Unlike savoury dishes, I have not much to write kuih backgrounds.. Many kuih recipes are very similar with a little twist here and there by different races. Even within the same race, there are many variants to suit individual taste buds and in my humble opinion, none shall claimed the originality of a recipe since we are living in the same region. Cross cultural preparation method is inevitable.
One of them is this apam berkuah . Apam is basically yeast leavened type of rice flour cake. Berkuah basically means it goes with some type of thick gravy and in this recipe, the thick gravy that was served was pengat pisang (banana in thick coconut milk).
Chinese have its “apam” recipe and one of the most common type is this Teochew Huat Kuih as in this post:Teochew Huat Kuih or Ka Kuih (潮州发糕，潮州酵糕，米糕， 松糕）
Malay have another version called apam beras or apam nasi, which is also using the same ingredients but usually in different shapes. If you are interested, you can refer to this post: Apam Beras (马来蒸米糕·）
The Peranakan have the same type of rice flour cake but it was prepared in a very specific mould. It was much thinner and usually served with thick coconut gravy. I have ever tasted this kuih in one of the famous nonya kuih stores in Malacca and it was such a disappointment especially the pengat pisang which is not fresh..
If you looked closely the texture, the three kuih has similar texture. It is fluffy, springy, slightly tangy (if over proofed) and full of rice aroma. Since I have already two recipes on rice flour cake leavened by yeast, for this recipe, I have designed my own recipe and confident that it will work beautifully. In fact, it worked as intended. The only regret that I have is I do not have the mould and that make the kuih looked less authentic. It is thinner and the airy structure are not as constant possibly due to different heat circulation that affected the kuih. Well, I also do not intend to invest in a mould just for a particular recipe.
Unlike most other recipes, I do not use coconut water and my proofing time is rather short. All this while for this type rice batter, I will precook it until thick to improve the chances of success. It will then be proofed and usually for this stage, proofing time will be fast to get until double in size. If I found the batter is too thick, I will just dilute with some more warm water and i am ready to do the steaming or in this case, pan frying..
Again, this may not be the authentic Peranakan recipe but what I can assure you is that this is the texture that was sold in the kuih stalls. It is springy with rice aroma.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: About 30 Apam berkuah, depending on size
- 6 grams of instant yeast
- 50 grams of plain flour
- 50 grams of lukewarm water
Rice Flour Batter
- 250 grams of rice flour
- 20 grams of glutinous rice flour
- 200 grams or ml of coconut milk
- 250 grams of plain water
- 50 grams of white sugar
- 2 tablespoons of thick bunga telang concentrate
- 2 medium size bananas
- 80 grams of palm sugar (gula melaka or gula apong)
- 200 grams or ml of thick coconut milk
- 300 grams of plain water
- 2 tablespoons of plain flour
- 6 pandan leaves, bundled
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients of yeast starter (lukewarm water, yeast and plain flour). Stir until well mixed. Set aside at a warm place for proofing.
- In pan, put in the rice flour, glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and water. Stir until well mix. Place on top of a stove, cook under low heat until the rice flour slightly thickens. Constant stirring is required and thickening of the batter can occur rather fast. Once it thickens, set aside for it to cool until 25-30 degrees or it would not hurt your hand when you touch the sticky batter. (Note: If your batter is too hot, it will kill the yeast)
- By now, the yeast should be frothy with a lot of bubbles. If not bubbles are noted, do not proceed as your yeast may be dead. You will need to get some new yeast and do the dough starter again.
- Once the thicken rice flour solution is lukewarm, pour the starter dough into the rice flour solution. Stir until well combined. Divide into 3 portion, add your preferred colouring, stir until well combined. Let it proof in a warm place until double in size and cover with a wet towel. (Note, you can also take a few tablespoons of the rice batter and add bunga telang juices at this stage)
- While the rice batter is proofing, prepare the pengat pisang. Put all the ingredients (pandan leaves, plain flour, palm sugar, coconut milk and water) in a pot and bring to boil. Constant stirring is required as it can get thicken rather fast. If it is too thick, add some more water . Once it boils, add the freshly cut banana, off the heat and set aside for cooling.
- Once the rice batter has been proofed, take 3-4 tablespoons of the proof rice batter, add the bunga telang juice and stir until well combined. Note that this step can be done before proofing too .
- Heat up a non stick frying pan using medium heat, put 1-1.5 tablespoons of rice batter and slightly smear it to form a circle. Quickly put a small quantities of the blue coloured rice batter on top of the white batter. Pan fry under medium heat until the top dries up.
- When you pan fry the first cake, if there is no holes or bubbles, it means that the batter is not ready. Stop and wait for a while. You may need to try a few to get a reasonable look of your rice cake. Don’t get disheartened by your first cake.
- If you cannot smear, it means it is too thick. Add a few tablespoons of water to make it more liquid. If it flow out too fast, it means it is too watery and you have to add 1-2 tablespoon of ‘PLAIN FLOUR” to salvage. In this case, you have to let it proof for another 15 minutes before proceeding again.
- Put the batter as thin as possible. Too thick batter will have difficulty to cook the top and produce airy holes since we are not using the specific moulds.
- Your first cake is your yardstick whether you should proceed further. Do not proceed it does not look like what you are expecting. Do necessary adjustments as stated above.
Well, I knew my recipe is rather different from other Peranakan recipe and I never claimed that mine is authentic.. What I can assure readers is that the output or the final “apam” taste like what I have purchased in Melaka this June. I dare to issue this recipe because I am satisfied with this method of preparation and be it Malay kuih or Chinese rice flour huat kuih (without eno and baking powder), they can all be used the same method of preparation.. Possibly, they all come from the same source. I do hope that readers will give this recipe a try and let me know if this is what you are looking for.
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