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Kanom Jok Foo

Kanom jok foo or kanom thuay foo (Puffed Cupcake) is literally a cup cake that has puffed. This recipe is one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made and I didn’t even have to bake it. There are no eggs and no dairy involved. There are no ovens used. I don’t have to sift anything. Literally mix all the ingredients and steam until it puffs up. So little finesse and yet it yields a light and spongey cake.

You can find variations of this recipe all throughout Asia. They vary ever so slightly. Some vary only by leavening agent. Don’t get me wrong when I say “only.” Versions of the steamed cakes made with yeast, require long resting periods and tastes slightly…yeasty. It changes the whole cake! Also, this version is made with pandan, but you may find other versions with other aromatics such as jasmine water.

This is really one of those no-brainer, throw it together kind of cake. I can see this becoming my quick-fix recipe for when I’m craving pandan cake and want it fast. There aren’t many notes because it’s not a fussy recipe. But here are a few notes.

• The leavening ingredients – You can use baking soda, baking powder or yeast for this recipe. I’ve tried all three and I prefer the baking POWDER. The baking soda had some reactions to the steam and had slightly bitter taste. The yeast was just too yeasty. Those yield cakes that are acquired taste.
• Steaming bowls/cups – should be small. Try to avoid using vessels or pans that block most of the holes in the steamer trays. The steam is essential in the puffing process. I tried tiny silicone cups in a round baking pan that blocked most of the holes and those smaller cakes took longer to cook and never really puffed up. Also I used a cupcake liner, it’s nice if you want to easily pop the cake out of the vessel. You can probably even bake them in small teacups and serve them directly from there. Wouldn’t that be cute?
• Flavors – as mentioned, you can use any flavors you like. The most common are the pandan and the jasmine water. You can even use coconut milk instead of the pandan water and just add a few drops more of pandan paste or pandan extract. That would add more depth.
• Steamer – make sure to start your steamer before you prepare your batter. You want the water to be hot and steamy. You don’t want to come up to temperature you want the temperature to already be there. It’s like preheating an oven before you bake.

Kanom Jok Foo – Puffed Cupcake

Cook time:15-17 minutes

Serves: 4

3/4 cup (90g) rice flour (red bag)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup (75g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup pandan juice/water
1 drop of pandan paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Set up steamer pot over high heat.
  • In large bowl, add flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk together. Add pandan water and whisk until you get a smooth batter. Then add one drop of pandan paste and whisk to incorporate.
  • Pour batter evenly into small cups or bowls lined with cupcake paper. And arrange onto steamer tray. Place steamer tray over boiling water and steam for 15-17 minutes until the cake has puffed.
  • Serve cooled and store in airtight containers.

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