Banh pia (pia cake), with the sweet taste and pure scent of durian, is a specialty in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang. The cake has a harmonious combination of many ingredients including pliable layers of green peas (or taro), pork fat and the yolk of salted duck egg.
It impresses dessert lovers with a perfect combination of greasiness and sweetness from its filling that is made of mung bean, taro or durian, and a salted duck egg yolk. The cake looks simple but its preparation requires skillfulness to make the cake beautiful and flavorful.
Banh pia recipe:
To make a delicious cake, bring lard and oil over high heat to stir together until lard melts completely. Then, let the oil mixture cool down before using it to make pastries.
Two kinds of dough are needed to make the pastries of the cake. To make water dough: mix bread flour, wheat starch and baking powder together. Stir oil mixture, water and sugar and add them to the premixed flour. Knead about 10 minutes to form smooth dough. To make the oil dough: mix tapioca starch, bread flour and oil mixture together.
Next, one will prepare filling of the cake. Boil some pork fat for five minutes and cut into pieces the size of match sticks. Mix it with sugar and let it sit for a half hour.
Rinse and soak mung bean for at least four hours. Cook until tender and mashed. Stir-fry over medium heat for about a half hour and add sugar, durian and pork fat.
Mix bean mixture with cooked glutinous rice flour together. Stir-fry for five minutes until mixture thickens. Mix egg yolk with wine and steam for 15 minutes.
Place the oil dough on the water dough. Roll them as flat as sheet of paper, fold them into thirds, roll again and fold them into thirds once more. Folding the dough many times will help create the layers of the pastry. Roll the dough into a flat circle with the edges thinner than the center, and the dough should be just big enough to wrap the filling.
Push the filling with the core of egg yolk down into the dough with one hand. Pull and ease the dough up to cover the filling and then gently flatten the cake.
If branding the pastry with a stamp, bake the cake for a few minutes stamp side down until dough lightens in color and the layers start to puff.
Then use a sewing needle to poke a few steam vents through the pastry with the stamp side up. Continue baking for another 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffy and the bottom is slightly golden.
Brush with egg and bake for five minutes until shiny and slightly golden. Those not brave enough to go through all of these painstaking steps can still enjoy the authentic flavor of Soc Trang Province, as the cake is available in bakery shops, stalls or supermarkets throughout Ho Chi Minh City.