Recently my Wednesday evenings have consisted of me sitting down with a cup of tea, watching the Great British Bake Off and trying my best not to lick the TV screen. Yeah, I lead a wild lifestyle.
Anywhooo, during the semifinal last Wednesday, the baker’s were asked to make a ‘Schichttorte’ for their technical bake challenge – a German grilled layer cake. I’d never seen or heard of one before, but after watching the baker’s proceed to grill layers of cake batter then melted butter, cake batter then melted butter… I started to see a resemblance to Bebinca – a Goan grilled layer cake.
And then I got inspired…
Bebinca (or bibinca/bibic) is a dessert made from coconut milk, egg yolks, nutmeg, cardamom, plain flour and sugar syrup. The dessert is made by grilling layers of the batter and ghee (clarified butter) – so not too dissimilar to the Schichttorte!
Bebinca is traditionally served at pretty much ALL Goan celebrations, and characteristically has interchanging dark brown and light brown layers. This is usually done by bubbling the sugar syrup for longer till you get a darker, thicker caramelly syrup, or by using treacle. You can also add food colouring to the batter to make different coloured layers, but I decided on sticking with the traditional.
The end result is a sweet, kinda gelatinous, spiced cake/pudding/dessert… thing…
BASICALLY, it’s delicious and you need to make it.
Though, I’m not a fan of suuuuper sweet things, so I thought I’d mix things up a bit and add a bit of coffee to mine. Because, coffee.
Firstly, I started by dissolving the caster sugar in 125ml of water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once it was clear and started to bubble I removed it from the heat and left it to cool completely. I then did the same with the light brown sugar, adding 125ml of water and dissolving it over a medium heat. However, for this I left it to bubble a little longer so the syrup would start to thicken and get a little darker. Once it reached maple syrup consistency I removed it from the heat and left it to cool completely.
For the batter I split my ingredients between two bowls to make sure I had equal volumes of each batter (the dark brown and the light brown). You could always just make it all in one bowl and split it later too… I just like to make things difficult for myself! In each bowl I added 5 egg yolks and 400ml of the coconut milk and beat them together. I then mixed the nutmeg and cardamom in a small dish, then added ½tsp of the spice mix to each of the two batter bowls. Oh, and a pinch of salt in each too! Then I added ½tsp of vanilla extract to each bowl also. Then I added 200g of flour to each bowl and whisked thoroughly removing any lumps. This left a thick, gloopy batter.
To one of the bowls I added the thin caster sugar syrup and mixed to a smooth, runny batter. To the other bowl I added the thicker light brown sugar syrup. In a small bowl I made a paste with the cocoa powder and instant coffee with a splash of water, then added this to the dark brown batter and mixed thoroughly.
I microwaved the ghee in bursts of 30 seconds till it was clear and golden. I preheated my grill and placed my tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin) in the oven to heat up. Once the tin had heated up, I brushed the bottom and sides of the tin with the melted ghee.
I then poured in a ladle full of the dark brown batter and tipped it around to coat the bottom. I placed the tin under the grill for a couple minutes until this layer had cooked (till it was firm to the touch, and lightly browned).
Once the first layer was cooked I spooned on a tablespoon of the melted ghee, spread to the edges and placed under the grill to heat taking care to not let it burn/brown.
Before it started to bubble, I took it out and added a ladle (the same ladle, or ideally another of the same size) of the light brown batter, tipped it to coat the layer beneath and placed under the grill to cook. I repeated this process, layering batter and ghee, until I ran out of tin.
Once cooked, I tipped the bebinca out of the tin and patted with a paper towel to remove some of the excess ghee. Serve warm, or cold.
- 200g light brown sugar
- 200g caster sugar
- 10 egg yolks
- 800ml coconut milk
- ½tsp ground nutmeg
- ½tsp ground cardamom
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- ½tsp salt
- 400g plain flour
- 1tbsp cocoa powder
- ½tbsp instant coffee
- 3tbsps ghee
- Into a saucepan, add the caster sugar and 125ml of water. Dissolve the sugar over a medium heat, until clear and just starting to bubble. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
- In another saucepan, add the light brown sugar and 125ml of water. Dissolve the sugar over a medium heat and leave to bubble until it begins to thicken slightly. Once it’s reached maple syrup consistency, remove from heat and leave to cool completely.
- For the batter, I halved the ingredients between two bowls to make sure I had an equal volume in each, but you could always just make it in one and half the mixture afterwards.
- Grab 2 bowls.
- Into each bowl, add 5 egg yolks and 400ml of the coconut milk and beat together.
- Add ¼tsp of the ground nutmeg, ground cardamom and salt, as well as ½tsp of the vanilla extract, to each of the bowls.
- Sift in 200g of flour into each bowl and whisk thoroughly.
- Into one of the bowls, add the thin caster sugar syrup and mix to a smooth, runny batter.
- Into the other bowl, add the thicker light brown sugar syrup.
- In a separate smaller bowl, make a paste with the cocoa powder and instant coffee using a splash of water. Add this to the light brown sugar batter till fully incorporated.
- Preheat your grill, and place your tin inside to heat up (I used a 2lb loaf tin).
- Melt the ghee in a microwave in bursts of 30 seconds until clear and golden. Grease your tin by brushing the bottom and sides with the ghee.
- Pour a ladle of the dark brown batter into the tin and tip to coat the bottom. Place under the grill for a couple minutes till cooked and firm.
- Take out of the oven and pour on a tablespoon of the melted ghee. Coat the surface of the first layer and place under the grill to heat the ghee, making sure it doesn’t burn or brown.
- Take out of the oven and pour on a ladle full of the light brown batter, tip to coat the bottom layer then grill for a few minutes till cooked.
- Repeat this process till you run out of batter… or till you run out of tin!
- Once cooked, remove from the grill and tip out. You may want to pat it with a paper towel to remove some of the excess ghee.
- Serve warm, or cold.