Banh Bo is Vietnamese honeycomb steamed sponge cake, made from rice flour, yeast, sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves. The rice cake is served as dessert with coconut sauce and top with roasted sesame seeds. In the Mekong delta, people add more coconut milk in the cakes.
Traditional Chinese white sponge cakes (Bai Tang Gao in Mandarin and Bak Tong Gao in Cantonese) often are used for worship and eat as snacks. The Chinese cake does not have coconut milk in it and has more sour taste. The popular way to eat is to put a rice cake inside Banh Tieu (hollow fried bread “ham chim peng”). On Ching Ming Festival, my family offers a lot of food for ancestor worship. We always have Chinese rice cakes with roast pork and Teochew braised ducks at the tombs.
- Chinese: Baak Tong Gou (Cantonese), Bai Tang Gao (Mandarin)
- Malay: Pak Thong Koh
- Filipino: Puting Asukal Bibingka
- Vietnamese: Banh Bo
These recipes of honeycomb steamed sponge cakes used bread yeast (or rice wine yeast). It’s best to review all recipes. It may take 2 days to make successful honeycomb rice cakes, since the batter needs time to rise and ferment. I suggest to prepare the dough starter 1 day in advance. Let the syrup batter ferment in a warm place until there are a lot of foams rise up, may need more than 3 hours.
- Banh Bo recipe 1 – by RunAwayRice. Good for a beginner. Good instruction video. Use this recipe, but make the starter a night before, keep the syrup batter in a warm place until there are a lot of foams.
- Banh Bo recipe 2 – by Trucvy Zoe.
- Banh Bo’s Instruction video – by RunAwayRice
- Pak Thong Koh by WendyinKK. Chinese honeycomb white cake used rice wine yeast (or buy “com ruou” fermented sweet rice balls from Asian deli). See below picture of WendyinKK’s “double deck” honeycomb sponge cake.
Bánh bò rice cake was originated from Mekong Delta since it has coconut cream in it. Many people translate the name “Banh Bo” as “cow” cake is incorrect. Since bò in Vietnamese means cow or crawl. And “crawl” is the best term to describe the process of “rising” or “falling” of the rice cake during steaming.
- Photo credit: Dat Khach
- Link to recipe 1 – by RunAwayRice
- Link to recipe 2 – by Trucvy Zoe
- Instruction video – by RunAwayRice