Bánh bò, which literally translates to “cow cake” (bánh = cake, whether sweet or savory | bò = beef/cow), is actually a sweet, slightly chewy and porous Vietnamese rice cake. The one pictured here is bánh bònướng(nướng = baked - although it can also mean grilled, etc). The outside is golden brown while the inside is usually yellowish but in this picture the cake is pandan-flavored, which explains its green color. Unlike its steamed version (that is often made in small, individual size), the baked version is often larger and served in slices. It is also usually firmer and chewier but with bigger “pores” than the steamed one.
It is sometimes called the Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake because of its texture. Contrary to its name, there is no trace of beef/cow in it.
Today I assisted my mom in making Banh Bo, which literally translates into “Cake Cow” because the texture of the cake resembles the insides of cow liver. However, it is better defined as steamed rice cake. This recipe took about 2 hours from start to finish.
We began by heating 400mL of coconut milk and 300g sugar in a medium sized saucepan on medium heat until boiling. Immediately upon boiling, it was removed from heat until it cooled for about 15 minutes (or until it was just warm). We used a digital cooking scale to measure the ingredients.
Meanwhile, we added 500g rice flour, 100g tapioca starch, 7g active dry yeast, and 450mL of water to a large mixing bowl. Upon the addition of water, the mixture becomes a thick and gooey dough. This dough was kneaded well for 10 minutes. We used a disposable glove for this because the dough was pretty sticky.
We then poured the warm coconut/sugar mixture into the dough, mixing it well with hands. The resulting batter was covered with plastic wrap and left to sit for about 1 hour until it looked frothy and bubbly like this:
The next step was to mix in some food coloring. We did this by separating the batter into 3 separate measuring cups, mostly because it is easier to pour from. A few drops of food color was added and the mixtures were stirred well.
We used small porcelain dishes and silicone cupcake molds for steaming the cakes. First, we greased them by brushing on a thin layer of vegetable oil. Then, we poured the cake batter into each cup, about 2/3 of the way to the rim. The batter was steamed for 10 minutes.
After steaming, the Banh Bo was ready to serve!
Banh Bo can be eaten plain but I like to eat them dipped in a simple coconut sauce, which can be made quickly by heating together coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and a dash of salt in a small sauce pan.
Bánh bò, which literally translates to “cow cake” (bánh = cake, whether sweet or savory | bò = beef/cow), is actually a sweet, slightly chewy and porous Vietnamese rice cake. The ones pictured here are bánh bò hấp (hấp = steamed).
There is also a baked version of this cake. Contrary to its name, there is no trace of beef/cow in it.