Pandan is the umami of south east asian cuisine, the vanilla essence of our dessert staple and the truffle sweet yeast of our bread. And then there’s Ondeh Ondeh, the queen of the pandan umami bomb.
Exploding balls of coconut glutinous goodness. Growing up, these sticky treats, coated with coconut shavings filled with gula melaka and that pandan aroma was always a childhood delight.
I had myself an Ondeh Ondeh Cupcake some years ago. It came with a whole ondeh ondeh perched on top of a cupcake. It works as an Instagram boast, I mean post, but not quite so edibly pleasant. I mean, in Singaporean speak, it was ‘wah piang damn jerlat!’. The smallest instance of sugar surfeit with glutinous overkill in one bite. Cake and glutinous rice flour isn’t the best combination.
When I was in Malaysia recently, a friend told me I had to go try this ondeh ondeh cake at this ‘can’t remember what it’s called’ new hipster joint. Said it was amazing. Although I didn’t get a chance to, a recent picture of a friend’s ondeh ondeh cake on social media was enough to inspire me to try and make it.
Ondeh Ondeh has 3 basic flavours - Gula Melaka (Brown Palm Sugar), Pandan and Coconut shavings. In Hong Kong, it isn’t easy to find Gula Melaka. The closest I could find was Gula Kelapa, which I’m told, isn’t the same thing. So, I made a Gula Melaka hack with kokuto, okinawa black sugar, only because I’m lazy to go hunt for said sugar. Tastes and smells pretty close. The key is adding a pinch of salt.
It also turned out to be tricky balancing flavour with sweetness. Ondeh Ondeh itself is a very sweet dessert but the glutinous texture helps to balance out the sweetness.
The idea is to turn a butter cake recipe into a pandan cake, layered with black sugar frosting, desiccated coconut and pandan coconut glaze. And, the result was, surprisingly, not too shabby.
Ondeh Ondeh CakeINGREDIENTS
- For the Cake
- 250g Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
- 200g White Castor Sugar (1 Cup)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tsp pandan essence
- 3 eggs
- 282.5g Cake Flour (2.5 cups)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 160ml coconut milk (2/3 cup)
- 120g kokuto black sugar (or brown sugar)
- 60ml water
- 60ml coconut milk
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- Pinch of salt
- 80-100ml Coconut Milk (1/3 cup)
- 75g White Sugar (6 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp Cornflour
- 1/2 tsp Pandan Essence Others
- Dessicated coconut
- Preheat Oven to 180ºC or 375F, Grease or line a cake pan that is minimum 20 cm diameter.
- In an electric mixer, using the paddle hook, cream sugar, vanilla, pandan essence and softened butter on medium high speed till fluffy and light. It will take a good 5 - 10 minutes. You might need to stop the machine half way to scrap everything down the bowl.
- While mixer is running, combine Cake Flour and Baking Powder in a seperate bowl and stir to mix well.
- When the butter mixture is fluffy like a soft serve texture and the colour has lightened considerably, you may now add the eggs.
- Add one egg at a time, making sure that each egg is beaten, into the mixer with the same paddle hook. You have a choice of mixing by hand or turn the speed to stirring/low. Continue to cream till each beaten egg is well combined with the mixture, until all eggs are added.
- Add half of flour mixture and keep machine stirring until combine. Add half of the coconut milk, stir till combined. Add the rest of the flour, stir till combined, followed by rest of coconut milk, stirring till fully combined. The finished batter should resemble that of soft serve gelato, spreadable and pliable but form stiff peaks.
- Spread mixture onto a cake pan and bake for 1 hour. At about 45 minutes, test with skewer inserted into middle of cake to make sure it comes out clean. Otherwise bake cake for an extra 15 mins till the cake is fully baked. Note: If your pan is wider, resulting in a shallower pan, baking time should be considerably reduced to around 35- 45 minutes. Rule of thumb is always, deeper the pan, longer bake time.
- When cake is baked, remove from oven and cool on a rack and let it come to room temperature before assembling.
- Add kokuto and coconut milk into a saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- In a small jug, mix water and cornflour, whisk well to combine.
- When coconut and sugar is simmering, give the cornflour water mixture a vigorous stir to ensure it's well mixed before adding it into the saucepan.
- Add a pinch of salt. Stir continously with the whisk while lowering the heat until mixture thickens. It should no more than 10 minutes. You know the mixture is ready when you can draw lines in the bottom of pan with whisk.
- You can thicken it as much as you want, but bear in mind that when it cools it will thicken a lot more than when it is hot. If it becomes too thick and not pliable, add more water and bring back to a simmer to thin out the mixture.
- In a seperate saucepan, combine pandan essence, coconut milk, cornflour and sugar. Whisk well and set over medium/low heat and bring it to a light simmer.
- Reduce and thicken mixture to desired texture. No more than 10 minutes. If you've gone too far, add more coconut milk and whisk to combine to thin out mixture over low heat.
- Make sure cake, frosting and glaze are cooled to room tepature before assembling.
- Carefully slice the top layer of the cake, cutting across horizontally, to get two equal layers, to be ready to assemble with the rest of the ingredients.
- Spread the Black Sugar Frosting over top of the base layer of cake. Sprinkle dessicated coconut generously over the frosting.
- Place second layer of cake over the dressed base layer of cake. Spread the Pandan Coconut Glaze on the top cake layer. Sprinkle generously with dessicated coconut. Your Ondeh Ondeh cake is now ready.
- Keep refrigerated to store. Best served slightly warm or room temperature. I like mine set to heat 20 seconds in microwave fresh out of the fridge.
For the Black Sugar Frosting
For the Pandan Coconut Glaze
Takes Serves 8 or more large slices of cake.
Baking the Cake
While the cake is in the oven baking, proceed to make the frosting and glaze below.
Black Sugar Frosting (my gula melaka hack)
Pandan Coconut Glaze
Assembling the Ondeh Ondeh Cake
Asian Australian food adventures in and out of the kitchen. Around the world. Like an oyster searching for it's pearl.