Talam Kacang Merah (Steamed Cake with Red Beans)


Talam Kacang Merah

Talam Kacang Merah

Talam refers to a tray or in Malay, a dulang whereas Kacang Merah means Red Beans or in this case Red Mung Beans. So I guess the name refers to Red Mung Bean cake in a tray. But  you may say isn’t a cake a kueh in Malay? Honestly, though I am a Malay, I am just as confused between a kueh and a talam. As far as I know, a kueh in Malay typically refers to a snack or dessert. So my guess is, back then it was given this name due to the fact that this kueh is cooked in a metal tray or some may say a wide cake pan which was also used as a tray for serving. Well at least that’s my take on this issue.

I hope I didn’t confuse you with my explanation. Now, the word kueh is more well-known than a talam so you will be understood if using just the word kueh.

I have explained to you the characteristics of traditional Malay kuehs in my previous post and Talam Kacang Merah is no different. It is a steamed cake, made primarily  of rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. It has two layers, one of which contains red beans and is sweet and is usually the bottom layer. The top layer is usually unsweetened, in fact, has a tinge of saltiness, to balance the sweet bottom layer. This top layer is usually thinner than the bottom layer. As for the color, you can color both which ever way you want but rule of thumb is to color each layer differently.

Most steamed cakes can be eaten hot or cold. You can make it a cold dessert by just chilling it in the fridge before serving. Another important thing to note that I forgot to mention in my previous post is to make the bottom layer no thicker than 3 cm or 1.25 inch  so that you can reduce the steaming time and the cake can cook more evenly. As I blog, I will try to share tips I remember that will help you in making this kueh.

I have made some changes to the original recipe as I prefer a thinner unsweetened top layer hence the reduced quantity. Please see the recipe below.

Preparation Time: 30 – 45 minutes

Steaming Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour, depending on the thickness of your cake

Makes: 1 cake tray

Ingredients for the bottom layer

  • 50 grams of red mung beans
  • Enough water to cover and cook the beans
  • 1 spoonful of cooking oil (so that the red beans doesn’t clump)

Boil the above ingredients in a pot until the beans are cooked. Drained it and set aside. Alternatively, you can just buy a ready made canned red bean from the supermarket like I did, just drained the beans and set aside.

  • 200 gram of rice flour
  • 250 grams of caster sugar
  • 1 liter of thin coconut milk
  • 2 level tablespoons of corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Preparing the bottom layer

Making Talam Kacang Merah bottom layer

Clockwise from top-left: Making Talam Kacang Merah bottom layer.

We do the following steps to expedite the cooking process. Instead of directly steaming the diluted bottom layer batter, we cook it slowly under direct heat to thicken it and cook the ingredients. This will reduce the water in the batter and steaming time later.

  1. Mix the dry ingredients above in a bowl.
  2. Place a pot on LOW heat. Pour in the coconut milk and the mixed dry ingredients into the pot and stir until well combined.
  3. Optional, if you wish to color your batter, now is the time. Add a drop or two of the food coloring and mix well.
  4. Keep stirring the mixture until it thickens to the consistency that of condensed milk. Then mix in the drained red beans before it thickens further. If its too thick you will have difficulty mixing in the red beans.
  5. Remove from the heat and pour into your greased cake pan. Level the batter nicely using the back of a slightly greased spoon.
  6. Once done, place your cake tray into the steamer, cover and steam for 20 minutes. Now you can start on the top layer while waiting for the bottom layer to cook. Check occasionally to see if the bottom layer batter is cooked.

Ingredients for the top layer

  • 500 ml of thick coconut milk
  • 60 grams of rice flour
  • 2 level tablespoons of green bean flour (Optional, if you don’t like the taste of green bean, like I do)
  • 2 level tablespoons of glutinous flour or corn flour or 4 level tablespoons if you are not adding the green bean flour above.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Preparing the top layer

Making Talam Kacang Merah top layer

Clockwise from top-right: Making Talam Kacang Merah top layer.

Similarly for the top layer, we cook the mixture first before steaming.

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Place a pot on LOW heat. Pour in the coconut milk and the mixed dry ingredients into the pot and stir until well combined.
  3. Optional, if you wish to color your batter, now is the time. Add a drop or two of the food coloring and mix well.
  4. Keep stirring the mixture until it thickens to the consistency that of condensed milk.  Remove from the heat once it has reached the consistency of condensed milk or slightly thickened.
  5. Remove your cake pan from the steamer and check if the bottom layer has cooked. If you notice the surface of the bottom layer is wet due to water droplets dripping into the cake pan. Place it back in the steamer and steam it again for a couple of minutes uncovered. This will dry the surface of the bottom layer. Or use the tip of a paper kitchen towel and dab on the watery areas to absorb the water
  6. Once the bottom layer is ready, make a few very light scratches on the surface of the bottom layer with a fork so that the top layer will stick to its surface.
  7. Pour the top layer batter into your greased cake pan, on top of your bottom layer.  Level the batter nicely using the back of a slightly greased spoon.
  8. Return the cake pan into the steamer, cover and let it steam for another 20 minutes.
  9. Once it is cooked, remove the cake pan from the steamer and let it cool completely before cutting it with a greased knife.

Tips:

  • To avoid water droplets formed on the lid due to steam from dripping into your cake pan, you can cover your cake pan with a heat-resistant plastic colander or rest a heat-resistant plastic on your cake surface to trap water dripping into your cake pan.
  • If water has dripped into your cake pan, you can steam the cake pan uncovered for a couple of minutes. This will dry out the water on the surface. Alternatively, you can use the tip of a paper kitchen towel and dab on the watery areas to absorb the water.
  • Don’t make your cake layers too thick, use a wider cake tin if required. I recommend slightly below 3cm or 1.5 inch thick.
  • You can cut and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • This dessert can be eaten warm or cold.

Do give this recipe a try, experiment and improve on this recipe and share for the benefit of others. Have a nice day everyone 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Talam Kacang Merah (Steamed Cake with Red Beans)

  1. Looks beautiful, Ummi. And to add even more confusion, the only kind of talam I’ve ever had is called kueh talam (with coconut on it) so it’s a “cake cake”? I had it in Indonesia. Was delicious, by the way, but not as pretty as yours!

    • Hi Angie, thanks for dropping by my blog. There are many such cake names in Malay that are given generic names for example ‘Kueh Kukus’ which means Steamed Cakes but there are many other variations! I will be featuring more of traditional Malay or Asian cake recipes in my future posts. Stay tuned ya. Have a day 🙂

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