In my recent visit to Malacca, my aunt gave me blocks of good quality gula melaka (palm sugar). I absolutely love gula melaka! I love its complex flavours - rich and layered hints of caramel, butterscotch, toffee, nuts, coffee, coconut; and I love how it infuses its flavours into food and cakes. Last but not least, I love that it is healthier than most sugars - its glycemic index is lower than white or brown sugar.
And now I have blocks of it! Where to start?! My previous post was an experiment on which method is best for baking butter cakes. So, with butter cakes on the brain, I decided to bake a butter cake using gula melaka instead of white granulated sugar. This is not original idea. You'll find gula melaka butter cake recipes easily on the net. That is because gula melaka blends so well with the fragrance of butter, and gives butter cake an added ooommph. Kinda no-brainer for a perfect combination.
In my previous post, I adapted Mrs Ng SK's famous butter cake recipe in the combination method. In this post, I again used the same recipe but used gula melaka instead of white sugar. There is a distinct difference in the resulting taste. The one using white sugar was moist and delicious. The one using gula melaka had an added slightly caramel/nutty/smoky flavour - it's hard to describe. Personally, I prefer the cake baked with gula melaka.
Preparing gula melaka for usage is quite easy. You can either use a grater or a knife to chop it into pieces. To use it in a butter cake recipe, it is better to chop or grate it into as small grains or pieces as possible.
These are the ingredients for the recipe. There should be white sugar included, which I missed out.
I substituted some ingredients in my adapted recipe - plain flour with baking powder instead of self-raising flour and yogurt instead of milk, simply because those were what I had in my kitchen. The Baking Powder is only needed if you substitute Plain Flour for Self-Raising.
The method used is the Combination Method, where butter and sugar are creamed first (for more information on creaming, see my earlier post in My Butter Cake Experiment, under Success Factors for a Good Cake) Eggs are pre-separated, with the yolk added to the butter mixture, and egg whites are whipped with white sugar and then folded into the butter/sugar/yolk mixture.
Gula Melaka Butter Cake
(adapted from Mrs Ng SK's Butter Cake Recipe)
Weighing machine or measuring cup
8” x 4” loaf pan or 8” round pan
Cooling grid / rack
230gm salted butter (or unsalted butter + ½ tsp salt)
150gm gula Melaka
4 egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
200gm self-raising flour, sifted (or plain flour + 2 tsp baking powder)
60ml plain yogurt (you may use milk as in original recipe)
4 egg whites
50gm white granulated sugar
Grease and line one 8” square pan
Set oven temperature at 170 deg Celsius.
Cream butter and gula melaka into the mixing bowl, and beat from low and then gradually increasing to medium speed until mixture becomes light and creamy.
Add the egg yolks gradually, one at a time, beating between each addition.
Add in Vanilla Extract and beat to combine
Add half of flour into creamed mixture and fold quickly and gently until combined.
Add in milk and stir until combined.
Add in remaining flour mixture and fold quickly and gently, then leave aside.
In a clean, grease-free mixer bowl, beat egg whites until they are foamy.
Add remaining 50 gram sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form.
Put 1/3 of the egg white mixture into creamed batter and stir to combine.
Fold in remaining egg white mixture quickly and gently into the batter until all have been incorporated.
Pour into greased and lined pan, then put into the oven.
Bake for about 60 minutes, checking the oven after 50 minutes. If the top of the cake looks dark but the middle is not done yet, place a piece of aluminium foil loosely on top to prevent further browning. This part can vary as it depends on your oven. For my oven, it took about 80 minutes.
When toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, the cake is done. Place the cake, still in the pan, on a cake rack and leave for at least 15 minutes. You can gently nudge the cake out of the pan, and leave on the cake rack until completely cooled.