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Sugee cake

The wonderful Melba Nunis is a culinary force, championing Kristang cuisine through her private dinners and at her now-closed restaurant Simply Mel’s. Editor Alia would drop in once in a while to gorge on keluak-based dishes, and when she found out that the restaurant was going to close, bought an entire loaf of their sugee cake to eat by herself. Melba’s version is simultaneously rich from the butter yet airy from the egg whites, while being deeply fragrant and nutty. It’s traditionally served at Christmas and weddings which explains the large proportions of butter and eggs.

Recipe originally appears in A Kristang Family Cookbook; shared with permission by author Melba Nunis. Copies are available for sale via this link.

Sugee cake

by Melba Nunis

The wonderful Melba Nunis is a culinary force, championing Kristang cuisine through her private dinners and at her now-closed restaurant Simply Mel’s. Editor Alia would drop in once in a while to gorge on keluak-based dishes, and when she found out that the restaurant was going to close, bought an entire loaf of their sugee cake to eat by herself. Melba’s version is simultaneously rich from the butter yet airy from the egg whites, while being deeply fragrant and nutty. It’s traditionally served at Christmas and weddings which explains the large proportions of butter and eggs.

Recipe originally appears in A Kristang Family Cookbook; shared with permission by author Melba Nunis. Copies are available for sale via this link.

Servings: A crowd

Servings: A crowd

450g butter (room temperature)

450g castor sugar

225g sugee (semolina)

12 egg yolks

225 ml cream

5 egg whites

170g almonds, chopped and toasted (see Tips)

1 ½ tsp vanilla essence

½ tsp almond essence

½ tsp rose essence

2 tbsp brandy (optional)

225g self-raising flour (sifted)

 

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:

Stand mixer or hand mixer

Four 7″ x 4″ loaf tins or one 12″ square cake tin

  1. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes at medium speed. Scrape the paddle and bowl every few minutes to ensure the butter and sugar are well mixed. Add the sugee and mix evenly. Cover the bowl and leave for at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  2. When ready to bake, remove the sugee batter from the fridge (if in the fridge) and let it come to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease four 7″ x 4″ loaf tins or one 12″ square cake tin, and line with parchment paper.
  4. Beat the egg yolks into the sugee batter one at a time, mixing well after every addition. Add the cream gradually while mixing in the egg yolks.
  5. In a clean, grease-free bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks. This can take about 10 minutes depending on the power of your mixer (or your arms!). Set aside.
  6. Add the almonds, vanilla essence, almond essence, rose essence, and brandy (if using) to the batter. Mix to incorporate.
  7. Fold in the flour just until no dry bits remain. Then gently fold in the beaten egg whites so as to not deflate the air.
  8. Depending on the baking tins used, divide the batter equally among the prepared loaf tins, or pour the lot into the square tin.
  9. Place the batter in the tin(s) into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 130°C. Bake for about 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake is still jiggly, keep baking and check the cake with a tester every 5 minutes or so.
  10. Once the cake is set, remove from the oven and let cool. Wrap with aluminium foil and store at room temperature if not eaten on the day.

Tips

  • Editor’s note: You can use pre-chopped almonds for this recipe; just place them in a toaster oven (or regular oven) for about 10 minutes at 160°C, shaking the pan midway through.
  • Once baked, let the cake cool completely so that it will keep. Storing in the fridge will cause it to dry out faster, so if you made the cake with brandy, the cake will keep in a cool and dry spot on the counter for up to a week, wrapped in aluminium foil.
  • If not using brandy, wrap the cooled cake with aluminium foil and store in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature before serving. (Editor’s note: Reheating in a microwave will make the cake greasy, so serve at room temperature for the best texture.)

Ingredients

450g butter (room temperature)

450g castor sugar

225g sugee (semolina)

12 egg yolks

225 ml cream

5 egg whites

170g almonds, chopped and toasted (see Tips)

1 ½ tsp vanilla essence

½ tsp almond essence

½ tsp rose essence

2 tbsp brandy (optional)

225g self-raising flour (sifted)

 

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:

Stand mixer or hand mixer

Four 7″ x 4″ loaf tins or one 12″ square cake tin

Directions

  1. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes at medium speed. Scrape the paddle and bowl every few minutes to ensure the butter and sugar are well mixed. Add the sugee and mix evenly. Cover the bowl and leave for at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
  2. When ready to bake, remove the sugee batter from the fridge (if in the fridge) and let it come to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease four 7″ x 4″ loaf tins or one 12″ square cake tin, and line with parchment paper.
  4. Beat the egg yolks into the sugee batter one at a time, mixing well after every addition. Add the cream gradually while mixing in the egg yolks.
  5. In a clean, grease-free bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks. This can take about 10 minutes depending on the power of your mixer (or your arms!). Set aside.
  6. Add the almonds, vanilla essence, almond essence, rose essence, and brandy (if using) to the batter. Mix to incorporate.
  7. Fold in the flour just until no dry bits remain. Then gently fold in the beaten egg whites so as to not deflate the air.
  8. Depending on the baking tins used, divide the batter equally among the prepared loaf tins, or pour the lot into the square tin.
  9. Place the batter in the tin(s) into the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 130°C. Bake for about 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake is still jiggly, keep baking and check the cake with a tester every 5 minutes or so.
  10. Once the cake is set, remove from the oven and let cool. Wrap with aluminium foil and store at room temperature if not eaten on the day.

Tips

  • Editor’s note: You can use pre-chopped almonds for this recipe; just place them in a toaster oven (or regular oven) for about 10 minutes at 160°C, shaking the pan midway through.
  • Once baked, let the cake cool completely so that it will keep. Storing in the fridge will cause it to dry out faster, so if you made the cake with brandy, the cake will keep in a cool and dry spot on the counter for up to a week, wrapped in aluminium foil.
  • If not using brandy, wrap the cooled cake with aluminium foil and store in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature before serving. (Editor’s note: Reheating in a microwave will make the cake greasy, so serve at room temperature for the best texture.)

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© Copyright Periuk 2022

© Copyright Periuk 2022

 
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