Tearing the Ma Lai Koh to show the spongy and fluffy texture inside.
After my failed Traditional Ma Lai Koh attempt, mumsy very generously shared her mum’s easy recipe with me – thanks, mumsy. Finally I had some time to try it out.
After perusing through the recipe, I made slight adjustment by adding some liquid to the recipe as I need to dissolve the baking powder and soda towards the end. Why? Because the batter needs to rest for an hour before steaming (haven’t figured out the reason for the rest, anyone knows? Maybe to relax the gluten in the flour?), I felt that by adding the baking powder and soda before the rest, their effectiveness will be diminished by the end of the hour’s resting period. This way by adding the raising agents at the end, they are able to produce maximum rise to the cake. I also omitted the olive kernels since I couldn’t find them and instead added a little treacle to just slightly deepen the colour of the cake and to add that little extra oomph… Finally, I reduced the quantity to fit my only steaming pan with holes which is just 18cm (7”).
The cake is indeed very, very good – soft, beautifully spongy and fluffy. A wonderful and quick recipe for those who do not want to go to the trouble of using yeast to make the traditional ma lai koh.
Makes one 18cm cake
150g (1 cup) plain flour
40g (4 tablespoons) custard powder
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
40ml (2 tablespoons) evaporated milk
20ml (1 tablespoon) treacle (molasses), or honey
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
100ml canola oil
Tip: To approximately measure 1/3 teaspoon, the best way is to first measure 1/4 teaspoon, then add another 1/8 teaspoon (ie. half of 1/4 teaspoon) to it.
1. Line the base of a deep 18cm steaming pan with holes (or 20cm bamboo steamer) with a double layer of muslin. Grease and line the sides with baking paper. Sift plain flour and custard powder twice and set aside.
2. Whisk eggs for 1 minute, then gradually add sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, and the mixture leaves a trail of ribbon when you lift the beater. Total beating time can be 6 to 10 minutes depending on the power of your beater.
3. Sift the flour mixture in a few batches onto the egg mixture and fold in after sifting in each batch. Mix in vanilla. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for 1 hour.
4. After the batter has rested for 1 hour, start boiling water in a steamer. Stir treacle into evaporated milk and mix well. Sift baking powder and soda then add to the milk mixture, mix evenly making sure there are no lumps of the raising agents. Pour the mixture into the batter with the oil. Fold in properly until evenly mixed.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan and steam over high heat for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cooked. Remember to replenish steamer with hot water whenever it starts to dry up.
6. Serve hot or warm with a cup of tea.
Taste: Soft, fluffy and spongy
Consume: Best served hot or warm
Storage: Can be stored in airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days, re-heat before serving
Recipe Reference: mumsy’s mum’s ‘Mah Lai Koh’ recipe