July 14, 2010

Where East Meets West: Coconut-Pandan and Rum-Raisin Mochi Cakes


I abandoned my little journal for more than a week! (It ain’t the first time you know.) How I wish I have the power to process information every evening after work. I just don’t. Taking public transportation in Kuala Lumpur is enough to tire me out. (Those reckless bus drivers and conductors are nuts!) Not to mention about those overly aggressive, cunning "comrades" I have to deal with for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. What’s worse, I’ve been unusually prone to making mistakes since last week. Coming home, I often pick up unfinished business where they were once left. Jaded, man!

Well, sorry about that … I just feel like venting out. Hope you don’t mind; otherwise, just ignore the sleepy and crabby Pei-Lin. What I do want to share with you though is …


I have always loved mochi. I love giving my mouth a delicious workout by chewing on mochi. (A good way to digress, too. I’m a dreamer.)

Green tea daifuku, which is a type of mochi, filled with home-made azuki bean paste (dated March 2009). Ahem, pardon me for the unappetizing shot ... It was me who bit the daifuku. Haha!

If you’ve read this or known me long enough through my words, you know my blog wasn’t named after my love for mochi.

Some say mochi is Japanese. Some say Chinese. Some say Korean. Whomever it may belong to, I, as a person who shuns ambiguity, have tucked away mochi in the “East Asian Loop” located at the back of my brain. I reckoned mochi was born in the Far East, to be fair and square to everyone. That’s also why as a third-generation Malaysian-Chinese, I named my blog after dodol, a treat from Malaysia and its neighboring countries; as well as mochi, a treat from China and its neighboring countries. They’re an edible representation of who I am:

Malaysian + Chinese + foodie + sweet tooth = Pei-Lin (Eat me!)

Anyway, one of my culinary misadventures had to do with mochi. No, no. It should be mochi bread.

When I was a college student, I once lived a laid-back and carefree life in rural America. I had all the time I wanted to “blog hop.” (Not now. Not anymore!) I hopped from one blog to another like how a happy bunny would. All of a sudden, I bumped into mochi bread. “Interesting!” I thought to myself.

I searched high and low on the Internet. Unfortunately, there wasn’t isn’t any from-scratch recipe for the famous chewy Korean mochi bread, which was once a rage among Asian food bloggers. Only premix will save the day.

Stranded in the middle of nowhere, I tried to save myself from driveling too much before the computer screen. The daredevil in me decided to construct these chewy morsels from scratch. I googled, I read up on others’ experiments, I relied on others’ recipes, in a hope that my curiosity would be fed with delectably chewy results. However, after a few attempts:
I think I sort of failed. Though haven't tasted the real deal, the interior should look kind of hollow with some holes instead of dense like mine based on what I've seen in others. Need to try them again ...


Updates: After four attempts, I gave up on the "holy grail" in searching for the baked-from-scratch recipes for these chewy little morsels ...

That was what I recorded in my culinary journal on Flickr – I didn’t have a blog back then. My heart ached. My waistline expanded. I surrendered!

One of my many culinary fiascoes: pandan "mochi bread" (dated April 2009)

(OK, I wasn’t the only one who polished off the flops! My family friends’ grandkids helped me out with that! It was a delicious task. They even commented that my kitchen fiasco tasted awesome! Haha! Mara, Jonathan, Aaron and Megan, thank you! I miss you four little stars so much!)

That horrid episode didn’t dishearten me from admiring mochi. I heart its stickiness and chewiness. I love squishing it playfully. So soft. What an adorable creature. I love how not cloyingly sweet most mochi-ish desserts are, including the mochi cake.

Now, that IS interesting! Mochi cake!? How oxymoronic can that be?

I first came across mochi cake on my buttery fingers, a blog written by Wendy, who’s a talented 17-year-old Hong Kong baker. Her mochi cakes were inspired by Y, another wonderful baker blogging from the Down Under. After sucking up all the adjectives and verbal adjectives, I was cajoled convinced. I immediately bookmarked the recipe! “Ah, the result of crossbreeding mochi with cake!” I told myself excitedly.

That was four months ago though – during which Pei-Lin got sidetracked … by other recipes.
Early last month, as I was slacking catching up with others on Twitter, Su-yin’s tweet seized my attention. Another lovely fellow Malaysian blogging from London, she was raving about how scrumptious her mochi cake turned out on one Sunday night. My, oh my! I’m sure it was wicked! That reminded me of the promise long gone. Too bad, I’d already cooked and baked whatever I needed for the week. “Alright,” I said to myself, “Next weekend has gotta be mochi cake!” (Su-yin, thank you for the reminder!)

This recipe is SO versatile. So many bloggers have tweaked the original recipe and made a version of their own. Wendy made hers green tea, black sesame and chocolate flavored. Y made hers blondie. The Food Librarian made hers with fresh cherries. Sonia made hers green tea, too! Feeling inspired, I decided to marry East and West together in mine.

Presenting to you my coconut-screwpine and rum-raisin mochi cakes!

On the left: coconut-pandan flavored; on the right: rum-raisin flavored

Locally, screwpine is better known by its Malay name “pandan.” Ask just about anyone from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei, pandan is no stranger. It is sometimes dubbed the “vanilla of Southeast Asia.” We love a touch of pandan in our food, be it sweet or savory. One of the best flavor combos has got to be coconut and pandan, hands down! Just imagine the tropical whiff of the coconut working wonders with the sweet floral fragrance of the pandan leaves. You’ve got to give coconut – with pandan a shot if you haven’t done so, especially when you’re not from this region. For those of you residing in the “West,” you should be able to get pandan leaves at large Asian grocers. The leaves come refrigerated though, which is unlike here, where we can simply snip off a few from the garden – fresh. (Pandan is commonly cultivated here. My mom used to have several large pandan plants in her small yard. Dang, the dog killed them all! So, I went and begged for a few pandan leaves from my neighbor.)

Pandan plant: This used to be in my mom's tiny garden ... It's now gone! *Sob*

I wanted rum and raisins in my cake because the boozy combo is also one of my favorites. They’re match made in heaven, just like the coconut-and-pandan combo! However, it wasn’t all rosy along the way. Blame myself for being sloppy and lazy. I subbed butter for oil. Then, I made a grave mistake by mixing the oil together with the other liquids before folding them into the eggs-and-sugar mixture! In the end, the mixture refused to emulsify! Argh! Think of it this way: The whole process was basically like making gĂ©noise batter – except that it was gluten free. *Slap myself*

So, the coconut-pandan mochi cake from my maiden attempt turned out to be denser and shorter in height than the rum-raisin one (as pictured), which was from my second attempt. The green coconut-pandan cake bore a chewier texture, with tighter crumbs, kind of kuih-like. (Kuih, or kuih-muih in its plural form, refers to the variety of bite-sized local snacks from Malaysia and Singapore. They are usually sweet, though can be savory. Chewiness is associated with kuih.) The good news is, just like what I’d twat Faithy that same Sunday night, who also made the cake long ago, no matter how badly the recipe was screwed up, my coconut-pandan mochi cake was JUST as delectable! I felt like I was eating a fluffier kuih bakar! Haha!


Between the two flavor combos I have here, I prefer coconut and pandan to rum and raisins. That’s simply because I found that the coconut-pandan flavor remained strong even on the second and third day. My rum-raisin one was the opposite though. I could only taste the rum the same day the cake was made. So, if you plan on polishing off the whole deal in one sitting after baking, rum and raisins ain’t a bad choice!

Other than that, I can safely say that I got the texture right on my second attempt. Mochi cake is at its best on the day it was made. As you bite into the cake, you’d feel like as though you’re eating a fluffy cake. But as you slowly work it in your mouth, the cake gets springier – and yet remains fluffily cakey at the same time! Nope, you aren’t being duped! You’re eating mochi cake! It’s gluten free!

Mochi Cake (makes a 7x7-inch cake and three regular-sized cupcakes)
Adapted from lemonpi's

Coconut-Pandan mochi cupcakes topped with some chocolate chips

Coconut and pandan variant:

(A)
187 g evaporated milk/thick coconut milk
2 long pandan leaves

1/4 tsp pandan paste
* Can be found at Asian grocers, if you're residing in the "West." *
(B)
210 g glutinous rice/mochiko flour
15 g coconut milk powder
* For those of you residing in the "West," coconut milk powder can be found at Asian grocers. *
1 tsp baking powder

(C)
2 large eggs -- at room temperature
175 g caster sugar
Pinch of salt

85 g neutral-flavored oil
* As mentioned, I replaced unsalted butter with oil. I used corn oil. No olive oil, please. *

75 g fresh grated coconut
  1. Lightly grease and line a 7"x7" square pan with parchment; set aside. Also, get three regular-sized cupcake liners ready as there will be more batter than you'd need for the square pan.
    * I don't have a 12"x8"x1.5" rectangular pan with me. *
  2. Blend (A) together in a blender/food processor. Then, pass and press the mixture through a strainer to separate the solids from the liquid completely; discard the leaves. Now, mix the pandan milk together with the pandan paste; set aside.
  3. Combine (B) together and sift once, set aside.
  4. Cream (C) together till pale and fluffy. (I had mine creamed till the ribbon stage.) Now, fold in the oil gently to combine, and followed by the pandan milk. Fold the ingredients together gently to avoid deflating the air incorporated within.
  5. Gently and gradually fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture -- halfway through, fold in the grated coconut too. Ensure that you get a homogeneous mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cupcake liners. Ensure the surface of the batter is smooth and even.
  7. Bake at 170°C for 20~25 minutes or till test done, i.e. the toothpick, when inserted into the center of the cake(s), comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cake(s) from the oven, and let it cool in the pan completely before unmolding to slice and serve.

Rum and raisins variant:

(A)
225 g glutinous rice/mochiko flour
1 tsp baking powder

(B)
2 large eggs -- at room temperature
175 g caster sugar

85 g neutral-flavored oil
* As mentioned, I replaced unsalted butter with oil. I used corn oil. No olive oil, please. *

(C)
2 tsp imitation rum
* I used McCormick's. *
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
27 g rum
* I used light rum. I'd go for dark rum if I have it. Utilize the rum from soaking the raisins, as stated below. *
160 g evaporated milk

150~200 g raisins -- soaked in rum for 2 hours, and then drained well
Extra glutinous rice/mochiko flour -- to coat the raisins with
  1. Lightly grease and line a 7"x7" square pan with parchment; set aside. Also, get three regular-sized cupcake liners ready as there will be more batter than you'd need for the square pan.
    * I don't have a 12"x8"x1.5" rectangular pan with me. *
  2. Coat the rum-soaked raisins with some glutinous rice flour; set aside. This is to prevent the raisins from sinking to the bottom of the cake as it bakes later on.
  3. Combine (A) together and sift once, set aside. Mix (C) together and set aside.
  4. Cream (B) together till pale and fluffy. (I had mine creamed till the ribbon stage.) Now, fold in the oil gently to combine, and followed by the rum-evaporated milk mixture. Fold the ingredients together gently to avoid deflating the air incorporated within.
  5. Gently and gradually fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture -- halfway through, fold in the flour-coated raisins too. Ensure that you get a homogeneous mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cupcake liners. Ensure the surface of the batter is smooth and even.
  7. Bake at 170°C for 20~25 minutes or till test done, i.e. the toothpick, when inserted into the center of the cake(s), comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cake(s) from the oven, and let it cool in the pan completely before unmolding to slice and serve.
Oops! Overfilled cupcake liners; hence, the awkward-looking mochi cupcakes ... Haha!

Before I sign off, here's something a little unrelated somewhat related. I'm sending this post to The Sunday Creative. (Dang, I missed last week's!) This week's creative prompt is "connect." Mochi cake is an edible connection between the East and West:

Mochi (East) + Cake (West) = Mochi Cake (Fusion)

It's that simple! (Yay! I made it through this week's challenge!) Hope you get to try mochi cake, if you haven't!

    41 comments:

    Jess @ Bakericious said...

    Hi Pei Lin, mochi cake sound interesting and looks yummy, ve bookmarked.
    BTW, I have some awards for you, feel free to pick them up from my blog :).

    Angie's Recipes said...

    They look exotic and sexy! (yes, sexy, esp. that mochi bread).

    ICook4Fun said...

    I love mochi too. When Diana were studying in Japan I told her she don't have to buy me anything from there. Just bring home lots of mochi for me ha ha.. I have yet to try out the baked mochi. Great idea in westernizing the eastern mochi :)

    Su-yin said...

    I'm so glad you had so much fun making (and eating) them! :) Such a great cake, isn't it? The coconut pandan version is something I'm gonna have to try next time!

    I know what you mean about mochi bread, I've made it once from a premix, but can't find it here in London. Have been searching high and low for a recipe, but with no luck. I actually bought a pack of premix, then decided not to bring it back to London because I was worried that they might errr.. think it was drugs. Lol!

    Happy Homebaker said...

    Interesting mochi cake, sounds good and definitely looks good! I am sure it taste very good too :) I was given a pack of Korean mochi bread premix, I have yet to try it though.

    Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

    Pei Lin, can you email me the recipe of the 'failed' mochi bread? I have also been trying to make this from scratch. Almost all the recipes on the net called for a Premix. I tried to make it from scratch a couple of times but mine did not puff up like the way yours does. The real thing sold at Sun Moulin bakery is not totally hollow inside - but not quite dense as the case in your photos. Also I had bookmarked Hong Kong Wendy's post some time ago. Great minds think alike!

    edith said...

    Now I know what I want you to bring. hahahaha When you are here you need to try the Sun Moulin's or Provence's. I love those.

    wendyywy @ Table for 2 or more..... said...

    I love pandan and coconut combo too
    :)

    My fav, actually.

    jess @ j3ss kitch3n said...

    such a creative idea and they looks so yummy will try it out soon =D

    Made2Order said...

    my goodness! i thought this post would never end! it was a long one haha.. I had to take breaks in between to suck in all the information!! anywhow! good to see someone blogging about east meets west desserts.. keep it up, im following!

    faithy, the baker said...

    Gorgeous looking cakes! Looking at your mochi cakes make me feel like eating them again...they taste yummy don't they? I haven't tried other combos yet..your rum & raisins sounds heavenly!

    babe_kl said...

    hmm i have never tried this before, sounds delish.

    BTW, August is round the corner, it’s time for the next instalment of the virtual Merdeka Open House. I’m looking for suggestions for this year’s theme, hope you could contribute some but do remember to participate and join in the fun!

    Kitchen Corner said...

    Do I have a chance to taste your Mochi Cake soon? It's something special for me as I never tried them before. I like to eat mochi a lot :)

    Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

    good creation, I need to think another flavour if next time i make this again.

    Honey Bee Sweets said...

    Really nice cake and mochi! I have been wanting to try making mochi / mochi bread for the longest time. :p Looking at your cute mochi bread is making my hands itchy! How about making us some when we see you in Aug? Heehee!

    Jo said...

    Haha .. another long post but who is complaining. I love your mathematical formula to "eating" - its a classic! Love the recipes and coconut pandan and rum raisin sounds so, so good!

    Bakertan said...

    Hi Pei-Lin,

    Your mochi products all looked pretty good. Nevermind if the mochi bread wasn't a success. If it tastes good, who cares?

    pandan coconut and rum raisins are 2 of my favorite combos too. and i agree that the rum flavour will diminish after a while since the rum will evaporate. Looks like I should give this mochi cake a try. I love mochi too, and would'nt mind marrying mochi and cake together.

    cheers

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Thank you for the encouraging words, y'all! Happy weekend! (I still gotta slog hard this Sunday for no pay ... *Sob*)

    @Jess: Yea, mochi cake does sound intriguing and yummy! Lemme know how yours turn out, K? Btw, thank you so much for the awards! Feel honored! *Grinning* But all I'm thinking of now hor is ... SLEEP! Man, it's gonna be a sweet one with such encouraging words from you! See you soon!

    @Angie: *LOL* Hell, yea ... I heard ya! All food is sexy! Haha!

    @Gert: What!!?? Diana also studied in Japan!? So, she can speak Japanese too I bet. Yes, you're so right on that! When I was in a transit at Narita Airport, I saw REALLY exotic mochi: ice-cream mochi, pastry cream-filled mochi. Those really caught my attention. But then, I failed to buy some to try as I only had 2 hours to shop there. I ended buying something else! Haha! You know, Japanese goods are SO fancy! I was having hard time trying to decide on which stuff to tag home. *LOL*

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Thank you for the encouraging words, y'all! Happy weekend! (I still gotta slog hard this Sunday for no pay ... *Sob*)

    @Su-yin: Gal! Thank you so much for reminding me of the bookmarked recipe!! The promise long forgotten ... Haha! Yea, try that coconut-pandan one. It's wicked! Haha! Honestly, I haven't really tried looking for mochi bread premix in KL. You have it in Penang? Been distracted by so many other bakes/dishes ... Haha! Well, maybe I'll start my mochi bread hunt when the mood strikes. Wish me luck! I wonder if those bakery supply stores carry them ... Well, I won't be surprised if London doesn't have the premix. Even New Yorkers and Sydneysiders are having hard time looking for the premix. Agreed! It really does look like dadah! Haha!

    @HHB: The cake has an interesting texture, seriously. Argh! How I wish I have a bag of the premix, too so that my curiosity can be fed immediately. ;)

    @Shirley: Already emailed you the recipes. They're actually linked here. Yes, almost all call for premix. I think I ought to try the mochi bread in SG soon. Been getting sidetracked by so many other great bakes/dishes too!? Haha! Great minds think and work alike! =P

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Thank you for the encouraging words, y'all! Happy weekend! (I still gotta slog hard this Sunday for no pay ... *Sob*)

    @Edith: Hahaha! Not just try the mochi bread ar ... But also tapau them home ... Man, hope my baggage won't be overloaded in the end ... *LOL*

    @Wendy: Erm ... I think most of us Malaysians, Singaporeans, Bruneians, Indonesians, Thai love the coconut-pandan combo ... We should be proud of our cultural heritage geh ... =D

    @jess: Hey, there! Well, we gotta thank the recipe developer-cum-mochi cake creator I guess ... I only followed suit ... except for a few tweaks here and there. *LOL* Lemme know how yours turn out! Maybe you can even come up with more exotic flavors! Keep the creativity flowing! =D

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Thank you for the encouraging words, y'all! Happy weekend! (I still gotta slog hard this Sunday for no pay ... *Sob*)

    @Made2Order: ROTFL! Yea, I bet all of you guys have noticed that I'm indeed long-winded. I admit that, too. Thanks so much for taking time to read my ramblings, haha! I like writing when time's given. But I don't talk like how I'd write, I only talk when I feel there's chemistry. Otherwise, I'll be as quiet as a dead log. Haha! Well, I don't get to blog about East-meets-West dessert unless I've made one, like these mochi cakes. Certainly, I hope there's more to come though. Thank you once again for being supportive! I heard ya!

    @faithy: Yea, I know you're a huge rum-and-raisins fan! The cakes were indeed worth the time and efforts spent! Very interesting! ;)

    @babe_kl: Haha! I wish you could have tried some ... Maybe we should organize a Malaysian food bloggers' gathering ... Sounds good hor? Wait, now let my brain take some break first. Will get back to you with some ideas for the Merdeka Open House. Promised! Gonna participate in that this year too! Why I saw semua orang mau Satu Malaysia concept geh? Actually, Wendy's one-pot meal idea sounds pretty good, for a lazy cook like me! =P

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Thank you for the encouraging words, y'all! Happy weekend! (I still gotta slog hard this Sunday for no pay ... *Sob*)

    @Grace: Good! We have gobs of mochi lovers here. Haha! Not feasible ... The cake goes stale fast, which is a problem! =S

    @Sonia: Thank you! I can foresee ... After your wicked Nasi Lemak Pizza, you're gonna make Nasi Lemak Mochi Cake! =P

    @Bee Bee: No, no! Not feasible. Since you're itching to make mochi/mochi bread, maybe you should make those instead leh ... Haha!

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Thank you for the encouraging words, y'all! Happy weekend! (I still gotta slog hard this Sunday for no pay ... *Sob*)

    @Jo: Haha! Just being playful with my words ... Sometimes, I'm surprised to find that I can actually be quite naughty, nonsensical and creative too. =P

    @ZY: Thank you for being supportive! Haha! "Products" makes my bakes sound like SKUs. Must be dealing with too many SKUs lately ... *LOL* Well, as long as no food is wasted, I'm happy. Yea, I dislike the fact that liquors evaporate after baking, which leads to the diminishment of the boozy flavor ... I know it's science. Can't do much. Glad that you like the combos and mochi! Mochi is one of my fave Asian snacks/desserts! Lemme know how yours turn out, yea? =)

    Swee san said...

    It looks yummy Pei-Lin.. must make this soon!!

    zurin said...

    mmm mochi and htat filling looks very very good! YUM :))))

    Elin said...

    Pei Lin...Mochi cake sounds great. You are such a talented young lass. Love your write out too :)Will want to try it out. East meet west :)

    petite nyonya said...

    what can i say, my dear...u truly are the queen of mochis! i love the combination of flavors reflecting unique mix of cultures. u are just so creative with this and well done!!

    tigerfish said...

    I enjoy soft and slightly chewy mochi too! What a profile of textures in your cake, sweetie.

    MaryMoh said...

    Pandan and coconut always create a beautiful explosive flavour....my favourite. Your mochi cakes looks very delicious. Thanks very much for sharing.

    noobcook said...

    east-west creations are always interesting and yummy looking, like yours. I love pandan a lot. Are you going to do fushion mooncakes this year? ;)

    Lyndsey said...

    I was able to find some pandan paste and just discovered a huge Asian market by where my husband works, they have pandan leaves. I love coconut and pandan and your cake looks awesome! The texture is perfect!

    I really enjoy your blog, my first visit here, but I'll be back!

    mysimplefood said...

    Hello...looks like you really had fun baking them and they did turn out great!! Will come by for more recipes!

    Maria said...

    I absolutely love both mochi and pandan! This looks fantastic!!

    rokh said...

    since i love mochi as well, i am so tempted to make this one

    Anonymous said...

    Hi Pei Lin
    stumbled upon your blog and saw this mochi cake recipe. may i know what is the texture of the cake like? also, what is the imitation rum for? if i don't have that, can i use rum? also, how much rum should i use to soak the raisins? thks
    regards
    octopusmum

    Sue said...

    Hi, I have been searching high and low for the recipe for azure bean paste. I saw the word "homemade azuki bean paste" from your post but you didn't have post dated Mar 2009. Do you mind tell me how to do it or where can I find the recipe?

    Anonymous said...

    Good evening

    Can I link to this post please?

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Hi, Anonymous!

    I hope this is a serious comment, not a spam comment I sometimes do get. =)

    Sure, be my guest! It'd be great if you can let me know of why the link in detail. But, please don't commit plagiarism. It's not a nice thing to do, ya know.

    Thanks for visiting! Have a good evening to you, too.

    Anonymous said...

    Great post, I am almost 100% in agreement with you

    Anonymous said...

    Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

    - Daniel

    Julie said...

    Hi! I'm sorry but I MUST have your pandan mochi bread failure recipe!! It looks delicious and I really want to try it! Can I have a copy of it?

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