Long cake emits scent of glutinous rice

Published:  23:57 Tuesday - April 02, 2013

Long cake emits scent of glutinous rice

Different from other kinds of glutinous rice cake, Hai Duong’s Long cake has a light flavor, sweet-smelling, buttery and hot taste of puffed glutinous rice, ginger, roasted peanuts and sugar. The product of An Phu and An Sinh upland communes, though not widely known, is unforgettable for those who have tried it.

It takes a lot of time and energy to make Long cake. And the cake can hardly be made by just one person. Before casting in the mould, some ingredients need to be carefully prepared ahead of time. Glutinous rice is puffed and crushed into tiny fines; ginger is scraped, washed, ground and cooked with sugar and boiled water; peanuts are roasted and the skins removed.

Nguyen Thi Van, an An Sinh villager over 70 years old, remembered that her ancestors did not have a machine to make the puffed rice as we do now. They used to roast glutinous rice carefully until fully popped and used a large, flat basket to remove the chaff.

In the past, people didn’t cook with black sugar (unrefined cane sugar), not granulated white sugar as at present. Thus, they had to skim off scum on the surface of the syrup while cooking, and the finished cake used to have black colour.

Boiled ginger syrup is poured into the basin containing mixture of peanuts and crushed puffed rice. All things then have to be stirred continuously and steadily until well kneaded. This step is very difficult but important. If you do not stir steadily and continuously, or if you pour too much or not enough ginger syrup, the mixture will be either dry or pasty, making it difficult to cast. Consequently, the finished cake will be so tough that you can hardly cut it into small pieces without a cleaver.

After that the mixture is cast in a big steel mould, and cake makers have to pestle continuously until the mixture is well kneaded and becomes a solid block. At last, finished cake is removed from the mould, covered with puffed glutinous rice flourfor anti-stickiness, let cool and packed.

Long cake made in An Phu is characterized by ground powder from puffed glutinous rice. Thanks to this fine powder, the Long cake of An Phu village is softer and not as thick as Long cake of An Sinh village. Besides, cake makers here also put in special ingredients, such as: sesame, cardamom, cinnamon bark, star anise, sweetened coconut and sweetened winter melon.

Based on each family’s taste, people can put in more or less ingredients. Thus, it is hard to say which kind of Long cake, An Sinh or An Phu, is better. Long cake can be made at any time of the year, as a simple gift or snack food to offer guests together with a cup of warm tea.

In the past, Long cake in An Sinh and An Phu communes was so popular that there were even cake makers for hire. However, due to the sophistication and elaboration in making this cake, fewer families in An Phu and An Sinh, Kim Mon district, Hai Duong province, still make it now.


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