Kuih Bingka Ubi is a baked tapioca cake. It is a Nyonya cake and are enjoyed all over South-east Asia. This type of cake is very similar in Singapore and Malaysia. Also known as cassava, tapioca is common in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and other areas where the climate is tropical or sub-tropical. Each country has its own take on it. Tapioca is also found in South America.
Ubi, in the Malay language is potato specifically sweet potato. This is because the potato like the ones in the west, is not indigenous in South-east Asia. And the potato is known a ubi kentang. The ubi used in this kuih is tapioca and is called ubi kaya. Kayu means wood. As a kid, we used to grow tapioca in our backyard. The tubers are usually longish compared to the sweet potato. It has a tough, dark rough outer layer and there is also another layer of thick leathery skin, which has a slight pink tinge . I suppose the whole thing looks like wood. It is tough and hard like wood. Hence it is called ubi kayu.
Tapioca contains cyanide, and are usually soaked in water before being used.
Another interesting thing is that when I moved to my own house, I decided to plant some tapioca in the backyard. The soil is really horrible and the size is about a postage stamp. I planted some and harvested is only after about 7 months. I had one HUGU tapioca. The diameter was 21 inches!!
After harvesting the tubers, we would plant the stems which are cut into short lengths, in the ground, at a slight angle jutting out of the soil. New shoots would appear, and the plants will flourish. It takes about 6 months to harvest.
As far as I know, originally, this cake has eggs in it. I used to make this when I was in Malaysia, but not too often, I must admit. This is because it is easily available. Now Nyonya Kuihs can be found not only in markets and cafes, but also high end restaurants and eateries. And it can be pricey.
This recipe is not very sweet, so feel to add extra sugar should you require it to be sweeter. I have omitted eggs, as my recipe in Malaysia does not contain eggs. Just as well, I am a bit into Vegan food nowadays.
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Links to Coconut: https://amzn.to/2YovFDB
Coconut milk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=coconut+milk&ref=nb_sb_noss_1
Pandan Leaves: https://amzn.to/2YovFDB
Baking tins, 15cm, loaf tin (1ib):https://amzn.to/3A6AfDgH
Here is the recipe:
Kuih Bingka Ubi, Cassava Cake
- 1 15 x 15 cm tin (or loaf tin)
- Banana leaves or grease proof paper
- 454 g Grated tapioca, fresh or frozen - thawed
- 150 g Fresh grated coconut or frozen - thawed
- 150 g Sugar
- 200 ml Thick coconut milk or from a can
- 15 g Cornflour
- 1 Pandan leaf, torn and tie into a knot
- i tbsp Brown sugar (optional)
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric (Optional)
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil
- Prepare a 6x6 inches or 15cm baking tin, lined with banana leaf or grease proof paper.
- Remove any hard or fibrous bits from the grated tapioca.
- Mix all the ingredients together, except the coconut oil
- Gently heat the batter until slightly thickened.
- Remove from stove and put it in the prepared tin.
- Dap some coconut oil on the surface of the batter.
- Bake at 220C gas oven or 200C fan oven for 35 to 45 minutes or when a skewer comes out clean.
- Alternatively steam for 40 minutes.
- Place the cake under the grill to get a char top. ( if necessary)
- Cool at least 4 hours or better still, overnight.
- Serve when it is cool