Kuih Bakar Pandan: A Traditional Malay Pandan Cake in Malaysia
Kuih Bakar Pandan, also known as Kuih Kemboja, Bingka Bakar, or simply Kuih Bakar, is a beloved traditional Malay cake that holds a special place in the hearts of Malaysians. This delectable treat features a pandan (screwpine leaves) flavour and boasts a custard-like texture encased in a signature golden brown crust, topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
The name “Kuih Bakar Pandan” literally translates to “burnt pandan cake” in Bahasa Malaysia, referring to the traditional method of baking the cake using burnt coconut husks. Nowadays, the cake is typically baked in an oven. The kuih is traditionally prepared in a cast-iron mould shaped like a frangipani flower, known as Bunga Kemboja in Malaysia. Aside from its aesthetic appeal, the flower-shaped mould provides the cake with a larger surface area, resulting in delightful crusty edges when baked.
To create Kuih Bakar Pandan, a mixture of pandan leaf juice, eggs, flour, coconut milk, butter (or margarine/ghee), and sugar is combined until a runny batter is formed. Sometimes, green food coloring is added to enhance the vibrant green hue of the batter. The prepared batter is poured into a preheated and greased mould. Before baking, sesame seeds are sprinkled on top. As the cake bakes in the oven, it will rise and expand like a soufflé, only to deflate upon cooling.
Kuih Bakar Pandan delights the palate with its rich, soft, and eggy texture, resembling a delightful cross between a pudding and a cake. The crust acquires a slight crispness due to caramelization and the addition of sesame seeds. Furthermore, the cake fills the room with a delightful aroma of pandan and nutty sesame seeds.
Traditionally, Kuih Bakar Pandan is commonly found in Malay homes and Malay shops/stalls, particularly during festive seasons such as Hari Raya throughout Malaysia. Some establishments still adhere to the traditional method of baking the cake using burnt coconut husks, adding a unique touch to its preparation.