By Andrea Pavee
From May till July, our family sees a flurry of birthday celebrations.
For their special day, each person gets to choose their birthday cake. My husband, whose birthday anchors the birthday bashes, has a penchant for Sugee cake, especially those slathered generously with buttercream icing.
As a Eurasian, Sugee cake has been a staple in our culture and tradition since time immemorial. Back then, attempting to get a recipe from the close knit circle of Eurasian bakers, was impossible, at best. Recipes were closely guarded and fiercely protected as family treasures.
With the Internet, Sugee cake recipes are a dime a dozen for you to pick and choose.
My recipe was handed on to me by my Aunty Angie, of treasured memory.
I remember my first requests were ignored until one day, she came and thrust a piece of paper into my hand. Written on it, with her delightful cursive (an art that seems to be going extinct!), was the treasured recipe!
While I have kept (mostly) faithful to her recipe, I have added my own dashes and splashes to enhance (I hope) the recipe. In sharing this treasure, I also hope it finds a place of pride in your homes.
1 block of regular butter (I love my butter salted, but either will do)
4oz sugee flour
4oz flour, sifted
7 egg yolks
2 tablespoons brandy, optional
1 tin Nestle cream
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
1 teaspoon Rose essence
To make this recipe well, you need to have the sugee soak into the butter overnight. Taking that into consideration, you will need to work backwards to determine when you should start on your cake so as to get it ready on time.
Other than soaking time, you will also need to factor in cake cooling time which is essential if you intend to ice it.
Preheat your oven to 150C.
Pour sugee from packet onto a baking tray. The tray need not be buttered as the sugee will not stick. Place the tray in the oven and roast for about 30 – 45 minutes at 150C.
Roasted sugee does not change colour so once the time is up, you can remove it from the heat.
While the sugee is roasting, place your block of butter, into a mixing bowl.
As soon as the sugee is taken out from the oven, pour it over the butter and mix well until everything melts and is combined. Then, place the bowl in a cool, dry place, overnight.
When you are ready to make your cake, crack 7 eggs and deftly skim the yolks into another mixing bowl. Beat eggs and sugar with mixer, or your hand, till light and fluffy.
Once done, beat the overnight butter and sugee mixture until it also becomes light and fluffy. Usually a 5 minute whip should be right.
While the mixtures are beating, sift your flour and baking powder together, while measuring out the brandy, if you are adding it in, and the vanilla and rose essences. Open your tin of Nestle cream.
Add the dry ingredients bit by bit, allowing the mixture to combine before pouring in more. If the mixture looks dry, add in the essences and brandy to smoothen the batter.
Add the cream and allow everything to combine. Remember to scrape the sides of your mixing bowl intermittently.
Pour into a pre-lined baking tin, shape of your choice, and bake with a temperature between 150 – 180C until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
*Nestle sells cream in a tin in most supermarkets. If you cannot get it, you can use whipping cream as an alternative, although you would have to whip it beforehand to thicken it before you add it into the cake batter.
**The original recipe does not have the addition of rose essence but I have found over time that rose essence pairs very well with this cake.
1 regular block of butter, room temperature
1 regular bag of icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Place butter in the mixing bowl and start beating it. While the butter beats, gradually add the icing sugar and allow it to beat for at least 5 minutes. Intersperse your additions of icing sugar with the vanilla essence.
The icing sugar can be added to taste. Once it achieves the sweetness you like, you can stop adding more in. To make sure that your icing is perfect, it should not have any aftertaste of butter on your palate.
The buttercream is done when it becomes creamy white.
Once you achieve the taste, consistency and creaminess required, place the bowl in the fridge, covered.
You can only ice your cake after it is completely cool. If you do it while the cake is warm, the butter will melt right off and you will be faced with a sludgy mess, although still edible!
If you would like to colour your icing, you can add in food colouring in increments to achieve the colour of choice.
*Although I have included the icing to this post, it is optional. Sugee cake is just as delicious without icing.
**Buttercream icing is just one option you can use. Other options include marzipan with royal icing, which is popular for Christmas or wedding cakes.
***Some recipes call for orange zest, almonds or cashews. My kids are not fond of nuts, which is why this recipe comes without them.
Editor’s Note: I was once told by a Eurasian lady, who was writing a cook book, that Eurasian mothers used to keep their recipes in a safe. They were the family treasures that were handed down from generation to generation and were their highly guarded secrets. If you are reading this recipe, count yourself very fortunate indeed! As you can see, a sugee cake is no ordinary cake. It is extremely rich and requires time and skill to make. In the age of thermomix, a “completely mum-made” sugee cake is priceless!
Posted by Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 2 July 2021