The fasting month of Ramadhan has started and it’s making me miss Malaysia even more, so I decided to make another type of kuih! For the uninitiated, ‘kuih’ is a type of snack that is commonly eaten for breakfast or tea, and it is more often sweet than savoury. There are so many different types of kuih that I’m pretty sure I haven’t even eaten them all. The last time I bought snacks for afternoon tea from a roadside stall in Malaysia, I selected so many for myself and a friend’s family that he looked at me with such an amused expression. Considering we were about to prepare a BBQ feast, my purchases were fairly questionable; but in my defence, I was going back to Australia the next day. As that thought washed over me, I picked up the tongs and added more kuih to those flimsy plastic bags without second thoughts.
Let it be known that I am one for living (well, eating) in the moment.
My previous attempt at kuih was ondeh-ondeh, and for my next foray, I selected kuih bakar, otherwise known as kuih Kemboja. Kuih bakar, which directly translates to ‘burnt kuih’ is not actually burnt as such. Rather, it has a brown crust that is coated with sesame seeds on top, which hides a soft, slightly chewy green interior. What else? Fragrant from the addition of screwpine leaves, a not too sweet flavour that comes from the coconut cream, and wonderful when served with sweet milky tea. This kuih should be really brown all over, and it will rise dramatically when baking – don’t worry, it will flatten out upon removal from the oven. Best eaten when completely cool as its texture will improve, so put down that fork! I have a pre-conceived notion that kuihs are difficult to make, but I’ve since tossed that idea in the trash, all thanks to kuih bakar which is a one-bowl mix.
Betty Crocker, I’m coming for you!
Kuih Bakar/Kuih Kemboja
Adapted and translated from Joayee’s recipe
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of pandan/screwpine juice (add 6 blended pandan leaves to 1 cup of water and extract the juice, or add 1 tsp of pandan essence to 1 cup of water)
2 cups of plain flour
450 ml or 2 1/4 cups of coconut cream *
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
2 drops of green food colouring
3 tbsp of sesame seeds
* it’s best to use those that are sold in cardboard cartons, but you can also use canned coconut cream
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt.
Whisk in the pandan juice, coconut cream, eggs and food colouring one by one until the mixture is uniform.
In a 23 cm stainless steel pan (or cake tin), add in the 2 tbsp of butter and place it in the oven.
Once the butter is melted and hot, remove the dish and swirl it about to coat with the butter. Add in the kuih mixture, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until brown.
Remove from oven and let cool completely. Yes, COMPLETELY!
Slice and serve.