9:40 PM  

pau lapis!! how creative! a kid eating this may find it interesting to peel the layers by layers to eat them!

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 16, 2012 at 11:42 PM  

very confusing hoh

Salted Egg yolks sound nice too

Not too hard actually.. just time consuming


There are few methods to do it, actually

Phong Hong,
ur kids are so lucky!

Many many levels, LOL!

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 16, 2012 at 11:45 PM  

Too Mai lin,
I wished one day has 30 hours :)

U can use any recipe u like for the same effect

when u're very free

U can geh

take take, no shy shy

Haha, too full stomach can vomit too....

I know u're big kid.
I'm not creative la, I just ciplak from others.

Cheah July 17, 2012 at 12:01 AM  

Your layered steam pau looks yummy! Heard of it but never tasted it before.

ICook4Fun July 17, 2012 at 6:14 AM  

This is such an interesting looking steamed cake. I remember having this at the dim sum place here but their filling was orange in color. I think it has eggyolk in it.

Anonymous,  July 17, 2012 at 6:17 AM  

Dear Wendy

I do not have a cake ring, can 8" cake pan do?

Priscilla Poh

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 17, 2012 at 10:42 AM  

Ipoh ada ka?

I think so, some of the comments above did mention salted egg yolks

you can skip the ring totally, I just wanted the 'cake' to remain round. It doesn't really matter if you're going to slice it later.

YC,  July 17, 2012 at 12:18 PM  

This is lovely. Gonna try it. TQ.

vin July 17, 2012 at 12:41 PM  

Hi! i came across your blog searching for layer cake recipes and saw this pau one ! sounds interesting i'll try it soon and will let you know how it goes :)

Yan July 17, 2012 at 3:44 PM  

Love this layered kaya bread a lot. This is another great recipe, Wendy.

Small Kucing July 17, 2012 at 8:48 PM  

a lot of work wor. Looked like crepe :p\

dont think i will try it as i sure to mess it up

Honey boy July 17, 2012 at 9:01 PM  

Wow, this is so good looking. I am sure it's sooo yummy too! You are very good Wendy! 佩服!

Kak Nita July 17, 2012 at 9:44 PM  

Hi Wendy...
Looks nice & sweet.

Zoe July 18, 2012 at 8:41 AM  

This layered kaya steamed cake looks very fluffy and yummy! They look like white fluffy towels all staking up for teeth to sink in and I'm craving for such a nice gastronomic feeling :D

Bookmarked this recipe!

choi yen July 18, 2012 at 3:49 PM  

the process very similar with making mille crepe huh..?

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 18, 2012 at 9:04 PM  

the only similiar part is stacking and spreading with filling.
other than that, nope :)

Blessed Homemaker July 19, 2012 at 4:43 PM  

Looks good but so time consuming! Don't think I'll ever this but just drool over your pics.

Anonymous,  July 20, 2012 at 9:37 PM  

Dear Wendy

I tried this recipe out today but flogged. The dough was rather sticky and extremely soft even while trying to hold a lump and weigh it to 67 gm, it was difficult without dusting my hands with lots of flour. Dusted also lots of flour in order to roll each dough circular. In the end instead of following the method, I shaped dough into individual paus and filled them with red bean paste.

Just steamed the paus. Will eat paus tomorrow and let you know.

I suspect failure of the dough most likely was attributed to the 40 gms shortening. Maybe the shortening should be less.

Priscilla Poh

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM  

Too much fat in a dough will not cause it to be sticky. It will only cause it to be oily. Is your dough oily? If it's not, it's not about the shortening.

If you underkneaded the dough, it will be sticky. Any dough needs to be kneaded until it's smooth. The dough starts off in a sticky state.As you knead it will no longer be sticky.

I have made this twice, there's nothing wrong with the recipe.

Anonymous,  July 21, 2012 at 6:03 AM  

Dear Wendy

The dough was not oily. I believed I have kneaded quite long with my Kenwood Chef mixer. Or could the sticky dough caused by the overnight fermented dough? Just could not figure out.

May be I should recipe try again. Anyway, thanks for your recipe.

As for my failed layered steam kaya cake turned paus, pau skin looked like your layered cake but paus were sunken. Paus stayed soft even next day.

Priscilla Poh

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 21, 2012 at 10:56 AM  

I think I know what went wrong since u said you kneaded it long.
Ur dough is overkneaded, gluten strands all broken.
The second time I made this, I did the 2nd kneading my hand, and usually manually takes a much longer time than machine. I only did it in less than 10 minutes and the dough is smooth.
It is the overnight fermentation that helps the bun stay soft for long. Half the dough's gluten is already well formed during the overnight fermentation.

Anonymous,  July 21, 2012 at 7:48 PM  

Dear Wendy

Ya, ya, u said it correctly, seemed to develop lot and lot of gluten strands. Even when I tried holding up a lump of dough from the mixing bowl for weighing 67 gm, lump pulled like strands. Ya, your analysis is very accurate.

OK, if that is the case, do u think the next time I try recipe again, should I knead using the Kenwood Chef mixer but shorten the time or better to use hand kneading?

Thank you for figuring out the the problem. Really "Peh Fu" my "Shifu". Not only all ur recipes very detail and illustrative but you also help novice like me in problem shooting.

Priscilla Poh

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 21, 2012 at 8:58 PM  

For me, If i'm using my KA to knead this, I might be doing it on Speed 2/10 and in less than 10 minutes, stop when the dough looks smooth. Don't go any further. When working with pau flour or all purpose flour, stop kneading when it's smooth. But with bread flour, stop when you reach membrane stage

Anonymous,  July 22, 2012 at 5:19 AM  

Good Day Wendy

Thank you again for imparting the valuable knowledge on kneading of different flours to me. I've learnt so much from you.

Could you kindly also enlighten me on whether is Top flour same as Cake flour?

Priscilla Poh

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 22, 2012 at 11:00 AM  

Those 2 can be used interchangably, but I'm not sure if there is any specific difference in granular size or gluten level. I even use high ratio flour whenever these 2 are being called. Even superfine.

Justin Pinkney July 25, 2012 at 5:20 AM  

Kind of like a Mille-feuille with bread? Or a crepe gateau with bread? Either way looks good!

Mae Cheah January 14, 2015 at 9:31 PM  

Good! Finally a Pau recipe I agree! Thank you:) I used all purpose flour and knead by hand half the recipe and made 6 layers only.
I've tried many Pau recipes BUT no success all unlike the pic they post! Wendy I can tell your pic are your true own result. Thank you:) at least I see similarity in some pic with my end results.. More reality in it..

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