Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bika Ambon (Indonesian Yeast Cake)

Bika Ambon

Yes, I'm making everyone overwhelmed with this amount of sugary treats! As a result of trying this and that, including the not-so-successful ones, we have to give those away to practically everyone. My dad would give one piece or two to any of his friends coming to our house. Even our carpenters (my dad produces and trades old wooden furniture, so please expect my photos to be a bit more beautiful while I'm here, with all the woody tones!) get some share lately - not something that happens everyday.

The only thing I hate here is the sun. I love sunny days and warm, humid tropical weather, but the only time I have to take photos are early mornings or late afternoons. Oh, one more thing. Food here is consumed straight after they come out of the kitchen! *sigh* Fortunately we don't make everything in a supersmall batch as I am used to do in Melbourne, thus leaving me with some leftovers I can play around with later.

Bika Ambon

Okay, enough babbling.. This "bika ambon" thingy doesn't have any official English name, I guess. The name is confusing even to us Indonesians: "Ambon" is a name of an island and also a city in Indonesia, but this cake is said to originate from Medan, another city in another island. And those cities are not close at all to each other! I wonder how people came up with such name. Oh well, basically it's a very rich yeast cake, with a honeycomb-y texture. That's what make this cake unique.

Bika Ambon

Traditionally this cake is baked using oven on lower heat setting. I once tried baking this cake in regular convection oven and it couldn't yield nice honeycomb-y texture. Many people succeeded doing so, though, and I will try it again when I get back in Melbourne. This time I cooked this cake using a stovetop pancake maker (similar to this in appearance).

Bika Ambon
2 tsp powdered sugar
2 tsp plain flour
1 tsp instant dry yeast
3 tbsp water

4 egg yolks
75 gr caster sugar
35 gr sago flour
75 ml coconut cream
3 kaffir lime leaves, shredded

1. Bring coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, strain the shredded leaves and let cool.
2. Make the sponge: combine all ingredients and set aside for 15 minutes.
3. Whisk egg yolks and caster sugar in a medium bowl until thick and pale.
4. Whisking slowly, fold in sponge mixture, sago flour, and cooled coconut cream. Whisk until combined, ensuring there is no lumps. Batter will be runny.
5. Cover and set aside for 3 hours. The batter will be runny and bubbly. Stir once or twice, just to mix any lumps in the bottom of the bowl.
6. Grease and preheat pan (or oven to 170C). Cook for 15 minutes if you are making 10-cm diameter mini cakes like me, or 1 hour if you cook them in the oven using standard baking pan.

If using convection oven, leave the door ajar and preheat the baking pan first before pouring the batter. People say this is the trick (the last time I tried baking this in my convection oven, I didn't preheat the baking pan. I believe that's why my bika ambon was unsuccessful)

Bika Ambon

This post is also for YeastSpotting.


Mochachocolata Rita said...

wahhh bika ambon kesukaan....aduh tapi kok males banget bikin yakkkk...minta aja deh kalo gitu

J said...

#rita: gampang kok bikin'e.. cuma lama nunggunya ae :-)

Мария said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Мария said...

Is it possible to use tapioca flour instead of sago?

J said...

#Мария: I have never tried it, but I just do a quick Google research and found out that many Indonesians use tapioca flour (not tapioca starch) and it turns out great also.. we'd better try! :)

lisamichele said...

That Yeast cake looks amazing, and it's something I must try - so golden and lovely! Plus, I love Indonesian food in general! Beautiuflly done, and love how you stacked it as a sandwich!

pragmaticattic said...

Fascinating! Amazing cake, beautiful pictures.

J said...

thanks lisa and pragmaticattic :)

Olivia said...

Hi J thank you so much for sharing this recipe. This is my favourite kueh. I once had it in Medan and fell in love with it instantly. Will try it out one day and link you to my blog. cheers

dharson said...

O thank you so much for this recipe. I wanted to know this for so long but everybody I askes didn't know how to make this.

Just one question, can you maybe explain what sugo is? I live in Holland, so I have to find it here.

J said...

#dharson: according to wikipedia, "Sago is a starch extracted from the pith of sago palm stems".

some people like to use tapioca flour instead of sago. I personally have never tried it, but seems like others have done it successfully :)

dharson said...

Thanks for answering. I also search yesterday and it turnes out it is also called Sago here in Holland. So I'll just go to the store and ask for it.

I'm certainly gonna make this one of these days.

Yesterday I made, if you want you can look over here.

Bye, thanks again

girlichef said...

I saw the link to your recipe over at Kenny's place...Chic Eats...looks delicious! I definitely need to give this a try, thanks for sharing the recipe with us :D

Zoe said...

Yummy.. Your recipe has Kaffir lime leaves in it? Interesting. I never try that before. By the way, what is Sago flour? We have a similar dessert in Viet Nam, honey Comb cake. In fact I just made one yesterday.



J said...

#girlichef: sure, give it a try and let me know how it goes :)

#zoe: I just checked your blog - your honeycomb cake looks fantastic too!

Olivia said...

wow beautiful bika ambon... one of my favourite childhoold cake... cheers

nailandra said...

Salam kenal, gambarnya Ok ya.., saya juga bikin bika ambon tekstur pori juga masih belum sempurna. sepertinya proses pemanggangan sangat mempengaruhi pori yang terbentuk

J said...

#nailandra: makasihh :)

fook choy szeto said...

Hello J, I think that your honey comb cake looks extremely nice, and I've tried making it 5 times already but I can't seem to get it to rise, it always turn out flat. Do you have any recommendations of how I can solve this problem?

J said...

#fook choy szeto: do you have a heavy-bottomed pan like cast iron pan for example? if you do perhaps you could try cooking the cake on stovetop instead of baking it in the oven. i've had much more success cooking bika ambon that way rather than using the oven.

i've done this successfully in the oven when i was in indonesia, but i haven't had much luck with the oven here in melbourne. broil mode produced better result but it is still not as good as cooking it on stovetop.

some people put their pan on a baking tray filled with sand. they say this help to even out the heat and help the bika ambon to rise. if you live near a beach, might as well give this trick a try :)

in short, from experience i think bika ambon needs to be cooked with bottom heat (which is why convection oven does not always work). and it needs a good thick pan as well to prevent the bottom from burning before the whole cake gets thoroughly cooked to the top.

hope this helps :)