This Honeycomb Cake (Banh Bo Nuong) recipe makes a delicious, fragrant cake infused with Pandan flavor and coconut milk. With its fresh green color, fun chewy texture and unique furrows, this sweet treat is at the top of everyone’s snack cake list. If you’re familiar with this cake, you may know that it can be a bit challenging. The mark of success is achieving the vertical striations, which when cut across, looks like a bee’s honeycomb and hence the name: Honeycomb Cake. The ingredients and directions are very specific, so please follow the Honeycomb Cake (Banh Bo Nuong) recipe exactly and avoid substitutions unless noted. Good Luck!
Be sure to use single-acting baking powder instead of double-acting baking powder. Single-acting works when wet. Double-acting works with moisture and heat. Most of the baking powders in the grocery stores (ex: Rumford, Royal, Calumet, etc.) are double-acting and will not work with this recipe. The cake rises nicely in the oven, but once removed from the oven, it falls flat (very sad!). For single-acting baking powder, I familiar with two brands: Alsa baking powder and Dr. Oetker. The Alsa brand, sold mainly at Vietnamese grocery stores, is what most people use. Alsa works just fine for this recipe. If using Alsa baking powder, use one entire envelope. I tried Dr. Oetker’s because it’s sold at a store near me. Unfortunately, it did not yield the beautiful honeycombs. Because finding single-acting baking powder can be a frustrating task, I show you how to make your own single-acting baking powder with ingredients readily available in every grocery store: baking soda and cream of tartar.
Be prepared to make this cake a few times before you are successful. Buy extra eggs and tapioca starch. The size of the eggs is important. The recipe calls for extra-large or jumbo eggs.
For richer flavor, replace the water with coconut milk. This cake is mildly sweet. Feel free to adjust the sugar to your taste.
Make sure your baking soda is not expired. We all have a container in our cupboard and have no idea how long it’s been in there. Buy a fresh box for this recipe.
After adding the single-acting baking powder, work quickly to get the cake into the oven as the baking powder is already activated.
Use a 9 inch round springform pan or tube / bundt cake pan. You can go a bit smaller if you want a thicker cake but don’t use anything larger than a 10 inch pan or the cake will be rather flat.
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Place the springform pan in the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 F (163 C).
In a small saucepan over Low heat, add the coconut milk, water and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let the coconut syrup cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together the tapioca starch and rice flour.
In a small bowl, combine the cream of tartar and baking soda to make the single-acting baking powder.
In a large bowl, add the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Pierce the eggs yolks with a knife. Gently whisk everything together for about 1 minute. Avoid whipping or beating the eggs as this introduces air in the egg mixture.
Add the coconut syrup to the egg mixture and whisk together gently. Add half of the sifted flour mixture and mix together until mostly combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and continue whisking gently. The batter is lumpy at first but continue whisking slowly, approximately 2-3 minutes, to dissolve the lumps. Add the Pandan paste and blend well. (There should be some small lumps in the batter.)
Add the single-acting baking powder and whisk until combined, approximately 1 minute. (Note the batter becomes foamy as it reacts with the baking powder.)
Remove the hot baking pan from the oven and spray with a generous amount of non-stick cooking spray. Strain the batter into the baking pan. Use a whisk to break-down any remaining flour lumps in the strainer.
Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.
Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.
Cover any remaining Honeycomb Cake and store at room temperature for 1-2 days. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Warm the cake in the microwave to enjoy again.
Yields: 8 servings
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