Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sugee Cake

Sugee Cake is a cake commonly served during festive occasions by the Chinese, Malay and Eurasian communities alike. Good thing too, for this is one heck of a calorie-laden, artery-clogging, heart attack-inducing cake. It's such a sweet and rich treat, you could get diabetic just looking at it. It is therefore imperative that you eat this cake sparingly ... and share! ;)



When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' home. They lived right across the street from Chin Mee Chin Confectionary, a corner coffeeshop in Katong. This little piece of history has stood the test of time, with nary a change to its interior or menu. In fact, this is where many would agree, serves up the best kaya toast - a reputation formidably upheld since the 1950s.

My maternal grandparents, being Hainanese, were well-acquainted with the people at Chin Mee Chin, who were/are fellow Hainanese. In fact, they go way back to the time when my mother and her siblings were still youngsters.

My grandfather used to frequent the coffeeshop everyday, for years. He would sit and chat with his buddies till evening. Each time he returned, he would bring back bags of tasty cake ends or leftover pastries for us children to eat. Sugee Cake never failed to be included because it was, and still is, one of the signature cakes. You could say I grew up eating the best. Lucky me, I know.

Sadly, after my grandparents moved, they kept in touch less and less. Years later, my grandfather passed on, as did all his contemporaries, and it spelt the end of an era. But my grandmother is still alive, and for sure, she would get a superstar reception if she went back for a cuppa. The second generation at Chin Mee Chin still recognise my mom and her siblings, so all is not lost, I guess.


Crumbly and nutty!

Anyway, I wanted to try making Sugee Cake for Chinese New Year. I know it'll never be as good as the one I grew up eating, but I had to try it at least once. Some of the recipes I saw online were plain scary: FIFTEEN yolks! I almost fell off my chair. But then, that's why the best Sugee Cakes are so tender, because of the high proportion of yolks to whites.

So then I thought, why not try asking people I know? Someone might have a tried and tested recipe I could use. The first person I asked was Zurin, and not surprisingly, she had one on hand. In fact, it was her late aunt's recipe, one which her aunt had used to bake for sale. How generous is that?! I have the most wonderful blog friends. Ever.

*wipes tear*

If you want to read about the history behind this recipe, please hop over to Cherry on a Cake. Thank you so much, Zurin! It was a lovely, nutty, aromatic cake indeed.

Recipe
(as adapted from Cherry on a Cake)

- 250 gm butter, softened
- 250 castor sugar
- 125 self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 125 gm semolina flour
- 50 gm cashews, ground
- 1/3 cup evaporated milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp buttercream essence
- 5 eggs plus 1 yolk, the whole eggs separated

1. Preheat oven to 150 C,

2. Stir semolina flour, self-raising flour, baking powder and nuts together in a bowl and leave aside.

3. Separate all the eggs. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Add cold milk, vanilla extract and buttercream essence and mix well.

4. In another bowl beat egg whites till stiff. Fold in flour mixture into creamed mixture. Then fold in beaten egg whites gently until well mixed.

5. Bake 150 C for 50-60 mins until skewer comes out clean.

Notes from The Little Teochew
~ I used a rectangular 6x9x3 inch pan.

~ I reduced sugar from 250 gm to 220 gm.

~ I did not beat the eggs separately and it still turned out ok.

~I used ground almonds instead of ground cashews.

~If you don't have buttercream essence use brandy instead or rose essence.

~ I increased the vanilla extract from 1 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

~ I have seen recipes where a pinch of cinnamon is added. Just a thought.

~ Tent the cake batter with foil because the high sugar content makes the cake brown too quickly.

~ For topping I used almond slivers. Gently sprinkle them over the cake batter before putting it in the oven.


67 comments:

  1. OH Thank YOU JU!!!! it was exceedingly fun!!! i enjoyed it so much and thanks to you I get a post without having to wash dishes! Im honoured to have u bake it! xoxo zu

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  2. LOL!!! You're hilarious, Zu! The pleasure is all mine. :)

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  3. The cake looks awesome girls, great job and great recipe!

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  4. how do u stay so slim with all the goodies coming out from ur oven haha!

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  5. Wow! This cake is BEAUTIFUL! Gorgeous! Wow. I love that close-up shot of the edge of the cake. I may have to try this, and I'll be sure to write "The Little Teochew, as adapted from Cherry on a Cake." hehehe

    Thanks for sharing your background story of this cake.

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  6. This nutty cake is sheer perfection! That looks just like German Sugar Cake!

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  7. I'm a big fan of Zurin's blog too! Well, maybe if I need a recipe next time I'll check with her too! :)
    You were so lucky to grow up spending lots of time with your grandparents. Your grandfather was so right in teaching you what good food tastes like!
    Beautiful cake - can feel cholesterol shooting up now!

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  8. You girls make me wipe tears..I must be getting really old:) It's just so nice to this..The cake looks wonderful! I like the history behind the coffee shop,,

    It's a beautiful cake and a beautiful friendship.

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  9. This cake looks lovely, ok, I will check out recipe in Zurin's house.

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  10. I wanna ask the same question as what 3 hungry tummies just did!

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  11. Wonderful cake...I heard this Sugee cake is well guarded by the Eurasians and is not an easy cake to do as one other mixture (butter and semolina) has to be left overnight for the flavour to come out. Shall try this since I don need an extra nite to taste the cake : O

    Great pic..i love to eat the edge of the cake....keke

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  12. had to come over and comment on this cake --- a true beaute!!!! from the pictures i can see how lovely fluffy and delicate this cake is. oooh. u tease!

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  13. Adoro le ricette che raccontano una storia; questa torta poi è super golosa.
    Quand'è che ci troviamo per un te?
    un abbraccio Daniela.

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  14. This is yet ANOTHER thing I've never heard of until you wrote about it. I love that!! I think I should get extra credit in baking school for reading your blog, I am not kidding. Anyway, you can just see the yummy moistness almost oozing out in the closeup. Will definitely go check out Cherry on a Cake!

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  15. This cake looks lovely... I was hoping that you could take a picture of the cross section of the cake to show us the texture.. Is there a small teeny part of the cake still lying around for a photo session? ~ Moon^^

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  16. I so loved both of your posts about this lovely cake...both Ju and Zu!
    I learn so much every time I visit you Ju...
    It is a highlight of my morning each and every day!
    L~xo

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  17. wow complimenti è perfetta!chissà che buona!

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  18. Looks like we are putting on weight even before Chinese New Year is here! What a lovely cake!

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  19. I also loved sugee cake. Hope can squeeze some time to make this.

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  20. if i come and visit during cny, can i get to try your bakes? :D Another reason to visit other than the ang bao. HAHAHA

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  21. your cakes always look so beautiful! we would could taste this..

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  22. Your cake looks always so tasty, it's incredible
    I like having a walk on the blog of Zurin, like yours, it's so sunny and warm

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  23. Ju this cake looks so moist and decadent -- I can only imagine what it must smell like while baking. I loved the story that went along with it, beautiful post :)

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  24. First time I have seen this cake.. never tried .. but already love the look.. thanks Ju for sharing a big piece with me ;)

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  25. I found your blog over at Memoria's site. This cake sounds and looks amazing. I think a little butter and egg yolks are exactly what we need some time. :) Anything this rich has to taste fabulous!

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  26. It is such a lovely story and a love cake. I have bookmarked and will give credit once I make it soon.... YUM!

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  27. Thanks you Zurin and Ju for sharing this recipe. I've been look for a recipe that less butter and egg yolk and this recipe is perfect. I am going to bake this once I am back from Malaysia. By the way, beautiful pictures. I am craving for a slice :)

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  28. That looks wonderful! I have to confess that I've never tried Sugee cake but thanks to you and Zurin I now can! Thankyou! :D

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  29. Ah...aunts, grandparents...life, death...tears...friendships...and an heirloom cake recipe. Doesn't get much better!

    Thanks, Ladies.

    Diane

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  30. Look sugee cake but haven't had it for a long time. They are very rich but great taste!!

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  31. Awww, Ju ~ your story/memories of the cake, the coffee shop, your grandparents, and your correspondence with Zurin are so touching.

    You two are the BEST ~ it's nice to see the happy exchanges and to share the warmth of your friendship. ((hugs))

    That cake looks exceptional ~ and your photos are perfect.

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  32. I really liked this post Ju =) You sure do write well.

    And the cake looks so beautiful! I just bought a can of Ghee a couple of days ago, thinking I might make some traditional Sugee cookies... maybe I should make cake instead...

    (Oh oops I just checked Zurin's recipe and it doesn't seem to require ghee! Ok back to cookies...)

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  33. My first visit! I certainly enjoyed the collaboration, the history, and the recipe!

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  34. How is this different from sugee cookies that melt in the mouth? Those sweet cookies are sinful but my favorite during CNY. I never tried sugee cake before :O

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  35. Chinese New Year is ALL about sugee overload! Next! sugee cookies!

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  36. Looks damned good. Just too good. I supposed the taste is as good as the picture? ;)

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  37. Hi Ju - looks like such a wonderful cake!!

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  38. This cake is very beautiful and looks so delicious.
    See soon.

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  39. This cake is a wonderful, and wonderfully-delicious tribute to Zurin's aunt. And one which seems to have brought together many foodies.

    I'd have no qualms risking diabetes for just a taste.

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  40. 15 yolks! Wow! That does sound like a bit much!

    Your cake is so pretty and I just love the red and white checked towels underneath. :D Your photos are fantastic!

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  41. Looks so pretty! I've never had this before and the only time I've heard of it was when I was searching for my wedding cake.

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  42. WOnderful story... the cake tastes better with so much history behind it! I hope you captured your memories in the taste of the cake!

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  43. Haha...I like your playful words, "It's such a sweet and rich treat, you could get diabetic." For celebrating Chinese New Year, we have a good reason to have all sorts of sweet foods.
    Your Sugee Cake is very beautiful!

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  44. I love the almonds on the top. Looks so good!

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  45. I've had sugee cake but never have tried making it! Thanks for sharing!! You've inspired to do so! The almond flakes on top makes it look so pretty!!

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  46. alamak ju! i keep adding things to my must-bake list..
    you're making my list almost impossible to complete.
    hahaha! just realised my comment on your other post didnt get through..
    congrats on the article dear. you deserved it!
    omg ive cyber friends with a celebrity! ;)

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  47. Hi what do you mean by tent the cake?

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  48. Rene: place a sheet of foil LOOSELY over the top while it bakes, like a tent.

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  49. Hihi ... How long can this cake be kept in an airtight container?
    Just wondering how early can i bake it for CNY
    Thanks =)

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  50. Hi Ju, this recipe was fantastic! My friend who loves Sugee cake said he loves the flavour of semolina that comes through with this recipe!

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  51. I just tried this recipe! Because I use a really small oven I tented the cake like you suggested both top and bottom of the cake pan (tried doing sugee cake before, different recipe though) However, it took longer to bake, an extra 30 minutes. But who cares! Success! No burning! Also I didn't have brandy or rose essence so I used 1/2 tsp of almond essense. Everything else was according to your method! thank u!

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  52. Hi, do we use salted or unsalted butter?

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  53. Hi Ju,

    Tried baking this. Looks good. I used a square pan. The center of the cake rose more than the sides. Do you have any tips on making the cake rise more evenly?

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    Replies
    1. 1. Use a bigger pan.
      2. Try reducing the temperature slightly by 5-10°C when the cake has risen and baked for at least 2/3 of the baking time. But that means you have to extend the baking time too, until the cake is fully baked.

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    2. Thanks for the tips!
      Would certainly try that next time!

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  54. Hi Ju,

    Would it be okay to replace evaporated milk with plain full cream or even low fat milk?

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  55. Hi there!
    Your cake looks absolutely delicious!
    I recently tried baking my own sugee cake last week using a different recipe that had waaaaay more eggs (think 7-8, made me worry I'd have a heart attack after eating it).
    I shall give yours a try, though. Sounds healthier!

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  56. Hi Ju! Any ideas on how to replace the semolina flour with plain semolina (as thats the only thing I have on hand)?

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  57. Hi Ju! Any ideas on how to replace the semolina flour with plain semolina (as thats the only thing I have on hand)?

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  58. Hi, just curious, what is buttercream essence? Doesn't seem to show up when I google it.

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