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This is a Vietnamese/Chinese cake called bánh bò (Vietnamese) or bak tong goh (Chinese). Literally translated, the Vietnamese name Bánh Bò, means Cow Cake/Pastry or Crawl Cake/Pastry The cake (Bò can mean either cow or to crawl). How this name came to be, I have no idea. The Chinese name Bak Tong Goh, translates to White Sugar Cake, which makes sense since the cake is traditionally white and made with white sugar. This cake originated in china and made its way into Vietnam via the Chinese colonization of Vietnam. The Vietnamese took this cake and made it their own with the aid of coconut milk (in the batter and as a dipping sauce) and pandan leaves (lá da) which explains why the vietnamese version is often green. Traditionally, the cake is made with fermented rice wine (aka cm ru). The yeast from the wine leavens the cake and gives it its distinctive “fermented” taste and honeycomb like texture. Modern recipes call for yeast instead of rice wine since yeast works faster and is more convenient; yeast = 100% yeast, rice wine = yeast + water + sugar + rice (the amount of yeast in rice wine is depends on the recipe for the wine…not all recipes are the same thus, it’s much harder to get the recipe right). As for the chewy texture of the cake, it comes from the yeast fermenting with the rice flour.
Dissolve yeast and sugar in water.
Mix flour into yeast mixture.
Let sit over night or until batter rises and falls.
In a sauce pan bring water, coconut milk and sugar to a boil.
Boil until all of the sugar has dissolved.
Let cool to room temp.
Mix the batter and water, sugar and coconut milk.
Allow to rest for a half hour.
Steam mixture in egg poaching pan. Spray egg cups with cooking spray or brush with vegetible oil. Steam each batch for 15 minutes.
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