If not because I bought a package of this cake and I am very impressed, I would not have issued this recipe. I was told that this Foochow ceremonial cake is a nice cake and common in Sibu and Sarikei, Sarawak.
I have never seen this cake sold in Kuching before until my June 2016 trip. I bought a package and I am utterly surprised that it suit my taste bud. The cake is soft, very thin crust and lots of ingredients. It is very aromatic because of the shallot oil and I decided to search for a recipe or try to replicate.
I managed to search one recipe and I proceeded to prepare. I failed terribly because the crust is hard and it does not taste the same. It use the baking method and that possibly is not the traditional way. It is totally different from the one I ate at Kuching. I therefore prepared for the second time based on my own recipe and bingo, it is at least 80% close to the one that I have eaten and I did not give it to any people as I planned to keep it and slowly enjoy myself. Ha-ha.
To be very frank, I knew nothing this Foochow ceremonial cake. I am from Kuching and there are not many Foochow, therefore, I have limited knowledge on Foochow cuisines and food. But I think this lady based in Taiwan gave a brief and concise write up about this ceremonial cake.
Ms. Ding Qian (丁倩）wrote that this cake is a ceremonial cake for Foochow not only limited to wedding ceremony but also for occasions such as house moving, elder’s birthday or kids’ full months ceremony. There are many ingredients in the cake and one of the most important ingredients is the candied pork belly which is very aromatic. She said that the size and ingredients of the cakes seems to differ from olden days. The size is getting bigger and more and more recent ingredients being introduced to cake. She quoted that the reasons is due to the affluence of the income level that prompted the production of more luxurious cake. She is also impressed with the sesame seeds that was dusted on top of the cake and complemented the delicious fillings.
But if you looked at the pictures of this ceremonial cake, there are two versions. The one in Sarawak (Sibu and Sarikei) seems to be round and have sesame seeds on top of the cake but the one in Ayer Tawar West Malaysia seems to be without sesame seeds and square in shape. I believed the fillings are almost similar but with different appearance.
As for the size, it is up to you to decide. But as a general rule of thumb, the dough is about 30% of the fillings. This will yield a very thin crust and it is quite difficult to wrap the filling. Well, practises make perfect. If you want a 5 inches diameter cake with a filling of 300 grams, your dough should be the most 90 grams. Otherwise, your cake will not look attractive.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: About 20 two inches diameter cake
Candied Pork Belly
- 200 grams of pork belly
- Some wine with alcoholic content of more than 40%
- 80 grams of sugar
* You can always prepare more of the the above candied pork belly. It is a preserved item and can be keep very long in the fridge.
- 80 grams of toasted white sesame seeds
- 250 grams of cooked glutinous rice flour aka gao fen
- 250 grams of castor sugar
- 300 grams of candied pork belly (as above)
- 50 grams of peanut powder
- 50 grams of de-skinned red jujube
- 50 grams of toasted walnuts
- 50 grams of melon seeds
- 50 grams of candied winter melon
- 20 grams of shallot oil
- About 80 grams or ml of cold water
- 250 grams of plain flour
- 60 grams of white sugar
- 5 grams of instant yeast
- 30 grams of vegetable shortening or cooking oil or lard
- 120 grams of lukewarm water
*Note: This dough is about 20% more than the required amount. Purposely factor in for emergency purposes.
- Additional 150 grams of sesame seeds for topping the cake
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Cook the pork belly in a pot of hot boiling water for about 5-10 minutes. Timing will depend on the thickness of the pork belly. Drain and let it cool. Once completely cooled, cut the cooked belly into 0.5mm – 1 mm cubes. Put adequate rice wine to cover it and about 50 grams of sugar. Marinate the cooked pork belly in the chiller for at least 24 hours. If it is too wet, just put everything in a hot wok, stir fry for a few minutes for the syrup to thicken. The meat will become transparent and once it cools, sugar will recrystallize.
- Put all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl. Add water gradually and stir until it forms a pliable dough. You may or may not need to use up all the water. As long as you can press tightly into a dough, it is considered as adequate. You can take some fillings to try if it is too hard, if too hard, add more water. Add water until you feel the texture is right (soft enough) to suit your taste buds.
- Divide the fillings into 20 balls of about 60 grams each. If you want to make big cake, you can combine a few balls and make it into a big ball .
- In a mixing bowl, add all the dough ingredients. Knead until the dough is smooth. Transfer out and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 20 dough of about 20 grams each.
- Take a dough, shape round, flatten the dough, put a filling on top of the dough , seal the edges and shape round again.
- Use hand to press down to about 2 cm thick.
- Brush both sides of the cake with water. Put the cake on the bowl with sesame seeds. Pressed hard to ensure that the sesame seeds stick to the cake. Perform the same for the other side.
- Heat up a non stick pan over the stove. Use low to medium heat to pan fry both sides until golden brown or your desired colour tone.
This is an unexpected recipe. If I did not have a chance to try this cake, I will not blog this cake and be able to replicate the cake. I hope this cake will benefit Foochow readers who are looking for the recipe.
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