Traditional Malay Night Market Desserts
I grew up in Malaysia, but I moved to the United States with my husband three years ago. Not long after I arrived, I started to miss the food from back home. Among the things I miss the most are the traditional Malay desserts. Back home, I loved going to the pasar malam, or night market, to enjoy the delicious and flavorful cakes. There were so many to choose from—and sometimes, I got very excited and ended up eating a few too many.
Yesterday, I decided to make one of my favorite desserts: steamed pandan coconut cake or kuih puteri ayu. These spongey cakes are a delightful combination of salty and sweet—salty from the coconut mixture on top and sweet from the pandan leaves on the bottom. The process of preparing these cakes is also a wonderful treat, as the fragrance from the pandan leaves makes my kitchen smell lovely.
Pandan Leaves in Malay Cooking
Malay cooking has been an important part of my life since I was young. I grew up in a small town with a traditional Malay family. I learned to cook by helping my mother in the kitchen, and it was with her that I started to recognize some of the main ingredients of our cuisine.
One of those essential ingredients is daun pandan, or pandan leaves, which are often used for coloring and flavoring. Many Malay desserts call for pandan leaves, and one such dessert is the steamed pandan coconut cake.
How to Get the Best Flavor for Kuih Puteri Ayu
To make this cake, in addition to pandan leaves, you will need freshly grated coconut and coconut milk. I highly recommend using authentic ingredients because that's how you will get the best flavor.
Some people may prefer to use artificial coloring and flavoring for this cake, and you are welcome to do whatever is easiest for you. However, you will get a better flavor if you use real ingredients, and you should be able to find everything you need at your nearest Asian market.
These cakes are delicious with coffee or tea.
For the Pandan Juice:
- 8 to 10 pandan leaves, cut into thin strips
- Water for blending
For the Cakes:
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Make the pandan juice: Take the pandan leaf strips and place them in a blender. Pour in some water (enough to rise up about two-thirds of the way) and blend until fine. Use a strainer and press out the juice into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and salt. Use a hand mixer to beat the ingredients until they are well combined.
- Add the flour and baking powder to the mixture. Use a spatula to mix.
- Add the coconut milk and stir to combine.
- Add 5 to 6 tablespoons of the fresh pandan juice and stir to combine. The batter should be smooth and thin. Set aside.
- In a bowl, mix the freshly grated coconut with a teaspoon of salt. Steam the mixture for 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Lightly brush the cake molds with some oil. Fill the bottom of each mold with shredded coconut mixture. I like to use silicone cake molds because they're so easy to work with.
- Fill each cake mold with batter by using an ice cream scoop or a spoon.
- Steam the cakes in a steamer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Let the cakes cool before removing them from the molds.
- Serve cakes while warm with a cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy!
Silicone Cupcake Molds
© 2019 Liza