I had never heard of this traditional Nyonya dessert before until a friend of mine mentioned it to me, and kindly shared the recipe which comes from a cookbook by Terry Tan. I was excited about making it because I had some blue pea flowers (bunga telang) which I seldom used, and this was the perfect opportunity to use them. These pancakes are wonderfully light and fluffy, and together with the thick and rich banana sauce (more like a gravy, really), it was a match made in tropical heaven. Each bite just melts in your mouth, and will have you wanting (and eating) more.
As I didn't have the special apam mould, which is a pan with several depressions/craters, I used my small Kenwood frying pan instead to make individual pancakes, one at a time. Here is the recipe:
Adapted from Terry Tan
250g rice flour
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup coconut water, or plain water mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp cake flour
2 tbsp glutinous rice flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup coconut milk
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 tbsp bunga telang juice, optional (or substitute with a little blue colouring)
100g gula melaka
3 tbsp caster sugar
1/3 cup water
2 pandan/screwpine leaves, knotted
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tsp glutinous rice flour, dissolved in 3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
5 medium bananas, sliced into rounds
- Stir 2 tbsp of rice flour and 1/3 cup water together over low heat, until mixture thickens to a paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and whisk in remaining rice flour, coconut water, yeast, sugar, cake flour, and glutinous rice flour. Let stand at cool room temperature for 2 hours or unitl frothy and doubled in volume.
- Whisk in coconut milk and let it stand for another hour.
- Lightly stir the batter. Heat an apam berkuah pan over low-med heat. Grease depressions with oil. When hot, ladle a scant 2 tbsp of the batter into each depression. The batter should sizzle. Then swirl in a drop of bunga telang juice. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 mins, until the top of the pancakes are cooked and the bottoms are browned. Transfer pancakes to a plate. You should get 20 to 22 pancakes in total.
- To make the sauce, bring gula melaka, caster sugar, water and pandan leaves to a boil in a pot over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add coconut milk, glutinous rice flour mixture, salt and bananas and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 mins or until bananas are just tender. Serve hot with pancakes.
- If you don't have the special apam berkuah pan/mould, you can cook the pancakes individually in a small 14cm frying pan with a thick base, with a tight-fitting lid to cover.
- Bunga telang is also known as blue-pea flower, and is commonly used in Nyonya cooking, especially for colouring glutinous rice. The flowers can be dried and stored in the fridge for future use. Just a few petals soaked in 1 tbsp hot water is sufficient to produce a vibrant and deep blue colour.