When I was pregnant and craving Malaysian food - and unable to cook them as I can't even stand that long to stir anything in the kitchen let alone smell anything for the first 4 months - I was trawling Malay foodblogs to salivate over recipes and the pictures of glorious home cooked food. I made millions mental notes on which recipe to try as soon as I can and my head was swimming of dinner parties ideas. Needless to say a lot of the recipes and pictures filled me with acute nostalgia and the longing for the scents and taste of a land I once called home.
A friend used to tease me on Messenger - are you craving for Budu today? Are you craving for Ikan Keli Masak Lemak Cili Padi (Eel in coconut and chili broth)? Are you craving for Kerabu Perut (Tripe salad) I told him I don't eat such thing and how can you have a craving for things you have no food memory of?
My Malaysian food cravings were very normal almost boring - I wanted kuih and I wanted them at tea time with my coffee. My husband manage to get some Indonesian kuih for me and our cleaner made kuih bom especially for me when she was made aware of my cravings.
But there are so many kuihs you can't get here and have to make for yourself - serimuka for instance and bingka or kuih bakar especially my favourite bingka jagung. My Mom used to make a kuih or cakes for afternoon tea everyday when we were small. Much later, my dad used to buy the kuihs for tea but everytime Mom made a bingka it is such a treat - I would actually give up dinner (I thought of it really... alas) just to eat her bingka. My uncles even resort to hiding a portion of her bingka to enjoy alone later.
What is Bingka or Kuih Bakar? The western equivalent is clafouti - it is essentially custard, pudding and cake at the same time. The holy trinity of basic Bingka ingredients are eggs, coconut milk and flour. Bingka is always baked in the oven hence the name Kuih Bakar (baked Kuih) in some states. The most popular bingka or kuih bakar is probably the green Bingka Pandan - made of the 3 ingredients and screwpine leaves and also usually sold whole in a flower shape called Bingka Kemboja. The other equally ubiquitous bingka is Bingka Ubi - made of tapioca.
No matter how I tried my bingka never tasted alike maybe because I have never bothered to measure the ingredients but always cook with instinct or agak-agak as we say in Malaysia. One tip is to make sure you use a teaspoon of salt whenever you cook with coconut milk because it will bring out the *lemak* - rich taste of the coconut and this is very important in kuihs. Without salt the kuih usually taste flat. And the most important thing to achieve in making a successful bingka is the sweet-salty-lemak taste followed by whichever flavour/fuit you use.
I found a very sound Kuih Bakar Jagung recipe in one of the darlings of Malay bloggers, Mat Gebu and thought I should try it and it was a success. The only thing I changed in his recipe is the food colouring and the order of mixing. I am so happy with the outcome of the reipe that I am going to use it as the basis of my future bingka endeavours and probably just tweak it to add other fruits/ingredients.
(adapted from Mat Gebu's Kuih Bakar Jagung)
400ml coconut milk - I used a canned coconut milk
1 can creamed corn - mine was 340ml
2 TBSp butter - melted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1. Heat the oven to 160C.
2. In a bowl whisk eggs and sugar.
3. Combine the coconut milk, salt and water and add into the egg mixture.
4. Fold in the flour.
5. Add the vanilla essence and melted butter.
6. Mix in the cream corn.
7. Pour into your baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
8. Let cool and serve. The bingka is lekker to eat immediately and the day after it is made and can be kept in the fridge for 3 days.