This is one of our favourite old-fashion bites. We have had this recipe for years which was adapted from a local newspaper. For health and weight reasons, the sugar and butter contents in the original recipe had been reduced as much as possible without affecting the texture of cake. It is soft and moist (even when eaten the next day!) with a sweet aroma of butter and caramel (definitely a match made in heaven). Not very sure but think this cake is also called the Ma Lai Kao - translated as Malay cake.
It is considered an easy recipe but for me the real challenge is getting the caramel as dark as possible and to smell as nutty as possible without burning it. Yes, it happened many times, so I have learned to watch it like a hawk (not even to blink one's eyes) especially during the last few nanoseconds. Once burnt, it cannot be used unless you like a bitter cake! On the other hand, undercooked caramel gives a boring pale looking cake and no nutty aroma....
Steam caramel butter cake
dark brown caramel
2) Pour the hot water in and be careful of the sputtering syrup. Boil for a minute or so to melt the caramel. When it has cooled add the butter to melt and put aside.
3) Beat the eggs and 60 g sugar together well, and add to the cooled syrup and mix well.
4) Sift flour, b. soda and baking powder. Add into the caramel mixture and fold lightly into a smooth batter. Add the ideal milk and mix lightly. If batter is lumpy strain it.
7) Place in a preheated steamer and steam for 30 minutes.
Our faithful bamboo steamer
These are the best steamers for chinese cuisines like paus, dim sum and steam cakes because the steam does not condense on the bamboo cover, unlike the stainless steel steamer whereby water vapour drop onto the steamed food and ruin the taste and texture. If one tier is not adequate where space is concerned you can stack another tier on top, and another... we have three tiers! These have been with the family for more than 15 years and still work perfectly - good investment!