Before the lights go out and I can’t photograph with natural light; before the memories of baking together with mom and grandma fade; before grandma’s memory vanish, sucked by the Alzheimer’s black hole.
One afternoon, my mom and I strolling the memory lane with old pictures, black tea and steamed cupcake.
Yesterday, my mother feel restless due to her recent retirement. She was the busy mom type of woman. So she can’t feel happier when she’s not working or doing something.
Currently in her late 50s she still cooking for all of her children, her mother also her domestic helper. She is and always be the cooking goddess in our family. I, whom not too keen on cooking complex dishes, more than ecstatic to oblige.
One of her outlet when she’s restless of course through cooking. And she can cook just about anything.
Steamed cupcake is just one of her modification recipe from the generic ones. It’s just like snapping fingers for her to make it.
These babies were made yesterday after noon. I post the yesterday pictures at Foodography segment. Since we have so many leftovers of the cupcakes, we ate it as breakfast too with hot coffee or tea. My Opung (Bataknese way to call Grandma) liked it very much. She dipped it to her coffee milk.
If I compare the steamed cupcakes and the american version one, I feel a bit sad. I don’t know why. The steamed cupcakes that we, Indonesian, familiar with from ages are a twisted version from chinese influence. They make these rice flour based steamed deserts that can rise, have fluffy texture but still slightly sticky that makes them yummy.
If I eat the basic original recipe from Oma (Indo-Chinese way to call your Nana), It taste like a very very moist velvety cupcake but without grease taste left behind your tongue.
Steamed cupcake plays important role during my childhood. Growing as a daughter of a very popular midwives, my mom always busy with her patients and delivering babies. So she will adjust everything due to her endless activities. Including my lunch boxes.
Me and my brother very seldom brought rice and side dish to school. Usually my mom bought cakes, breads or other type of heavy and filling traditional snacks.
Steamed cupcakes was one of them. The original rice flour based ones though.
Like I said before, there was this one Oma near my house that sell traditional Indo-Chinese cakes. Most of them were made from rice flour, some of them sweet and some of them savory.
My mom always said, I can’t pick the savory ones. She was afraid that we will accidentally eat pork substance, that weren’t allowed for us.
My mom also forbid us picking the cupcakes in different color than green or chocolate. Why?
Because she didn’t want us to digest too much food color additives.
The green cupcakes were used pandanus leave juice, so it’s organic and fragrant too. While the chocolate ones didn’t use any chocolate, it’s too expensive back than. Oma use palm sugar or Javanese brown sugar that gives the cupcakes light chocolate color and amazing sweet-coconutty aroma, also a hint of savory behind the sweetness.
Oh by the way, we didn’t call them “Kue Mangkok” (a Bahasa translation for cupcake-with chinese slang). When we want the green cupcake we ask Oma “May we have the Apem Pandan?”and for the chocolate one, “Öma, we want Apem Gula Merah please!”
Nowadays the term of Kue Mangkok or Kue Mangkuk much more popular than Apem. When regular flour become more accessible, our Kue Mangkok begins to evolve like the one my mom’s made.
A bitter-sweet memories for me from fluffy sweet breakfast.
When I compare these steamed cupcakes with the American ones, it almost make me feel guilty. The steamed cupcake I’m sure much healthier since didn’t use any butter at all and the amount of sugar are less because there weren’t any icing or chocolate chips or sprinkles, etc. But they seemed like a step cousin from village came up to the city and meet this vibrant-bold personality.
The step cousin is the steamed cupcakes, while the vibrant and bold personality is the American cupcakes. I fond those step cousin, with their honest appearance and light-sweet no fuss taste. But I can’t help to fall in love with the bold personality. Heavy fruit or chocolate or vanilla or coconut flavors, vibrant color. The bling-bling condiments on top of the icing and good smooth buttery cake.
My heart torn in two!