How to: Banh Bong Lan (Vanilla Sponge Cake)

Hey Nibblers!

       On Friday, my amazing mum turned 50! She’s my inspiration when it comes to cooking. She loves to experiment and always tries to perfect her recipe if she makes the tiniest mistake. She mostly cooks Vietnamese cuisine as that’s our background which is great because that way, I’ve learnt to cook some traditional dishes myself. One of her favourite cakes is the ‘Vanilla Sponge Cake’ or in Vietnamese translation, ‘Banh Bong Lan.’ She makes it almost every other week to give to my relatives and is always telling me to learn to make it. I didn’t. But, it’s only because I wanted to surprise her on her birthday!

I took it a step further and decorated the cake in one of her other favorite desserts, profiteroles (I’ll be sure to post a recipe for these in the future) and had nuts covered on the side. It didn’t turn out as symmetrical and neat as I wanted it to. But, the taste was all there. And, she was surprised so win-win situation. I was also time constricted as I had to rush home from work and only had 2hr 1/2min to do the ‘banh bong lan’ component, the icing for the nuts to stick, the custard, the melting of chocolate and profiteroles casing. My dedication to finish in time override my hunger so, I even skipped dinner.

Mum’s cake with the ‘Banh Bong Lan’ sponge bottom

The popularity surrounding ‘Banh Bong Lanh’ lies in how light and fluffy the sponge is. It’s all in the technique and so, I failed with Mum’s cake last night. The flavours were all there and it did rise a fair amount but, the oil in the batter did not mix in well so, it had a thick layer of thick cake when I cut the cake open. Mum said it took her a couple of tries to make it perfect but, it all comes down to technique/patience. So, since I sort of failed, I re-did it this morning with Mum’s supervision but, in muffin form because it’s less cooking time. The cake version has the exact same recipe just in a different tin.
So, let’s break it down and take it one step at a time.

How to: Banh Bong Lan (Vanilla Sponge Cake)

What you need: 

6 eggs
– 140g of white sugar (doesn’t need to be caster)
– 180g of self- raising flour
– 1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar
– 1 Tbs. Vanilla extract or 1/2 Tbs. vanilla sugar
– 90ml of canola oil
– 90ml of milk
Note: This makes one standard round cake tin, standard bundt tin or 12 large muffins
  P.s. For muffin form, it’s best to use muffin paper (cafe styled) so these babies have space to rise. You can find these papers pre-fold at local supermarkets or simply cut squares out of some baking paper and folding them to make four edges to fit in a standard muffin tin.
For large cake form pre-heat oven to 160 degrees celcius and bake for 45-50min
For muffin form pre-heat oven to 180 degrees and bake for 20min

How to: (Pictures below show this recipe but doubled in quantity as Mum wanted me to make 24 muffins)

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
2. Separate egg whites in a medium mixing bowl and egg yolks in another
3. Beat egg whites on high using an electric mixer for 30 seconds before adding 2/3 of the sugar into the bowl.
4. Continue to beat until egg whites for about 7 mins or until the egg peaks are able to hold their shape

Beating egg whites on high
Until they form peaks/ hold their shape

5. Add vanilla, cream of tartar, the rest of the sugar to egg yolk and beat using the same electric beater on high for about 5 mins or until mixture turns from the deep orange to a light yellow/beige colour

From bright orange yolk to yellow/ beige in colour

6. Add oil and milk into a large mixing bowl

Oil and milk in a large bowl

7. Transfer egg yolk mixture into large mixing bowl filled with oil and milk
8. Fold egg yolk mixture, oil and milk
Note: Try and fold/ separate as much oil as you can throughout the mixture. Most of it won’t disappear until you the rest of the ingredients so, don’t stress
9. Add a large ladle full of the egg whites into the large mixing bowl spreading it evenly across the surface and then using a wooden spatula, fold it a couple of times

Ladle dollop of egg whites

10. Sift a thin layer of the flour into the mixture, spreading it evenly across the surface (To prevent lumps in mixture) and then folding it in a couple of times
Note: Oil may have sunken to the bottom of the bowl so be sure to scoop and fold to make sure there’s no oily bits left (it’ll leave a thick layer of dough looking bit in your cake). If you see a patch of oil add some flour and keep folding/scooping the area to spread the oil. It’ll take time so keep adding flour/ egg whites while taking care of those nasty oil blobs.

Using a normal sift or one like this can help your arm tire less. It also distributes even amounts of flour and allows for flour dispensing direction control

11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 until all the egg whites and flour has been well combined.
 Note: It is a long process but the end results are worth it. Be sure to fold gently to minimise the loss of air from the mixture
The end mixture should be the texture between say Ski yoghurt you find in supermarkets and greek yogurt sold at health food stores. The super runny bits, may indicate oil has not yet been combined well.

Mixture well combined

12. Scoop mixture in a measuring jug to make it easier to pop into muffin tins

Makes it easier to pour mixture in evenly

13. Pour mixture to the brim of muffin casings
13. Pop into pre-heated oven for 20 minutes

Beautifully risen at 16 minutes
3 minutes in

14. Let them cool for about 5 minutes and serve

They’ll rise a lot in the oven but as they cool, the deflate a cm or so
Ready to eat!
Success! Light, fluffy and delicious
Happy Birthday Mum! ❤

We’ve just come back from Mum’s birthday dinner at ‘Criniti’s’ Darling Harbour which I’ll be doing a review on soon. ‘Vivid’ Sydney is also in full swing at the moment so it was a great post-dinner activity. ‘Vivid’ is a light, music and ideas festival running from 24th of May to the 10th of June. So, if you find yourself in the city/ Circular Quay side have a look around.

Snap shot from Vivid Sydney

Hope you all have an amazing week.

Nibble away,
Jo x.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much for a well discribe recipe. I can say that the outcome of my baking was good and they looks nice. Thank you again. Alx


  2. I really appreciate your feedback and lovely to hear you tried out the recipe as well. I'm glad it turned out amazing for you as it took me a couple of turns to master the oil mixing component. Great job! Jo x.


  3. donna le says:

    Hi I never tried this recipe before, I wonder if you know if this works better than having the dry ingredients mixed in with egg yolks before adding meringue?


  4. Jo Nibble says:

    Hi Donna,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! This recipe is a staple in my house and I have tried both ways.
    I feel the cake is much fluffier if you slowly add the egg whites and dry ingredients slowly into the egg yolks. The only problem with this method is you need to have patience and ensure there are no oily streaks left in the cake batter.
    The method of mixing dry ingredients with the egg yolks before adding meringue saves more time except the batter can be too dense and over powers the egg whites. This leaves a denser batter and therefore does not produce a bun quite as soft.
    I hope this helps in some way – let me know how you go. I would love to know an answer too 🙂


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