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.
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.
(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.