Bebinca: a multi-layered cake from India

Method

Step 1
In a small frying pan, simmer 75g (5 tbsp) of sugar over medium high heat, swirling the pot occasionally, until the caramel begins to turn amber, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately. Add ¼ cup of water to the caramel to cool down the mixture.

Step 2
Using a food processor or blender, grind the remaining sugar to a powder.

Step 3
Into 2 large bowls, separate the egg yolks and the whites of 15 eggs. Add the 3 whole eggs to the egg yolks and reserve the egg whites for another use.

Step 4
Add the powdered sugar to the egg yolks and whisk thoroughly to make it creamy and fluffy. 

Step 5
Wrap the freshly grated coconut in cheesecloth and squeeze to extract 1½ litres (about 6¼ cups) of the milk into a bowl (or use canned coconut milk). Mix the flour into the coconut milk.

Step 6
Remove 2 tbsp of the coconut milk mixture and place in a small bowl; mix with the nutmeg powder. 

Step 7
Whisk the egg mixture with the coconut milk mixture and nutmeg mixture. Pass this through a strainer to ensure a lump-free bebinca mixture. Add a pinch of salt. Divide the bebinca mixture evenly into 2 separate bowls.

Step 8
Add the cooled caramel to one of the bebinca bowls and stir to get a nice brown colour.

Step 9
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Heat a 25cm (10in) cake tin over medium heat on a stove. Add 2 tbsp of ghee, making sure the ghee covers the bottom. Add enough of the first layer of batter (the lighter batter) to cover the base. Let it cook on the stove over 180C/350F for about 8 to 10 minutes until you see bubbles and the sides turn light brown. Transfer the baking tin to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the baking pan and spread ½ tsp ghee to the top of the first layer.

Step 10
Add the second layer of batter (the darker batter), enough to cover the first layer. The layers should be thin, so don’t add too much batter. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F. Put the baking tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the second layer is cooked. If you see air pockets, don’t worry; press the batter with the back of a tablespoon to release the air. Spread ½ tsp of ghee over the layer.

Step 11
Pour the third layer (lighter batter) just enough to cover the second layer. Put the baking tin in the oven and repeat this process, alternating the light and dark layers, and baking for about 15 minutes per layer, until all the batter is used. There should be a total of 7 layers. Let the cake cool fully in the pan for 12 hours. 

Step 12
To demould the cake, set the baking tin over medium heat until the ghee melts at the bottom. Run a knife or spatula against the wall of the baking tin to release the bebinca. Set a flat plate on top of the tin and turn it over to release the bebinca. Serve hot. (The bebinca can be kept at room temperature for a week. You can reheat it in a microwave for 15 seconds before eating.)

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