I'd stand by my mom watching him make these pancakes skillfully. And, his Indonesian helper was always by his side helping him out. Instead of the original-flavored ones, we'd sometimes buy the green pandan-flavored ones. But, the filling was always a mixture of crushed roasted peanuts and castor sugar. And, we love both!
Actually, I never knew that apam balik is also called ban jian kuih and min jiang kuih until I left home. I wonder why ... Could it be due to the environment that I grew up in? Not having many Hokkien-speaking friends? A cultural exchange with the Malays? Hmm ..., all these are possible. My first true contact with Hokkien speakers came during my freshman year in college. And unsurprisingly, they were all from the southern state of Johor. LOL, I was having an intensive Hokkien course for one year!
Anyhow, back to apam balik. I love it so much that I'd to have it once a week. While I was living in the dorm during my freshman year at the local college, I'd get these pancakes from Malay stalls at the nearby pasar malam, or night-time wet market, each Friday. I still remember that they sold some with chocolate rice sprinkled in the filling ... So, you'd end up with chocolate apam balik! All these have made me cherish the multicultural environment of Malaysia even more.
As you can see, I crave for apam balik wherever I go. I'm happy that I can actually make them from scratch even though I'm one Pacific Ocean away from home. And, I think I'll keep making these pancakes on my own even after I've returned home for good soon. The only thing was that the pancakes yielded by the recipe below was not as chewy as commercial ones. Nonetheless, they were good enough to satisfy my cravings.
Apam Balik, Chin Loong Pau or Ban Jian Kuih/ Min Jiang Kuih 麵煎粿 (adapted from Café of the East)
200ml warm water, at 43C/110F
1 tsp active dry yeast
120g bread flour
30g tapioca starch
*I might try 100g bread flour with 50g tapioca starch next time
1/4 tsp salt
35g castor sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
60ml cooking oil
1/2 tsp alkaline water
*I substituted it with a mixture of 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp water
Extra warm water if necessary
For the filling:
Finely crushed roasted peanuts
Roasted white sesame seeds (optional)
Canned cream-style corn (this is more of Malay style, but optional)
Salted butter, cut into small cubes
- Dissolve together (A) and let sit aside till it gets frothy; combine (C) together in a mixing bowl in the meantime
- Mix in the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients until blended and lump-free, cover the mixing bowl with a cling wrap and let proof till bubbly and doubled in size
*Alternatively, just mix (A) and (B) together straight away if you're using instant yeast
**I did mine the night before and let it proof in the refrigerator for about nine hours. The next morning, I took the mixture out of the refrigerator and let it warm up slightly for about 10 minutes -- it became bubbly and doubled again once it got warmed up.
- Mix in (C) to the batter until blended. If batter is not of pouring consistency, add in a bit more warm water -- the quantity needed here depends on how the situation turns out
Let the batter rest for 5~10 minutes with the mixing bowl covered with a sheet of plastic film. Before cooking, mix in the alkaline water
- Heat a flat nonstick pan over medium-high heat. (*I used a 23cm frying pan.) Once it's hot, lightly grease the surface of the pan with some oil and lower to medium-low heat.
- Pour in enough batter to make pancakes that are of your desired thickness, then cover the pan with its lid and cook till the surface of the batter becomes bubbly and just set
*Because my 23cm pan is rather large, I poured all the batter into the pan; hence, a larger pancake
- Sprinkle the ingredients for filling on one half of the pancake, then lift and fold the other side over. Dish out the filled pancakes onto a serving platter
- Repeat steps #4, #5 and #6 with the remaining batter till it's used up
*I let mine cool thoroughly upon slicing and serving