Steamed Pumpkin Cake in the Style of Thai Khanom Tan (ขนมตาล)

Makes enough batter to steam in six 8-ounce ramekins


20g rice flour (use this type of rice flour for best results)

4g active dry yeast

2g sugar

34g lukewarm water


One 14-ounce can (400 mL) coconut milk, lukewarm

30g plain vegetable oil

128g sugar

210g rice flour

100g pumpkin or squash purée

2g active dry yeast

2g salt

4g baking soda


40g of grated coconut meat (this type that comes frozen is best; I grated my own using a bunny.)

Combine the starter ingredients together in a large mixing bowl; let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes, uncovered, in a warm place.

Once the starter is bubbly, whisk in the batter ingredients, except baking soda.

Cover the mixing bowl with a piece of plastic wrap. Let the mixture rise in a warm place for 4-5 hours. You know the batter is ready when it has doubled in volume and is bubbly. Alternatively, the batter can be left to rise, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

While waiting for the batter to rise, prepare your steaming vessels of choice. You can do what I did here which is lining six 8-ounce ramekins each with one 5-inch round of banana leaf, making 3-4 pleats to make the banana leaf rounds fit into the ramekin bottoms more easily. I usually do this, because I love the tea-like scent that steamed banana leaves impart to the cake, but you can simply grease the ramekins with oil or butter and steam the batter right in them without the banana leaf cups.

Once the batter is ready, prepare the steamer. We want the water to boil furiously and remain so for the entire duration of the steaming process.

Once the steamer is ready to go, whisk the baking soda into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins, top the cakes with grated coconut, and steam until they pass the toothpick test. The amount of time varies depending on your steamer.

Let the cakes cool before serving.