As a diehard bak kwa fan, I was intrigued when actress (and Le Cordon Bleu-taught baker) Jeanette Aw shared her bak kwa tea cake recipe on Instagram.

After all, the barbecued pork snack is delectable enough on its own. But would it be equally good as a dessert? I decided that I had to give it a try.

Here’s Jeanette’s recipe, which I tried to follow as closely as possible.

Ingredients

For the sponge cake:

  • 37g almond power
  • 76g icing sugar
  • 12g all-purpose flour
  • 80g egg
  • 44g beurre noisette (browned butter)

For the bak kwa-infused cream:

  • 120g heavy cream
  • 40g bak kwa
  • 15g sugar (Jeanette didn’t specify which type, but I winged it and used icing sugar)

Steps

1. Melt the butter and bring it to a simmer. It will turn golden brown, releasing in a nutty aroma. You’ll notice some small and brown milk solids forming, which means you’re on the right track.

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Credit: Kimberly Anne Lim/AsiaOne

2. Sift the browned butter and set it aside to cool.

3. Sift all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add your eggs and combine, whisking gently.

Credit: Kimberly Anne Lim/AsiaOne

4. Add in the browned butter.

5. Distribute the batter into your mould or tin. Jeanette used a silicone micro savarin mould (savarins are ring-shaped cakes), but I made do with a 22cm x 17cm mini muffin pan. I also made sure to coat my pan with butter so the cakes wouldn’t stick.

The batter should make 24 cakes if you’re using a micro savarin mould like Jeanette’s, but it filled up my 12-cup pan perfectly.

Credit: Kimberly Anne Lim/AsiaOne

6. The recipe calls for the cakes to be baked at 170 degrees Celsius for eight minutes. I had to leave mine in the oven for an extra five minutes as they were still a little wet at the eight-minute mark.

7. Toss your cream, bak kwa and sugar into a pot and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and infuse the mixture for 15 minutes.

Credit: Kimberly Anne Lim/AsiaOne

8. Sift the mixture. Remove the bak kwa pieces, cover the bowl with cling wrap and let it chill.

9. Whisk the cream until it forms stiff peaks.

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Credit: Kimberly Anne Lim/AsiaOne

10. Take the cakes out of the mould. Fill or top them with the bak kwa-infused cream. Decorate with bak kwa pieces.

The verdict: A great way to enjoy bak kwa without the grease

Credit: Kimberly Anne Lim/AsiaOne

I wouldn’t say this was the easiest recipe for complete novices like me, but the results were well worth the struggle.

Full disclosure: it did take me several attempts to successfully whip the cream. In between fervent Googling and whisking until my arm felt like it would fall off, I realised my cream wasn’t thickening because I’d either boiled the cream for too long, hadn’t chilled it enough, or both.

In any case, the third time’s the charm and the satisfaction of seeing the cream fluff up was nearly as good as the dessert itself.

And the bak kwa tea cakes definitely did not disappoint. The slightly sweet cream blended perfectly with the sponge cake, while the bak kwa garnish added just the right amount of bite and umami.

The cakes — small enough to devour in one bite — proved quite addictive. With the pleasant bak kwa aroma, yet none of the grease, it’s all too easy to down multiple cakes in a single sitting.

The next time I make this, I’ll be doubling the recipe for sure. 

Text: Kimberly Anne Lim/AsiaOne