Cooking with… ovenhaven of epicurean escapism

I’m thrilled to welcome ovenhaven, AKA, Z., of the gorgeous blog, epicurean escapism, to notabilia! Z. “loves everything chocolate and chicken, though not necessarily on the same plate.” She is a full-time, home-based baker and creates one-of-a-kind confections for any occasion.

Not-to-miss posts on her blog: Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls, Eggless Tiramisu Charlotte, and Nutella Chocolate Bread Pudding.

Speaking of bread pudding, over to Z. …

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For all of the American/British/European bakes I’ve indulged in and shared on my blog over the years, I must admit I’m still very much a homebody at heart. If all it takes is for a young lady to tap her heels together three times to bring her home, then it must surely be the fragrant aroma of my mom’s homemade Malay kuih (traditional sweet delicacies) to pull me to my roots almost immediately.

When I was growing up, I would often watch as my mother combined any two members of the holy trinity of kuih ingredients—pandan, santan, and gula melaka (screwpine leaves, coconut cream, and palm sugar)—and knew that it was either a special occasion or a rainy evening. One of the many things I’ve inherited from my mother, aside from her belief that rainy days are perfect for tea-time indulgences, is her ‘recycling’ nature. My mother loves to recycle leftovers from one night, tweak the spices, and make them into a completely different dish the next. Hence, when you put two ladies with a sweet tooth and soon-to-expire bread in the same kitchen, bingka roti kukus pandan (steamed pandan bread pudding) is definitely on the list.

There are two types of bingka roti: the traditional bingka roti kukus (steamed) and its modern take, bingka roti bakar (baked). The common traditional variations for bingka roti are namely pandan (screwpine leaves) and jagung (sweetcorn); recent variations include durian and caramel. I grew up with the traditional rich green-hued version; bingka roti kukus pandan is a permanent fixture on the family dining table during the fasting month of Ramadhan. Typically served cold, the bingka roti is soft and easy on the palate with a soggy yet somewhat airy texture, boasting the perfect balance of the richness of the coconut cream and the fragrant pandan flavor.

Bingka Roti Kukus Pandan

8-10 slices of day-old bread
200ml coconut cream
200ml water
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pandan paste
2 pandan leaves, knotted

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, water, sugar, eggs, salt, and pandan paste.
2. Soak the bread slices in the coconut milk mixture, and set aside for at least 10mins. Transfer the bread slices into an 8-inch round pan, and pour any remaining liquid on top of the bread slices. Place two knotted pandan leaves on the surface.
3. Prepare your steamer and steam the bread pudding for 15-20mins. Leave to cool before serving.

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Thanks, Z. For South Asians (and South Asian Americans like myself), “roti” refers specifically to a traditional flatbread made with wholemeal flour; here in South East Asia, in Indonesia and Malaysia, especially, it seems the term more generally refers to all forms of bread, including western-style bread. Am I correct?

I welcome recipes from Singapore and beyond for Cooking with…. Priority is given to original recipes that have not yet appeared online. Please indicate if your recipe has already appeared online or has been submitted elsewhere. Please email all recipes, including high-quality .jpgs, to me with the subject line ‘Recipes.’

(Additional credits: Photographs by ovenhaven of epicurean escapism; geometric watercolor pattern via August Empress.)

5 responses

  1. Ah, gotta love desserts we’ve grown to love thanks to mums! I grew up watching my mum make pineapple-topped cheesecakes and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting so those are my two all time favourite desserts :)

    I’ve actually never had or even heard of this dessert despite living on the same island as you do, Zhul, but it sounds sooo good! :D

  2. Can’t believe I haven’t commented yet. But I’m so hungry right now that I can almost chew my computer screen, so that’s probably what led me back to desserts at notabilia. My favorite part of this dessert is that it is *bright* green. I love it! Mmmmmm!