Sophie here, calling in from a little blog called Stovetop Revolution. i’m sweeping into Jessie’s wonderful spot on the internet to bake you girls something sweet for afternoon tea. if Jessie is a hearts and stars kind of girl, i’m the kind made of salted caramel and a little butter, with a penchant for picnics and outdoor cinemas. and cake, of course.
this here is a Malaysian Honeycomb Cake, or as its Malaysian name (kuih sarang semut) translates as, an ‘ants nest cake’. sugar is cooked and melted down to a swirly, sticky amber toffee, and is mixed with that magnificent stuff they call condensed milk, flour, butter and vanilla, and all that bakes up to a beautifully dark cake, with a sort of lacy, crackled toffee top, and hollow rivers that run through the insides (thus the antsy name) that you can spy when you cut a slice. it’s a little bouncy in texture, but i love the chewiness of it, it gets stuck in your teeth and also in your brain. i’ve been thinking about it all week. happy baking, and thanks to Miss Aylmore for having me over here even if only for a little while.
Malaysian Honeycomb Cake (ants nest cake)
adapted from Two Asian Kitchens by Adam Liaw.
220g caster sugar
85g unsalted butter, softened
1/2tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature
125ml condensed milk
150g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
preheat a fan-forced oven to 170 degrees.
place the caster sugar in a medium-large frying pan mixed with about 3 tbs of water (to help the melting process) and heat over a medium-high heat, try not to stir it, until melted to a dark caramel. this will take about 8-10 minutes. turn the heat down to low, and add 250ml of water to the frying pan – stand back because it will spit and solidify, but it’s ok, just keep stirring with a wooden spoon over low heat until and the sugar has redissolved back into the water, and you have a thin liquid caramel. set aside to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
grease an 18cm round cake tin with butter, and line the bottom with a bit of baking paper. in a large bowl, cream the butter and the vanilla extract together using an electric mixer until it is pale and fluffy.
in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until well combined and add to the butter, along with the condensed milk and cooled caramel. sift together the flour and bicarb soda, and gently whisk them into the egg batter – careful not to over-mix the batter or the cake will be a bit tough. don’t worry if there are little globs of butter in the mixture, these are what cause the little “rivers” in the cake, they’re meant to be there.
pour the batter into the cake tin and leave to sit on the counter for about 5 minutes. bake in the oven for 50 minutes, or until the cake is springy to a gentle touch in the centre. leave to cool in the tin, and then run a knife around the edge before turning out onto a serving plate. wash down with a cup of Earl.