A slice of vibrant green Vietnamese honeycomb cake on a plate.
Desserts,  Features,  Our Supper Club,  Recipes,  Vegetarian

Bánh Bò Nướng: Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake

Pandan extract gives this traditional Vietnamese cake a vibrant, green hue.

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For March’s green-themed Supper Club dinner, Dino was eager to try out an interesting recipe he obtained from one of his coworkers. Bánh Bò Nướng is a Vietnamese dessert in which extract from pandan leaves gives it a rich, green hue.

A green bundt cake on a plate with a slice placed on a smaller plate with a vibrant green filling.

The word “honeycomb” in this case comes from the fact that when the cake is sliced open, it looks like the texture of a honeycomb. The key to creating this texture is a mix of tapioca flour (AKA tapioca starch) and single-acting baking powder.

We learned that the most popular and regularly available baking powder in the USA is double-acting, meaning that it has one reaction when mixed with wet ingredients and a second reaction when exposed to heat. Single-acting baking powder only reacts with wet ingredients, so it’s key that you seek it out if you want to make this recipe at home. Apparently the use of double-acting baking powder will cause a huge, gummy mess. I found Dr. Oetker’s Original Baking Powder at our local Stop & Shop, which is a single-acting, German baking powder.

Dino’s coworker, Gina, recommended that we use buko pandan flavor extract. Buko refers to young coconut- and so the bottle we used was a mixture of young coconut and pandan flavoring. Gina has been perfecting this recipe for years, so we trust her!

Hands taking a photo with a phone of a green bundt cake on a plate with a slice placed on a smaller plate with a vibrant green filling.

This cake is not a typical dessert by any means. It has a spongy texture and is not overly sweet. Pandan itself has a rich, nutty and grassy flavor which works very well with the coconut milk and young coconut flavoring. To me, the taste was reminiscent of marzipan. It certainly fit the bill for our green-themed dinner, and it got a big reaction when sliced open due to its interesting texture and vibrant, green color.

If we make this cake again, we would seek out pure pandan extract without the young coconut flavor and artificial ingredients to see how it differed from this version.

This would be a fun dessert to serve at a Halloween party with a chocolatey glaze- the dark color of the chocolate with the bright green would be wicked good fun!

A slice of vibrant green Vietnamese honeycomb cake on a plate.

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A slice of vibrant green Vietnamese honeycomb cake on a plate.

Bánh Bò Nuong: Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake

  • Author: Gina Planas
  • Yield: 8-10 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese

Description

Pandan extract gives this traditional Vietnamese cake a vibrant green hue.


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. 1. In a sauce pan over low heat, add the 1/2 can of coconut milk and the 1 cup sugar. You’re basically just melting the sugar here so it will only take a few minutes. Turn the heat off then add the Buko Pandan flavoring. I usually put about 1/3 of the small bottle, but it all depends on how much flavoring you want your cake to have. To me, 1/3 – 1/2 is just perfect.
  2. 2. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes or whenever it totally cooled down.
  3. 3. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
  4. 4. In a mixing bowl, whisk the 6 eggs (don’t over beat the eggs).
  5. 5. When the coconut milk/sugar mixture is completely cool, mix this to the beaten eggs along with the 2 cups of tapioca flour + 2 1/2 teaspoon of single acting baking powder. Again, don’t over mix. The consistency should be watery.
  6. 6. Pour the batter in a bundt or cake pan (sprayed liberally with cooking spray) and bake for 40-45minutes.**

Notes

*SINGLE-ACTING baking powder substitution:
1 teaspoon = 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

**I guess this will depend on your oven. I followed instructions in the past to bake it 50-60min and I noticed that the ends end up being way too dry while the inside is moist and chewy. So I started to experiment and lessened baking time, making the entire cake moist and chewy with no dry ends (of course if you prefer the first, you can bake longer so it’s up to your preference).

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2 photos - 1 of a slice of vibrant green Vietnamese honeycomb cake on a plate and one of a bundt cake with a slice cut out of it.

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35 Comments

  • Choclette

    This is fascinating. I wonder what single acting baking powder is. Will have to find out. Love the colour and structure. panda is one of the many things I’d love to get my hands on.

    • BigFlavorsFromATinyKitchen

      Here’s a recap from my post to help explain the single acting vs. double acting baking powder – it was all new info to us, too:
      The most popular and regularly available baking powder in the USA is double-acting, meaning that it has one reaction when mixed with wet ingredients and a second reaction when exposed to heat. Single-acting baking powder only reacts with wet ingredients.

    • Dino Covelli

      We had some single-acting baking powder left over from making this cake. I used some to make buttermilk pancakes and they turned out really well. They were less fluffy than they usually turn out, but in this case it was a good thing.

  • Debra C.

    I bet this is just delicious and it looks so fun! That bright green color looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book – too fun!!!

  • Michelle De La Cerda-Nash

    I was so excited to see this recipe. I grew up in SoCal in Little Saigon and have missed this cake since moving away. Pinned the recipe…YUM

  • Manila Spoon

    I totally love Pandan as my mom actually has this plant in our back garden! This cakes looks moist and scrumptious! I have to make this when I go home to the Philippines. Pinned, too. 🙂

  • Jerry Russell

    Now I’m going to have to see if I can find Pandan. i don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere in San Antonio so far. Amazon, perhaps?

  • Mel

    I think I messed up somewhere. I used a Pandan extract at 30ml and my cake turned brown. Not sure what happened.

    Also it collapsed but maybe my oven was too cold or it was too oily? I used coconut oil in a bundt pan.

    • Ashley

      Hmm – the recipe calls for about 1/3 of a 20mL bottle of Buko Pandan flavoring, so 30mL would be too much. I know that the pandan flavoring is different than extract, which may be the reason for the color change. Also, did you find single acting baking powder? If you used double acting (which is what’s standard here in the US), that may have caused issues with it not rising properly. Sorry to hear that you had trouble with it!

  • lcfatoom

    Do you think frosting would suit banh bo nuong? Like a pandan flavored bundt cake glaze or something made with sweetened condensed coconut milk? I’d like to try this recipe but I’m afraid my family won’t like it unless it has a frosting.

    • Ashley

      I think that would be a nice accompaniment – the cake isn’t very sweet, and that may make it more appealing. I’d love to hear how it turns out when you make it!

  • Christine Dang

    If you were to put it in a cupcake tin instead of a bundt/cake pan, how long would you bake it for? Would you bake it at the same temperature?

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Ashley

      I haven’t tried this in a cupcake tin, but my guess would be to check it after 20 minutes at the same temperature. There are a lot of articles about converting recipes to cupcake tins and a few recommend doing just one “test” cupcake with the batter first to determine the best bake time. Hope that’s helpful!

    • Ashley

      I believe the tapioca starch should be smooth – tapioca pearls would definitely be lumpy. It’s been a long time since I’ve used tapioca starch so I did some poking around online to see if other people had lumps in tapioca starch and didn’t find anything. Sorry I can’t be more helpful here!

    • Ashley

      Hi Tiffany – I got a similar question a few days ago so I’m going to copy/paste my response – hope this is helpful!

      The real extract is VERY strong so if you use that, use a lot less and maybe add a bit of coconut extract too. The buko pandan flavoring has coconut in with the pandan flavor. I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes if you try it out this way!

    • Ashley

      Oh I see yours is a paste but it is the artificial flavor. I’d think since it’s a paste it may be more concentrated in flavor but not as much as the real pandan extract. I’d use a bit less than what’s called for and if it doesn’t contain coconut, maybe add a bit of coconut extract if you have it. Hope that helps!

    • Ashley

      Hi Tammy – I just filled mine with water to measure it and it’s a 12 cup pan. It’s been several years since I’ve made this so I’m not sure it there was extra room in my pan or not. I do plan to remake this recipe to write it up more thoroughly since it is so popular and I’ll be sure to make note of that when I do.

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