Learn how to make squishy and rich bika Ambon or Kuih Bingka (honeycomb cake) with this easy, no fuss recipe that gives you amazing honeycomb texture.
SOMETHING I CAN BE PROUD OF FROM MEDAN
Bika Ambon or kuih bingka is one of the very popular cakes originated from Ambon Island in Indonesia and it becomes super popular in my hometown, Medan, West Sumatra. It is actually considered a delicacy. It is made famous by this one shop who started selling only Bika Ambon cake and a few years later, the whole street is filled with other shops selling Bika Ambon too. Those shops are especially busy during the holiday season like Chinese new year, Eid al Fitr, Christmas, I mean..you name it, any occasion. People purchase them mainly for gifting. You will see people packing tens of boxes of these cakes to bring back home all across Indonesia and to overseas too.
HOW BIKA AMBON IS TRADITIONALLY MADE IN INDONESIA
I haven’t had Bika Ambon for a really long time. I always thought it was difficult to make. In Medan, Bika Ambon is traditionally made using Palm Wine (Tuak in Indonesian) instead of yeast. Palm wine is an alcoholic beverage made from the sap of palm tree (according to wikipedia) and it is used in many other cakes back in the old days. I saw my grandma used tuak often in her other baking. Here in Minnesota (or perhaps in the U.S. I must say), I don’t have access to Palm Wine and so yeast is used. The result is still really good.
WHY YOU WILL LIKE THIS RECIPE
1. TASTE LIKE THE REAL THING
I’m not kidding! I was beyond thrilled to have made this probably at least 5 times and they always turned out great. The cake is squisy, soft, with that amazing kaffir lime leaves aroma.
2. NO FANCY EQUIPMENT NEEDED OR DIFFICULT TO FIND INGREDIENTS
All the ingredients can be easily sourced. You may need to get kaffir lime leaves from the Asian store, but if you are lazy, you can always get it from Amazon. You don’t need to do fancy set up to bake the cake either. Just need your oven to bake the bika ambon. That’s it.
3. GREAT HONEYCOMB TEXTURE
Seeing those tubes running from top to bottom just made my day. In Indonesia we call this bika ambon bersarang. Bersarang means honeycomb-like.
This recipe uses pretty common ingredients with an exception on kaffir lime leaves, which you may need to find at Asian grocery store or get it online from Amazon.
Instant yeast (my favorite instant yeast)
Kaffir Lime Leaves
HOW TO MAKE AUTHENTIC BIKA AMBON AT HOME
1. PREPARE THE BATTER
Place the coconut cream, salt, sugar, turmeric powder, kaffir lime leaves in a sauce pan
Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes but do not let the coconut cream to boil
So here you have the tapioca flour + sugar + salt + yeast, coconut cream mixture, and eggs
Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to beat the eggs until foamy. Gradually add in tapioca flour, yeast, and the coconut cream mixture you prepared above until combined (make sure it’s not hot and only warm)
2. REST THE BATTER
Cover with a plastic wrap and let it sit at a warm place for 5 hours. Since it is winter here when I made this, I use my oven “breadproof” function and let the batter sit in there. The batter will have lots of bubbles because of the yeast
3. BAKE THE CAKE
Preheat your oven to 330 F. I use a 20 x 10 x 6 cm loaf pan so that the cake is a bit “higher”. You can use 7 x 7 inch square pan. Brush the pan with some oil and then line with parchment paper on the bottom. The oil helps to keep the paper in place. Give your batter a gentle stir as the tapioca flour tend to settle at the bottom. Pour the batter inside the pan
Place it inside the oven (3rd rack from top) and bake for 35 minutes and then increase the temperature to 350 F and bake for another 15 minutes or until tootha pick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and the cake doesn’t jiggle anymore in the middle. The top should be golden brown
You will not be disappointed with the result. The texture and taste are just spot on!
The cake is soft and you can bend it without tearing the cake
The squishiest ever too!
My two kids and hubby love this bika ambon for sure!
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER BIKA AMBON
STORING: Bika Ambon can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week max. They do tend to harden once it is refrigerated. REHEATING: Simply steam them over high heat for 1 minute and they are as good as new or you can microwave them by placing them on a plate and then cover with a damped paper towel and microwave on high for a minute or until heated through and soften.
Recipe was originally adapted from Kitchen Tigress in 2017 and I modified to lengthen the resting period and standardize the recipe for easy measuring.
Bika Ambon Panggang / Kuih Bingka (with honeycomb texture)
Prepare the cake batter:
- Place the coconut cream, salt, sugar, turmeric powder, kaffir lime leaves in a sauce pan. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes but do not let the coconut milk to boil. Remove from the heat and discard the leaves after that and make sure the mixture is warm and not hot (we don't want to kill the yeast later)
- Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to beat the eggs until foamy. Gradually add in tapioca flour, yeast, and the coconut cream mixture you prepared above until combined (make sure it's not hot and only warm)
Let the batter rest:
- Cover with a plastic wrap and let it sit at a warm place for 5 hours. Since it is winter here when I made this, I use my oven "breadproof" function and let the batter sit in there. I used to do only 3 hours but with 5 hours, the flavor is even better and the honeycomb texture is much nicer too
- The batter will have lots of bubbles because of the yeast
Bake the cake:
- Preheat your oven to 330 F. I use a 20 x 10 x 6 cm loaf pan so that the cake is a bit "higher". You can use 7 x 7 inch square pan. Brush the pan with some oil and then line with parchment paper on the bottom. The oil helps to keep the paper in place.
- Give your batter a gentle stir as the tapioca flour tend to settle at the bottom. Pour the batter inside the pan and place it inside the oven (3rd rack from top) and bake for 35 minutes and then increase the temperature to 350 F and bake for another 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and the cake doesn't jiggle anymore in the middle. The top should be golden brown
- Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan. Loosen the four sides of the cake with a knife and then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool down completely on the cooling rack before slicing
OTHER DELICIOUS CHINESE NEW YEAR SWEET TREATS YOU MUST CHECK OUT
Christine from Vermillion Roots Organized this #SweetLunarNewYear Party where food bloggers come together to share their favorite sweet treat in this virtual Chinese New Year Party. Here are the list of 26 sweet treats you DO NOT want to miss! Thank you so much Christine for including me in your party again this year. I’m just honored to be in the list among these wonderfully talented people! I wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Chai. May this year of Rooster brings you health, prosperity, wealth, wisdom, and harmony!
Snow Fungus Soup by Vermilion Roots
Chinese Peanut Cookies by Wok & Skillet
Vietnamese Steamed Rice Cakes by A Taste of Joy and Love
Gluten-Free Chinese Almond Cookies by Grits & Chopsticks
Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies by Little Sweet Baker
Ice Cream Mooncakes by Brunch-n-Bites
Coconut Red Bean Pudding by The Missing Lokness
Korean Caramelized Sweet Potatoes (Goguma Mattang) by What Great Grandma Ate
Cashew Nut Cookies by Anncoo Journal
One Bite Pine Nut Cookies by Yummy Workshop
Baked Coconut Walnut Sticky Rice Cake by Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Black Sesame Cream Puffs by Pink Wings
Cashew Nut Cookies by Roti n Rice
Mini Peanut Puffs (Kok Chai) by Malaysian Chinese Kitchen
Thousand Layer Cake (Lapis Legit) by Daily Cooking Quest
Pineapple Cookies (Nastar) by V for Veggy
Almond Orange Spiral Cookies by Butter & Type
Three Color Dessert (Che Ba Mau) by The Viet Vegan
Year of the Rooster Mochi by Thirsty for Tea
Korean Tea Cookies (Dasik) by Kimchimari
Sweet Sticky Nian Gao (Kuih Bakul) by Lisa’s Lemony Kitchen
Sweet Rice Balls with Peanut Butter (Tang Yuan) by Omnivore’s Cookbook
Candied Ginger (Mut Gung) by Plant Crush
Chick Egg Tarts by Dessert Girl
Red Bean Soup with Black Glutinous Rice by Nut Free Wok
Orange Scented Sweet Red Bean by Lime and Cilantro