Now I know why I don’t make this cake often; because it took me nearly 4.5 hours to prepare and cook! But the taste is divine and it is worth the effort but not something you’d want to do too often.
When I was growing up, mum used to make this once a year, during Diwali and we were not allowed to eat big slices, only petit pieces. She got this recipe from our Malay neighbours when we were living in the Sungei Petani army camp in the early 1980’s. If you have the endurance, give it a go. You won’t be disappointed. And thank you Mr G for helping out in the kitchen (he was my dish washer and water boy – he had the job of topping the steamer with hot water!) and the kids for separating the Haw Flakes. Unfortunately, the Haw Flakes separation process caused a fatality to the amounts – half of it was consumed by the kids. Thank god I had extra! So a word of warning – if you have children helping, make sure you have plenty of the haw flakes at home!
10 eggs – yolks and whites separated carefully
3 cups caster sugar
3 cups (about 300g) of plain cream cracker biscuits – I could not find any Hup Seng or Jacob’s Brand (made in Malaysia) so I used a brand from Sri Lanka called Maliban. Worked out great!
1 tin (400g) sweetened condensed milk
250g butter – softened
10 packets Haw Flakes (Chinese fruit lolly) – available at most Chinese grocery shops and some supermarkets
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 scant tsp each of green and yellow food colourings
Lightly grease cake tin with butter. If lining the tin, make sure that you only line the bottom and no paper is touching the side. This will spoil your layers.
Beat egg whites with sugar till light and fluffy (see picture). I used a Kenwood cake mixer with the whisk gadget throughout this cake making process.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with the butter till fluffy. Gradually add in the condensed milk, whilst still beating the mixture.
Turn the Kenwood setting to low and add in large spoonfuls of the egg white into the bowl. Mix well but not for too long – you don’t want the ingredients to curdle.
Next, using a wooden spoon, add in the biscuit flour, followed by the vanilla extract.
Spread ½ an inch of the batter in a tin (I used a 22 inch spring form tin) and top with haw flakes (see picture). Steam for about 10 to 12 mins per layer (skewer should come out clean when inserted). Repeat the process with alternating colours until the batter is all used up. Do not top with the Haw Flakes at the last layer. Also, on the last layer, steam the cake for about 20 mins (instead of the normal 10 mins). Remove from the steamer; wipe the cake tin dry and now finish off the cake in a 170°C preheated oven for 10 to 15 mins.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before taking it out of the tin. Make yourself a good cuppa tea (or coffee) and enjoy your cake! Oh, and make sure that you take good pictures….you would not be making this in a hurry!