Corner Café

February 9, 2009

Phong Piah / Ipoh Sugar Puffs

Filed under: Dim Sum — SeaDragon @ 12:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

This sugar puff is still warm, as you can just see the filling is still gooey.

This sugar puff is at room temperature.

For the long time followers of my old blog, you would probably remember I had been trying to perfect the recipe for these well-loved sugar puffs from Ipoh and Penang in Malaysia.
During the interval after my last attempt, I discovered that Taiwanese have a similar sugar puffs called Sun Puffs (Tai Yang Bing 太陽餅). I checked the fillings they used and they were very similar to our Malaysian sugar puffs except they didn’t add the aromatic (heong 香) ingredients, namely fried shallot flakes and sesame seeds. So I used their recipes as a reference point, adjusted and incorporated the ingredients to what I have done previously. Well, I must say I think this is the closest I have come to in terms of the taste for the filling. The flaky pastry part is now perfect, crispy and short-textured (as in very ‘soh’ in Hokkien). However, this filling now reminded me strongly of the Cantonese Lou Poh Paeng even though no candied winter melon was used.
Not having tasted the real thing for a few years, my memory is now quite vague as to whether Beh Teh Soh or Heong Paeng are supposed to be as close to the texture as Lou Poh Paeng or not. Although this newest version of my sugar puffs tasted delicious, I would prefer the filling to be just that slightly softer at room temperature. May need to adjust and reduce the amount of cake flour used in the filling slightly, or increase the amount of maltose a little bit. I think I should also have used pure icing sugar instead of icing sugar mixture since icing sugar mixture contains cornflour which added the extra starchiness to the filling. But these are just minor adjustments for next time as this version still tastes yummy.
Incidentally, I still don’t quite grasp the exact differences between Beh Teh Soh, Heong Paeng and Phong Piah. Whenever relatives or friends brought some of these pastry snacks over, we always called them Phong Piah, regardless of the different varieties. So I checked the Penang’s Ghee Hiang website. According to them, Phong Piah is the Hokkien version of Lou Poh Paeng, hmmm, I never knew that before. So what I have made here should be Phong Piah rather than either Beh Teh Soh or Heong Paeng. Beh Teh Soh or Heong Paeng both have darker filling, probably with the addition of brown sugar or gula melaka. As I haven’t added any brown sugar or gula melaka, the filling was whitish, maybe that’s why it reminded me of Lou Poh Paeng. Next time, I would probably substitute part of the icing sugar for brown sugar or gula melaka to get that darker filling for Beh Teh Soh or Heong Paeng.

Makes 20 puffs

Chinese Flaky Pastry:
Water Dough:
120g bread flour
120g cake flour
50g icing sugar mixture
90g butter
70ml water, adjust as necessary

Lard Dough:
120g cake flour
60g lard

225g icing sugar mixture
60g maltose *
90g cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
20g white sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons fried shallot flakes
60ml shallot oil
15ml water, adjust as necessary

extra white sesame seeds, for topping (optional)

* When getting maltose out of the container, it is easiest to use wet fingers to dig/pull out the required amount, this way the maltose doesn’t stick to your fingers.
1. Put icing sugar in a mixing bowl and place the maltose on top of the sugar (pic #1). Scatter some icing sugar on the maltose so it doesn’t stick to your fingers and dig a hole in the maltose to make a figure ‘0’, or like a donut shape (pic #2). Pull the maltose to enlarge the hole, just like making noodles by pulling the dough. Twist the maltose so it now becomes a figure ‘8’ (pic #3). Fold the ‘8’ to become ‘0’ again (pic #4). Pull the ‘0’ to enlarge and twist into ‘8’ again (pic #5). Continue and repeat the pulling, twisting and folding of the maltose until the maltose becomes very thin threads (pic #6).


2. Mix in the rest of the filling ingredients to form a dough.


3. Divide into 20 equal portions. Cover and set aside.


Chinese Flaky Pastry:
1. For the Water Dough: Put both types of flour and sugar in a mixing bowl, rub in butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly add just enough water to form a soft but non-sticky dough. Knead until smooth, form into a ball, wrap in cling film and put into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before using.
2. For the Lard Dough: Rub lard into the flour and then knead into a soft dough. If it is too soft, chill in the refrigerator to harden a bit. If it is too hard, knead it a bit more until you get soft dough about the same pliability as the water dough. It is important that the malleability of the lard dough should be about the same as the water dough when making the Chinese flaky pastry.
3. Divide the water dough and the lard dough respectively into 20 equal portions each and round them all into small balls.
4. Follow the preparation of the Hidden-Layering Flaky Pastry as shown in Huaiyang Flaky Pastry up to step 17.
5. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line baking sheets with baking paper.
6. With the heel of your palm, gently press the filled dough down to flatten it.
7. Arrange the pastry apart on the lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with a little extra white sesame seeds on top of each puff dough if desired, pressing the seeds lightly to stick to the dough.


8. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the sugar puffs are brown in colour.

Sugar puffs without sesame seed topping.

Sugar puffs with sesame seed topping.

Taste: Crispy, flaky pastry with a aromatic sweet maltose filling
Consume: Best within a week
Storage: Store in airtight container at room temperature
Recipe References:


  1. sd

    thanks for sharing this recipe. they look so true to type

    Comment by lily ng — February 9, 2009 @ 3:30 am | Reply

  2. sd,
    mmmm….this looks delicious. don’t know when i’ll be able to make this.

    Comment by delia — February 11, 2009 @ 11:38 am | Reply

  3. Hi SeaDragon,

    I’m back to check out your Bei Teh Soh. Thank you very much for posting the recipe. I tried this latest version last week and the bei the soh turned out very good… well except most of the filling leaked out of the dough and ended up bei teh soh candy on the baking tray 🙂 The pastry was very flaky and ‘soh’, the flavor of the filling tasted almost the same as the ones I had in M’sia 2 yrs ago.

    I followed your tips to use only icing sugar (not the icing sugar mixture). Actually for the filling, I used half amount of icing sugar and half amount of brown sugar to make the filling more brownish. Also, since it’s difficult to measure 60g of maltose, I just scooped about 4-6 tbsp out of maltose container… I mixed the filling into a dough but the dough keep flattening down and very oily. I had to lightly coated the filling dough with some cake flour (so it would hold a ball shape) right b4 wrapping in the pastry. Do you think my maltose portion is too much and thus the filling dough keep flattening down and even leaking out while baking???… Also, any tips to wrap the pastry? Yours look so PERFECT! I tried your tau sar piah recipe too yesterday but they all didn’t look round after baked… tasted very good tough, I even added in some ‘hae bee hiam’, reminded me of sambal hae bee tanbun piah… Anyway, I sure will try bei teh soh again as it’s one of my favorite. Really thank you for posting the recipe.


    Comment by reginachennault — February 25, 2009 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

    • Haha, glad to hear you liked it. I also got a couple of puffs leaking as can be seen in the photos. Just need to make sure the seal is tight by pinching the sealed end really well.

      Yes, 4 to 6 tbsp maltose seems a bit too much, 60g is about 2-3 tbsp roughly. However the filling dough balls do not need to be round, as long as they are not too sticky and can be handled without too much trouble.

      As to the wrapping bit, practice is the key, the more you do it, the better they will become. Hope this helps.

      Comment by SeaDragon — February 26, 2009 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  4. Hi Seadragon
    Thanks for posting this recipe. I was rather surprised that the fillings is made with cake flour as I thought it was gao fen (cooked glutinuous flour). Do you think the fillings will be more chewy and gooey if gao fen is used?

    Comment by Ginny — April 9, 2009 @ 1:38 am | Reply

    • I’ve tried with gao fen before, the recipes are in my old blog in the links I gave above. Yes with gao fen the filling is more chewy.

      Comment by SeaDragon — April 10, 2009 @ 7:27 pm | Reply

  5. HI,
    I’ve been hunting down a recipe for this! Thanks for posting it. I have a question though, would you happen to know where I can buy maltose syrup in Singapore? Or any substitute for it? Thanks.

    Comment by Ross — September 10, 2010 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

    • It should be quite a common ingredient, I think it should be easier to find using its Chinese name 麥芽糖. Maybe ask Gina at her forum if she stocks it in her shop.

      Comment by SeaDragon — September 11, 2010 @ 7:45 am | Reply

  6. Sorry may i know what is the different with icing sugar and icing sugar mixture?Thanks!

    Comment by Lie Lie Chong — October 25, 2012 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

    • Pure icing sugar is just that, pure icing sugar with no other additives. Icing sugar mixture is icing sugar mixed with a little cornflour to prevent the icing sugar from clumping up, this is the one called confectioners’ sugar in the USA. Generally you can substitute one for the other with no problems.

      Comment by SeaDragon — October 28, 2012 @ 10:41 am | Reply

      • Thanks for reply!I tried it last night ,but all the fillings came out after a few minutes in the oven! Even though I thought I sealed them well. What is the problem here?

        Comment by Lie Lie Chong — October 29, 2012 @ 8:59 am | Reply

        • That depends on where the leaks were. If the leaks were from the sealed ends, then you did not seal them properly. You might have thought the seal was tight but if there was oil in the seal end, they would not seal tight. If the leaks were from other places, then it could be the baking temperature, try increasing the oven temperature and bake for a shorter time next time, that should help a little bit.

          Comment by SeaDragon — October 29, 2012 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

  7. […] Before and after. Source: Corner Cafe – Phong Piah recipe […]

    Pingback by Horse hooves and puffs. – guavarilla — June 21, 2016 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

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