Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ban Jian Kuih

This is the original Apam Balik and the texture is chewy but the sides are crispy. You can make them in a 10 inch diameter and cut into wedges or have them smaller of which the thickness have to be proportionate to the size. You can even use as little batter as possible to make a crispy pancake. i had to edit all my recipes which 'lye' is mentioned as what i used was actually 'potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate solution' To read about this i received so many requests for the picture of the bottle , so here it is

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100 g all purpose flour
25 g rice flour
1/8 tsp potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate solution
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tbsp dry buttermilk
1/4 tsp salt
50 g sugar
160 ml water

Filling :

100 g chopped roasted peanuts)
80 g castor sugar ) Mix together

2 tbsp Margarine cut into small pieces


Mix all the ingredients well into a batter and leave aside covered, to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Lightly grease an apam pan(if available) or a 10 inch nonstick frying pan and heat it over a medium low flame.

Pour in all the batter and using the base of the scoop/ladle , spread the batter evenly around and to the sides of the pan. Cover pan.

When bubbles are seen on the surface of the half cooked batter, sprinkle a handful of filling over. Spread the pieces of margarine all over the filling.

Cover the apam and cook further for half a minute.

Remove the cover and use a flat-bladed knife/spatula to release the sides and bottom of the apam and fold into half.

Cool before cutting into wedges.

Recipe 2 with egg

125 gm bread flour
15 gm tapioca starch
40 gm sugar
1 egg and top with water to make 150 ml.

60 ml/4 tbsp water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

1 egg


Blend ingredient A and using hand mixer, beat flour mixture until bubbly and leave to rest for at least 1 hour.

Dilute baking soda, baking powder with water.

After 1 hour, add in egg and beat until well mixed.  Beat in the diluted mixture. Mixture should be thick and runny.

Heat up pan and oil the pan.  use kitchen towel to remove excess oil.

Turn down heat to MEDIUM LOW

Pour batter into pan and using a spoon or soup ladle, push the batter to coat the sides of pan.(if a thick ban jian kuih is desired, use all the batter.  I like to make 3 ban jian kuih with this recipe  your choice)

Let batter cook uncovered until batter has turned bubbly.

Then cover the pan and cook until batter is cooked and the sides has turned brown and crispy.

Sprinkle sugar all over the surface of cake and cook until sugar melts (cover with lid)

Remove cake from pan, brush the surface with butter, then sprinkle peanuts on to half of the cake.

Fold the half without peanuts over and press lightly.

Cut into pieces and enjoy



Anonymous said...

Look sooo yumm... n pretty!
Lily, what is lye water? I want try to make it this week end, thx..

lilyng said...


lye water is 'kan sui' in cantonese. you should have no problem finding it in the asian store. it is labelled as potassium carbonate and sodium bi-carbonate solution and the brand is koon chun sauce factory from hong kong

Anonymous said...

Hi lily,
I've been looking for a recipe for this cake but couldn't find the right texture. your picture looks like the one I want.
Can I omit the lye water since it has a pretty serious health concern?
Also, could never find dry buttermilk. is there any substitute for it?

I really want to make this, thx

lilyng said...


yes you can omit the lye water and to sub dry buttermilk, you could replace half the sugar with brown sugar or sub liquid with milk and add in a tsp of vinegar to the milk

sunchen said...

Lily,.. i have been not well for a couple weeks and what a pleasant surprise to log in and see this recipe. Thank you very much !

iam being impatient, dont have all the ingredient and made this without buttermilk & lye water, hence not the best result. a small amount of large bubble holes in the middle of pancake else where is flat. i will have a nother go, and let you know


lilyng said...


so sorry to hear that you have not been well. hope you are ok now.

you should have added a little bit of vinegar or yogurt. anything acidic so that the baking soda can reacte better

Linda said...

Hi Lilly:
I love your blog. It reminds me so much of home and my grandmther's cooking. Is lye water the same as alkaline water? What is its functions? I heard it may be bad for health - do you have any thoughts about that?
Thanks, Linda

lilyng said...


i have heard that it is so and i just don't know what to think. The fresh or dried wantan noodles made in US have it and the US govt permits it, then potassium bicarbonate at a moderate amount must be acceptable.

Baking soda is supposed to be no good too but it is in cake recipes and then again we don't eat cake every day. so????????

The function of the alkali in this case is needed to give the chewy texture

Anonymous said...

Auntie lily,

I had tried at least 4 different types of ban jian kueh recipes and once i set my eyes on your photo, i know this must be the ultimate recipe i looking for..just 2 questions:
1) May i know where you buy the dry buttermilk? Is it available to be purchase online?
2) Can you post 1 pic of it?

Thanks alot for sharing your recipe! You are such a gem! :)

lilyng said...


this is the buttermilk i use

if buttermilk is not available, please read the above comments where i have given a few suggestions.

good luck

sunchen said...

precious week i had been to 5 vietnamese shop and i know they have lye water, but no one understand what i meant.
this picture has helphed and..
the ban jian kuih turned up excellent. so,.. my search is finally over... ;P

you are the best.. thanks
ps: i made grated cheese filling for diabetic friends

Fatmel said...

Sorry..I'm new to this, and I don't know how to replace the dry buttermilk, like how much milk to add. If I want to use fresh soy milk. And if I don't have margarine can I use olive oil instead?

lilyng said...


no dry buttermilk? replace the plain sugar with dark brown sugar and sub margarine with butter

The Cooking Ninja said...

wow! very delicious looking. Unfortunately I don't know where to get potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate solution and dry buttermilk :( in France.

lilyng said...

the cooking ninja

no dry buttermilk, just sub granulated sugar with brown sugar and i know there are quite a number of vietnamese stores in paris and they will have potassium carbonate & sodium bicarbarnate solution.

Anonymous said...


What's the purpose of dry buttermilk? Why can we sub with brown sugar? Does brown sugar have the same chemical content in buttermilk? Just curious.


By LOveBaking

lilyng said...


both buttermilk and brown sugar are acidic and baking soda needs this to react and neutralize

sparky1971 said...

Hi Lily, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)
I tried this over the Christmas weekend and it came out very good. I didnt have buttermilk so I followed your advice and replaced the water with milk and vinegar. I will make some tonight but I am going to use brown sugar. Btw, I made more of your pineapple rolls cuz they are soooo good and addictive! :-))

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily, I'm new to this. May I know are you using whisk or jus using spatula to mix well the batter?

lilyng said...


i like to use a whisk to mix batters as it will prevent lumps

yogi said...

Hi Lily

Tried it this morning but it the texture is totally different. Too densed - maybe I went wrong with the flour? I used lye but I substituted the water with milk & vinegar like you suggested. Will try again another day. Nowadays in Penang, the most popular kind of thinnger, crisper ban chang kuih is to add all sorts of filling like tuna, nutella, sweet corns etc.

lilyng said...


if you want the crispy version - check out apam balik.

if you are in penang, use less liquid and make a thicker batter

Yogi said...

Hi Lily,

I am in Canada. If I were in Penang, I wouldn't bother learning to cook all the good food, LOL!!

I tried the recipe again this afternoon. I even bought a small scale that could weigh 25g as opposed to my bigger scale which I had to estimate. I substituted the sugar instead. (25g brown, 25g white)

This time I didn't burn the bottom (very slow heat); texture is slightly better but it doesn't seem to "rise". :(

lilyng said...


it will not rise like bread and if you like it raised, perhaps a little yeast can be added

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily,

I've tried some of the recipes you posted, they're fantastic! Wondering you have recipes for Muar Otak-otak, I missed it so much :)

Thank you.


lilyng said...


i can tweak a recipe to make the spicy fish paste but i don't think i can get the coconut tree leaves.

elejimmy said...


i tried this recipe out and somehow i didn't manage to have the honeycomb effect. pls advise.. tks!!! i didn't use the "lye water" and sub buttermilk with 25g granulated sugar and 25g brown sugar.

lilyng said...


if you did not use 'lye water', then you should have added more baking soda. this cake is all about letting the alkali in 'lye water' and baking soda to react with the acidity in buttermilk in your case the brown sugar.

PenangBoy said...

Hi Lily:
I am originally from Penang & moved to Canada since 1988. All your recipes are fantastic. I've tried several recipes & all of them so delicious. Especially comfort food like Bak Jian Kuih. My wife & my kids love it. since my wife don't like cooking, ur recipe definitely help me out big time :). I could not find dry buttermilk & I've replaced with regular buttermilk (20 ml) & used 140 ml water. Turns out really good.
Thanks again!!!

Alicia said...

Hi Lily,

I'm new to your blog. Thanks for posting all the wonderful recipies. Ban Jian Kuih is one of the all time fav food that I miss in M'sia. I've tried your recipe several times and it came out well. Shared it with my mom in KL too and she loves it. Thanks again!

sandrine said...

Hi Auntie Lily,
I tried making your ban jian kuih recipe twice this weekend. 1st time it didn't come out with honeycomb. I let it sit for 2 hours. I thought it was my baking soda as it will expire in 6 months.

I went to the store bought new baking soda. Let it rest for 1 hour. Just made it again, same result, no honeycomb.

I did use dry buttermilk also. Not rising for me :(

Let me know what I should do, I want to try again.


lilyng said...


i too experienced no honeycomb using this recipe the last time i made it. i think that i might have use a tinge less of water. if you should try again, use a little more water as flour behaves differently from day to day and seanson to season.

sandrine said...

Thanks Auntie Lily.
I am not very good with measurements, you mentioned reducing water. Should I go from 160 ml to 120ml or 100 ml?

How should the consistency be?

I can't wait to try again.

Thanks again so much for answering my questions.


lilyng said...


the batter should be runny like a pancake batter but slightly thicker.

try with more liquid and give me a feedback

pigpigscorner said...

Hi Lily,

I can only find liquid buttermilk, can I use that instead of the dry one?


lilyng said...


sure, sub 160 ml or more if necessary with buttermilk for water.

Anonymous said...

Hi aunty Lily,
I had make one last week, but unssucessfull. I put 50g of brown sugar instead of dry butter milk and I put little bit of "white lime stone". It became very hard at the bottom and it cracke when i fold it into half and not so much bubbles. Why? Is the stone or :air kapul" same like the "lye water"?

lilyng said...


it cracked cos you might have cooked it for too long or your batter could be just a shy little bit less of liquid.

if your frying pan is bigger, then the cake is thinner and will not have as much holes,

Anonymous said...

Aunty Lily,
thanks for the advised will try again bth, is "air kapul" same with the "PCSBS"?

lilyng said...


yes air kapur is the same as pcsbs

Philibert Leow said...

Hi Lily,

I'm a student studying in London and i have found your blog to be most helpful. I have tried a number of your recipes including the one for char siew and kor lun mein, and they have been absolutely great.

For this one, i substituted buttermilk with brown sugar as suggested. but the the kuih didn't "puff" up or raise like the ones back home, any ideas why? but the taste is great! though i may suggest cutting back on the caster sugar. 80g is really sweet!

lilyng said...


with this recipe, a smaller pan does a better job and getting a thicker cake. The batter spreads out and have not enough batter to rise.

I was discussing with a friend and she told me that she found that if she does not cover the pan, the batter rises better. I have to make this again and not cover the pan to see if there is any difference.

lori said...

Hi Lily
last weekend, i tried this receipe for my ever hungry boys. i almost followed your receipe to the T except for 2 ingredients that i am not so sure,buttermilk and potassium carbonate, i substitutied 1tbsp of alkaline water and 1 tbsp of yogurt. the batter turned out fine and almost pancake like. except there wasn't any honey comb like texture. i will go to the store and buy the missing ingredient and will try the receipe again. thanks for sharing all your yummy receipe.
lori (singapore)

lilyng said...


forget about the buttermilk and yogurt. try the latest recipe on ban jian kuih II - my yesterday's posting.

Pete said...

Nice recipe, gonna try it. Thks

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily

I tried this today and it was amazing - just like the ones I used to buy when I lived in PJ.

I really appreciate your website as it is keeping Malaysian cooking alive.

Anonymous said...

Come across a receipe, if buttermilk is not available, use equal portion of yoghurt and low fat milk. Why is it different from your version.

lilyng said...


in this recipe, i figured that the buttermilk will make the baking soda react better.

i have made a few more recipes this year, have a look at them at labels - malaysian

Anonymous said...

Hi Auntie Lily,

Thank you for posting this recipe! It looks so delicious. I can't wait to try it. What is bicarbonate of soda and where can we find it? Is it in liquid or solid form?

lilyng said...


bicarbonate of soda = baking soda and it is in powder form and available in all supermarkets

Nichole Koh said...

Hi Lilyng,

Thank you for posting d recipe. May i know where can i buy the koon chun brand lye water in kl/pj??Tks.

lily ng said...


i am sure you can look for it in any supermarket and if this brand is not available, ask them for lye water/alkali water/kan sui(in cantonese)/kee(in hokkien)/air abu (in malay)

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