Bánh bò is a Vietnamese sweet sponge cake prepared using rice flour, water, sugar and yeast. The dish is similar to a honeycomb in appearance on the inside because of the presence of several small air bubbles. Coconut milk is also added to the batter, providing the dish with a slight taste and scent of coconut.
Bánh bò has many different variations, such as Bánh bò nướng, Bánh bò hấp, Bánh bò sữa and more. This Vietnamese delicacy is usually consumed as a dessert, though it can also be eaten as an accompaniment to a meal.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Bánh bò is known to be of Southern Chinese origin. However, the Chinese version, also known as bái táng gāo, does not include coconut milk.
In the Vietnamese language, bánh refers to “cake”, and bò can either mean “cow” or “to crawl”. Some people believe that the dish is named for its similarity to a cow’s udder, suggesting that the term was reduced from bánh vú bò. However, it is also believed that bò refers to the way the cake “crawls” up to the rim of the container after it’s completely steamed.
Other names for this dish include steamed rice cakes, cow cakes and steamed honeycomb cakes.
For the yeast
- Water - 1/2 cup
- Active dry yeast - 2 tsp
- Sugar - 1 tsp
For the batter
- Rice flour - 3 3/4 cups
- Tapioca starch - 1/3 cup
- Water - 3 cups
- Sugar - 1 1/2 cups
- Packet vanilla sugar - 0.28 oz.
- Coconut milk - 14 oz.
- Food colouring: green, pink and yellow
- Vegetable oil - 1/4 cup
Activating the yeast
- Begin by heating 1/2 cup of water to about 100 F. Add the active dry yeast and sugar and mix all the ingredients together. Allow the prepared mixture to rest for approximately 10 minutes, or until it becomes frothy.
Making the batter
- Take a large bowl and add the rice flour, tapioca starch and 2 cups of water to it. Mix everything together until the combination is smooth and has no lumps.
- Now, pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and mix properly. Place a plastic wrap on top of the bowl to cover the batter. Allow it to rest for about 2 hours.
- Take a large measuring cup. Add sugar, vanilla sugar, coconut milk and the remaining 1 cup of water. Combine all the ingredients together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Place the mixture in a microwave on high for 1 minute.
- Once done, allow the mixture to cool until the temperature is about 100 F.
- It’s time to pour the coconut milk mixture into the batter and whisk all the ingredients together. Strain the batter. Transfer the prepared batter into 4 different cups or bowls. You can also add any food colouring of your preference to all the batches. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes.
Steaming the cakes
- Begin by taking a steamer and filling the basin three-quarters with water. Cover it and bring the water to a quick boil over a high flame.
- Now take the muffin cups and brush each one of them lightly with vegetable oil. Place the vacant mini-muffin pan into the steamer tray and steam for about 1 minute.
- Mix the batter a little more and then transfer it into the muffin cups. Make sure to fill each cup nearly to the top. Remember to leave some space for the cake to expand and rise.
- Steam for 3 minutes, covered. Take the steamer lid off and wipe away the moisture with a kitchen towel. Place the lid back and allow the cakes to steam for 3 more minutes.
- Take the mini-muffin pan out of the steamer. Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes before taking them out of the pan.
- Before serving, you can add some coconut sauce on top and garnish with roasted sesame seeds. Voila!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 80Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g