Rural cakes awaken the child within

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Simple tasting rural steamed cakes remind locals of beautiful childhood memories

Many people love bánh da lợn (pig skin cake) because it tastes sweet and has a gelatinously soft consistency

A warm apple pie can bring a Westerner back to their childhood. The simple scents of fresh baked treats paint Norman Rockwell type images in the mind, like that of Grandma's warm apple pie cooling in the window.

In Asia, steamed cakes can be compared to the memories of Grandma's cooking. They are not only simple dishes but also remind locals of the beautiful memories of the Vietnamese countryside.

As a child, locals often enjoy steamed cakes as desserts and treats. There are many kinds of steamed cakes such as bánh chuối hấp, bánh da lợn, bánh Ä‘úc and bánh bò.

Here are a few quick recipes that will awaken your inner child:

Bánh chuối hấp (steamed banana cake) is made from ripe bananas. Peel the banana, then cut it length-width-wise. Then mix it with tapioca starch and rice flour, and add a little salt and vanilla powder to make the cake more fragrant. Put the mixture into a mould and steam it until the starch turns translucent. The steamed banana cake has a soft and pleasant smell and tastes sweet. The richness comes from the coconut milk, roasted sesame and peanuts.

Bánh da lợn (pig skin cake) is a steamed layer cake made from tapioca starch, rice flour, mashed mung bean, taro or durian, sugar, coconut milk and water. The cake is eye-catching with green and yellow colors that overlap together. Many people love it because it tastes sweet and has a gelatinously soft consistency.

Bánh Ä‘úc (plain rice flan) is comfort food for those away from their home-town. The cake is made from non-glutinous rice flour. It is white in color and has a soft texture and a mild flavor.

Steamed cakes are a rural and simple treat, but locals love it very much. A restaurant serving steamed cakes, located at 116 Phan Dang Luu Street, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City, is always crowded because it specializes in bánh Ä‘úc.

The cake is garnished with savory ingredients such as ground pork stir-fried with wood ear mushrooms, grilled ground shrimp, fried onions, sesame seeds, salt, peanuts, lime juice, and soy sauce or fish sauce.

Bánh bò (literally "cow cake") is a sweet and chewy sponge cake. It is made from rice flour, water, sugar and yeast. It appears honey-comb shaped on the inside due to the presence of small air bubbles. The cake is often small, and the colorful treat gets children pointing and begging every time they pass a street vendor's basket or cart.  In addition to pleasing children, the rural steamed cake gives adult customers a taste of their childhood memories.

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