Kuih Bakar Pandan: A Traditional Malay Pandan Cake in Malaysia
Kuih Bakar Pandan is a traditional Malay cake well-loved by Malaysians. It is sometimes called Kuih Kemboja, Bingka Bakar or just plainly Kuih Bakar. Kuih Bakar Pandan is basically a pandan(screwpine leaves)-flavoured cake which has a custard-like texture that is encrusted in a signature golden brown crust. On top of the cake is a layer of sesame seeds.
Kuih Bakar Pandan literally means ‘burnt pandan cake’ in Bahasa Malaysia, which is describing the traditional way of baking the cake using burnt coconut husks. Nowadays, the cake is usually baked in oven instead. The kuih is typically baked in a cast-iron mould that resembles a frangipani flower (known as Bunga Kemboja in Malaysia). Apart from looking pretty, the flower-shaped mould actually gives the cake more surface area to form crusty edges when baked.
To make Kuih Bakar Pandan, a mixture of pandan leaf juice, eggs, flour, coconut milk, butter (or margarine/ghee) and sugar are mixed together until a runny batter forms. Green food colouring is sometimes used to give the batter a more vibrant green colour. The batter is then poured into the mould, which is preheated and greased beforehand. After the mould is filled with the batter, sesame seeds are sprinkled on top before getting baked in the oven. The cake will expand and rise like a soufflé in the oven and deflate upon cooling.
Kuih Bakar Pandan has a rich, soft and eggy texture, somewhat like a cross between a pudding and a cake. The crust is slightly crispy from the caramelisation and the sesame seeds. Lastly, the cake will fill your room with wonderful pandan and nutty sesame seeds aroma.
Kuih Bakar Pandan is normally found in Malay homes and Malay shops/stalls, especially during festive seasons like Hari Raya throughout Malaysia. There are still some shops that bake the cake traditionally using burnt coconut husks.