Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sri Melaka Cupcake

Alex Goh is a popular Malaysian pastry chef who has published books ranging from cakes and cheesecakes to breads and pastries. Under my growing recipe book collection I have 3 titles from Chef Alex. What I find approachable is that in one of his books, he willingly had his mobile phone number printed inside it so that people like you and me could reach him for baking related questions, hints and tips. Although I don't seem to have much luck with some of his bread recipes, on the contrary my sister's attempts have been highly successful thus far. One of his latest books I've recently purchased is Magic Steamed Cake, which I thought is just perfect since I have an under utilized steam oven. However, you don't really need a steam oven because simple equipment like a wok with a cover or steaming pot will work just fine.

Sharing with you here is a simple recipe from his steamed cake book - Sri Melaka Cupcake. Melaka is the name of my hometown state, a historical place once upon a couple of centuries ago had been colonialized by the Portugese, Dutch, Japanese and English. The name of this cupcake must've been derived from the use of gula melaka (gula = sugar). Gula melaka is basically brown palm sugar made from the sugary sap of the Palmyra palm and is produced in cylindrical blocks. Whether it was originally produced in my home state or not, I have absolutely no idea. But what I can say for sure is that gula melaka is widely used in many gastronomical delights of the Baba Nyonya or Peranakan cuisine which originates from Melaka, from our dishes to sweet desserts to cakes. Gula melaka is also very widely used in many yummy Malay cakes and desserts.

gula melaka

There are many cottage producers of gula melaka in Melaka (as with elsewhere in Malaysia) but only a true old timer food critic I call 'Dad' knows where to get the actual pure stuff. Some producers may make it by mixing with white granulated sugar, and the color is often pale in comparison to the real thing. My sisters and I can be sure of adequate packets of gula melaka readily available for us each time we make a visit back home. Our dad refuses to buy from any other supplier except his regular trusted one. According to him, finding dead bees trapped inside the gula melaka and high softening point (needs to be kept in the refrigerator) are indicators of pureness. They say the Nyonyas are fussy, well you haven't met my dad yet!


200g gula melaka (or brown sugar as substitute)
120g water

4 eggs
100 g white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt

150g corn oil
150g coconut milk

400g flour
1 tsp sodium bicarbonate
4 tsps double action baking powder

1. Cook A until sugar is dissolved, set aside to cool.
2. Whip B until sugar dissolves and mixture slightly thickens. Add in A adn C, mix until well-blended.
3. Fold in sieved D, mix until well combined.
4. Fill cupcake liners placed in muffin pan till about 3/4 full.
5. Steam for 30 minutes or until cake is done.

I serve it with grated white coconut as they pair well together.

Happy steaming!

petite nyonya


  1. Jos, such lovely little treat! Can FedEX over a dozen? haha... It's a beautiful recipe and thank you for sharing it. Have a wonderful evening.
    Cheers, Kristy

  2. This is the 2nd Sri Melaka cupcake I'm seeing in a week.
    Truly agree that it's hard to find good gula melaka nowadays.
    The coconut topping is a nice addition.

  3. Oh my gosh, I am so tempted of making this. Taste like home :)

  4. Looks yummy, with the coconut topping. Great idea! Will have to make a batch of this. It's been a long while since eating anything like this!

  5. This looks good.
    By the way, I have only one of Alex Goh's book on bread. But, I have not hands on to make any bread yet.

  6. So apt for your Nyonya inspired blog.... I heard one should go to Malacca to get good gula ...

  7. Totally agree with your dad about using quality gula melaka!
    Your cupcakes must be good with the right type of gula melaka!

  8. Oooh....looks delicious. New to me. Would love to try some time.

  9. I have gula melaka but no idea they can be used to make delicious looking cupcakes like yours :)

  10. Joslynn, your words are so dear to my heart too! My mom is from Melaka. The gula melaka we have been using fits your description exactly! Low melting point, soft, has to be kept refrigerated! YES! That's the pure stuff! My mom told me the gula melaka was bought by my aunt, who is in Melaka. I do travel down to Melaka every so often to visit my old aunt. Will stock up on the gula on my next trip.

    Hey, I'm not sure why gula melaka is named "melaka!" Not sure of its birthplace. However, I heard the best, best gula melaka actually is from Terengganu. True?

  11. I love gula melaka. The cake looks very delicious with the coconut topping.

  12. with gula melaka, i bet this cake must be full of coconut fragrant, look so yummy!

  13. cupcake sure looks yummy and very true about Dad! Pure Baba Melaka in every way! Now my office frens also start to place order for the Gula Melaka! Must follow dad to that gula melaka supplier one day..hmm..

  14. The look wonderful. I love the addition of coconut. I bet this would be amazing with a cup of tea :)
    *kisses* HH

  15. Looks really good!! I can't wait to try out!

  16. Me too! Just commented in another blog about me liking cendol cos of the gula melaka! and now I see gula melaka cupcakes! Yay!

  17. Lovely, but I'll have it plain without the snow white coconut topping! Taking orders??

  18. Waw!! these ingredients intrigue me!!

    The cakes look stunning & I love that coconut on top, screams: EAT ME NOW!!!!

  19. Hello, found your blog by accident :), got some interesting recipes here :), have a nice day :)

  20. Must be so flavourful with the gula melaka!

  21. I don't think I have ever used gula melaka to bake sweets before. The muffins look very beautiful with the coconut shreds atop.

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  23. Wow! Defintely on my baking list!! The top one . Hahah.. Thanks for sharing :)

  24. These cupcakes look so good...and the addition of coconut on top looks perfect...what a lovely treat!

  25. So the question is, where can we find the best gula melaka that your dad recommended?? =D

  26. Oh man, these look good! Gula melaka is a first for me, but I'm sold!

  27. Hi there, do u have any idea where i could get pure Gula Melaka in Malacca? i would be driving down to Malacca this weekend

  28. hi Anonymous, you can scout around jonker street area. i don't think there is 100% pure ones but some brands are pretty close to pure ones. my fav is a packet with 3-4 blocks of gula melaka in it and the name "hj shaari b. hj adam" is printed on the plastic packet. choose the darker brown of gula melaka if u have a few brands to compare. darker ones has more originality & lesser mixture of white sugar.

  29. Thanks for your good information, im driving in today. hope i would be able to source out a few purer gula types. Thanks Petite Nonya