My grandmother and I have not been baking together for the past 25 years. Sadly, my grandmother's back and health deteriorated and she had to stop cooking after she moved to live in my parent's place. My grandmother passed away last year and all I want is her Kueh Bangkit and pineapple tart cutters. These are exactly the ones that we used 25 years ago...
Kueh Bangkit? Kueh Bangkit is a traditional Nyonya Chinese New Year delicacy. The word, bangkit can be somehow translated as fragrant cookies. It is a cookie that crunches when you bite but melts in your mouth as you chews. Traditionally, they are made of sago flour or in a combination with tapioca flour, mixed to form a cookie dough with thickened coconut milk. These days, sago flour is not easily available and so most Kueh Bangkit are now made with tapioca flour.
I like to bake Kueh Bangkit for this Chinese New Year but I can't remember the recipe from my grandmother that we did 25 years ago. And, so I Goggled and searched my cookbooks and found three interesting recipes. One is from KitchenTigress who is always the first hit whenever I do a Google search with the word, Kueh Bangkit. Two is from the book, Growing up in a Nyonya Kitchen: Singapore Recipes from my Mother by Sharon Wee. Three is from Cooking Pleasure by Kimmy which is almost the exact replicate of recipe Two. I like to adapt these recipes and bake recipe One and Two/Three to see which one is the best.
When I was baking with grandmother, I remember that the consistency of the Kueh Bangkit can vary on different baking days and sometimes, it can be quite difficult to replicate the same good batch of Kueh Bangkit. My illiterate grandmother didn't really know why and all she tried is to agak agak (means estimate in Malay language) as much as she can. After reading KitchenTigress's Kueh Bangkit post, I have realised that water / moisture is mainly the reason. To combat this moisture problem, these are a few things that we can do:
1) The moisture of tapioca flour has to be thoroughly removed by baking for about an hour or "dry-frying" with low heat in a wok or pan.
2) Most tapioca flour contains 10-12% moisture and weighing the tapioca flour before and after drying helps to know if the moisture is effective removed.
3) The water content in coconut milk can be quite high and that's why all the recipes that I have came across emphasize that the coconut milk used should be thick or thicken.
4) Use coconut cream instead of coconut milk. According to KitchenTigress, coconut cream can be easily made by refrigerating until the cream separate.
5) For less fuss and better consistency, I prefer to use canned coconut cream as making your own coconut cream can vary in its water content.
Some of you might say that canned coconut milk or cream are not as fragrant and natural as the freshly squeezed ones. Yes that I have to agree with you but the water and fat content of coconut milk from different coconut can often vary dramatically. For this reason, I prefer to use the canned ones for my baking because it produces better consistency.
For Chinese New Year 2014, my family, bake-along with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Lena from Frozen wings and my wonderful baking memory with my grandmother, I am baking these Kueh Bangkit. They melt in our mouth and melt my heart too...
Which recipe is the better one? KitchenTigress (kt's) or Cooking Pleasure's (Kimmy's)? My answer will be revealed soon...
|Kueh Bangkit: Traditional Nyonya Coconut Cookies|
|I like to discuss the fat content of coconut milk/cream. Please use the fattest option to bake these cookies!|
|Cooking the flour with pandan prior baking helps to remove its water content and give it a hint of pandan flavour.|
|Christmas is not over yet!!? Cooking tapioca flour on the stove makes my kitchen a snowy wonderland... LOL!|
|Notice that kt's dough is so much smoother than Kimmy's one|
|I'm using this wooden mould that I bought from Sonia (Nasi lemak Lover) and these special priceless cutters from my grandmother.|
|The dough made with Kimmy's recipe was difficult to handle and so I gave up using the wooden mould totally.|
|Eventually, I managed to bake heaps of heart and stars cookies using Kimmy's recipe.|
|The dough made with kt's recipe was easier to handle. I baked them as leaves and pear-flower-shaped cookies.|
|Taste-wise, which is better?|
|We all prefer Kimmy's!!!|
These are the adapted recipes that I have explored:
Recipe One is from KitchenTigress
Recipe Two/Three are almost the same and they are from the book, Growing up in a Nyonya Kitchen: Singapore Recipes from my Mother by Sharon Wee and Cooking Pleasure by Kimmy.
The coconut cream that I used for both bake is Ayam brand. The fat content of Ayam brand coconut cream is 29.3g/100g (saturated: 26.4g/100g) which is only 5g more fat in every 100g as compared to the regular Ayam brand coconut milk (24.3g /100g fat, saturated: 21.6g). 5g fat only? I'm surprised seeing this difference but I prefer to use coconut cream for the little extra creaminess. In regardless, please DO NOT USE the lightest Ayam brand coconut milk which contains 13.4g/100g fat, saturated 12g/100g.
Method used for both recipes is mostly adapted by the book, Growing up in a Nyonya Kitchen: Singapore Recipes from my Mother by Sharon Wee and also Cooking Pleasure by Kimmy.
Place flour (plus flour and salt) and pandan leaves in a large-surface pan. Cook flour with low heat and constant stirring until flour become light and the pandan leaves become dried and "crispy" looking (about 15-20 mins). The dried-looking pandan leaves will be a good indication that the flour is cooked enough. Otherwise to confirm, weigh the flour before and after cooking and if the flour is cooked enough, the difference in weight should be approximately 10%. Allow the cooked flour to cool completely. Remove and discard the pandan leaves. Sift flour and set aside. According to Kimmy, this step can be done days ahead. Alternatively, the tapioca flour can be cooked by baking it for about an hour but I prefer to cook it on the stove because this method is more energy efficient and less time consuming. Although it is true that cooking tapioca flour on the stove had made my kitchen "white" and "snowy", mixing the dough had made my kitchen "white" and "snowy" anyway. It didn't make any difference as I had to clean up my kitchen either ways.... mop mop mop...
Besides dry-frying the amount of tapioca flour required, please remember to cook some extra (about 1 cup) for dusting and shaping of kueh bangkit too.
Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until creamy and the sugar is totally dissolved.
While beating in lower speed, add flour and butter into the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated. While mixing in low speed, gradually add coconut cream bit by bit until the dough looks smooth.
Remove the dough from the electric mixer and knead it until it is smooth and doesn't stick to your hand. Cover the dough with a damp cloth, rest for at least 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan forced. Line baking trays with baking paper and dust the paper with excess dried flour. Lightly dust worktop and rolling pin with extra dried flour too.
6. To shape:
i) either roll portions of the dough to 3 mm thick, dusting as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut dough with dusted cookie cutters. Place cookies on baking tray spaced 1 cm apart. Optional: decorate the cookies using a crimp to give them a traditional look.
ii) dust the wooden Kueh Bangkit moulds with dried flour, pinch portions of dough and press them into the moulds one by one. Trim off any excess using a knife.Knock the shaped dough off the mould and arrange the cookies onto the prepared baking tray. Note: As most of the dough made with Kimmy's recipe was stuck in the wooden mould, I had given up this shaping method completely.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 12-15 mins or until their bottom or the sides are slightly brown with light hint of colour at the edges. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve or store in airtight containers.
Why we prefer Kimmy's recipe?
I would like to start by showing how I tabulated and calculated to the recipe that I have adapted above:
KitchenTigress's recipe is first converted to 500g flour in total and I have used half of the recipe as Recipe One in the above table.
As you can see, both Sharon's (the book) and Kimmy's recipes look very similar and I have standardise both and used half of the recipe as Recipe Two in the above table.
Depending on the sizes of cookies cutters, recipe one (kt) yields 65 cookies and recipe two (Kimmy) yields 110 smaller cookies. With less sugar, it is obvious that the cookies made with recipe two is less sweeter. Strangely, the difference in sweetness doesn't make any difference to us. In fact, it is the texture that matters!
The slight difference between two recipes is the proportion of egg and egg yolk used and also the presence of plain flour in recipe one (kt). Otherwise, all other ingredients apart from the sugar, egg and egg yolk, the presence of plain flour are almost the same. You know what? I'm totally surprised that this slight difference does yield a lot difference in both dough and cookies texture! The dough made with recipe one (kt) was extremely easy to handle while the dough made with recipe two (Kimmy) crumbled easily and made rolling and cutting quite difficult. Ironically, the cookies made with recipe two (Kimmy) is so much more delicious that the ones made with recipe one (kt) as the Kimmy's ones crumbled and melt in our mouth. In contrast, kt's ones were slightly crunchy and a little chewy if they were under-baked. For this reason, I have baked Kimmy's cookies for 12 mins and baked kt's for 15 mins.
My conclusion: I can't help to think that the kueh bangkit recipe that uses more egg yolk and less egg white with all tapioca flour is obviously better.
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