Ramblings about food, cooking, recipes, travels, history and walking around Manila.
There are a few varieties of huat kueh recipes that uses different main ingredients depending from the clans they came from. For example, the Nyonya version uses fermented rice while the Hokkien version usually uses yeast. Nowadays, people use sponge cake mix to make it easier. The different ingredients used will resulted in different huat kueh textures.
The Chinoys in general like huat kuehs as it is used in temple offerings and it also symbolizes prosperity because the way it “blooms” while steaming. There are several recipes for it. But in general, huat kueh recipes have two main variables: type of leavening agent and type of flour. The leavening or rising agent is what makes the huat kueh flourish or look like a flower.. One can also use yeast, baking powder, eggs or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). The flour used is could be any of the following: plain flour, self raising flour, rice flour or a combination of any 2 mentioned.
I enjoyed eating the Hokkien version of huat kueh as a child. though were times, some store bought kinds can induce choking if you don’t have tea, water or anything to drink with it. What I always do before eating it is to steam it a bit, cut the huat kueh in half and top it with a thick slice of cold butter. Blasphemous for some! 😋😋 The sweetness of the huat kueh and the saltiness from the butter blends very well together.
My great grandmother, grandmother and my mom always made sure we have this when we do our offering for the dead or deities. And more often than not, I’m the one sent to the store to buy them. It’s a bit time consuming to make them yourself, but very helpful if the stores run out of huat kehs (It happened to us last year, Chinese New Year) For the record… my family doesn’t know that my great grandmother taught me how to make them from scratch.
Taima (great grandmother) used to make these in the temple kitchen and not at home. Growing up, I’ve watched her make these together with other elders in the temple. She one day told me to observe what she was doing, I might be able to use it in the future. Who knew I was going to write about this after 25 years???!!
(Makes 7pcs medium sized huat kehs)
40g palm sugar (brown sugar if you palm sugar isn’t available)
2 pandan leaves (use vanilla if you don’t have Pandan Leaves)
11g instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar (white sugar)
1 tbsp plain flour
50ml warm water
250g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1. Mixture #1:
•Knot the pandan leaves. Add palm sugar, water and pandan leaves to a pot. Heat it up over low heat until all the palm sugar are melted. Strain and set aside to cool down to room temperature.
•In a small bowl, add in yeast, sugar, flour and mix well. Then mix in 50ml of lukewarm water.
3. Mixture #3:
•In a mixing bowl, sift in the flour. Then add in sugar and mix well.
•Add in an egg into the mixing bowl and whisk until it becomes breadcrumbs like texture.
4. Once cooled, mix in Mixture #1 & 2 into the mixing bowl with Mixture #3. Whisk well until well incorporated.
*It is important to ensure the palm sugar mixture has cooled down to room temperature before adding it to avoid killing the yeast.
6. Cover and set the mixture aside to rise until double in size. Use a spatula to punch down the dough, and set it aside to rise again. Repeat this step for a total of 3 times.
7. Use an ice cream scooper and fill the mixture into a cupcake moulds/ paper cups until 3/4 full. (I had to use a tablespoon to get rid of the excess.. don’t be like me!)
8. Use a scissors to cut 十 on top of the mixtures.
*This step is to help the kueh to “flower” during steaming session, which will give you the “huat keh” look we’re all used to..
9. Bring water to boil in your steamer. Place in the mixtures, covered and steam over high heat for about 30 minutes.
*If your cake is bigger, adjust the steaming time to about 45 – 60 minutes.
**It is important not to open up the cover during the steaming process. If you ever need to add additional water to your wok, just add it via the side of the cover slowly.
***use a toothpick to see if it will come out clean to determine if its cooked all the way inside.