June 23, 2020

Chinese Sachima Soft Flour Pastry Cake 沙琪瑪

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

With the Dragon Boat Festival 端午節 around the corner, we're already dreaming of those aromatic, meltingly tender bites of savory pork filled zong zi and sweet red bean zong zi.  YUM!  I love festival foods!  This year, in addition to these traditional festival dumplings I decided to try making a personal childhood favorite of mine, the delectable Chinese Sachima Soft Flour Pastry Cake 沙琪瑪 (or 馬仔 as it is known locally in HK), a light, fluffy, tender pastry made of fried dough strips tossed with delicious caramelized syrup, dotted with raisins and roasted sesame seeds, then pressed and cut into delectable squares.  Kinda like a Chinese rice krispie cake in principle but uniquely different and even more delicious!  

I remember that my folks used to go all the way downtown to the Chinese bakery to bring back these treats, packed carefully in a beautiful pink box tied with a red string.  My sisters and I, the three of us, would fight fiercely over the biggest squares of sachima, which my sneaky older sister usually won.  Nowadays my little girl loves it as well and so we decided to make it together, it was so much fun!

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

The secret to this pastry is the deep fried eggy dough.  That sounds heavy and oily but I promise it's not, it's the opposite: light, fluffy and not greasy at all.  I actually never realized that it was a fried dough until I started to research the recipe!  An extra egg yolk is what gives the dough its lovely yellow color.  

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔
Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

The dough is mixed and kneaded and rested.  Then it's time to roll it out thinly in a rectangular shape.  The two sides are folded over so the dough is folded in thirds.  This is done twice to introduce layering into the dough and thus causing the dough to fluff out when fried.

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

Remember to turn the dough perpendicular before rolling out again as in photo above.  This is important!

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

After rolling out twice the dough is folded one last time to make it easier to slice and then a sharp knife is used to cut the dough into thin strips.  Time to heat up the frying oil! 

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

The oil is ready to go when it bubbles up around a chopstick stuck into it.  Carefully slip in three strips of dough.  They will quickly puff up and float to the surface of the oil.  They should be a pale yellow color.  Remove from oil immediately.  The more you cook it the crispier the dough gets so keep the sachima soft and tender by removing it right away.

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

Here's my pile of fried sachima dough, isn't it lovely?  However to be honest I think I over cooked my batch a bit as I waited for the dough to get golden so take my advice and remove the dough when a pale yellow.  If you wait til the dough is golden the end result will be a bit harder then desirable. When all your dough is cooked keep warm in the oven while you make the syrup that will pull everything together.

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔
Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

The syrup is made with sugar, maltose, honey and butter which is then heated until it reaches a firm ball stage where the syrup becomes sticky but pliable.  There are two points to be aware of when making this syrup.   

First point is regarding the maltose.  Maltose 麥芽糖 is thick sugar syrup made from malted rice and barley grains with a honey like texture and a subtle malty sweetness.  Wonderful stuff used in many Chinese desserts and glazes but oh boy is it difficult to get out of the container!  Plus it's crazy sticky!  It is so sticky stiff that you can turn the container over and not worry that the maltose will fall out.  At least not immediately, it would probably take a while, think snail speed.  


To get maltose out you can microwave for 20 secs to heat up to a pourable stage.  Or if you're like us and don't own a microwave you can try this hack: pour a bit of cold boiled water straight into the maltose container.  Use clean fingers and dig out the amount you need, for some weird reason the cold water prevents the maltose from sticking to everything.  Mostly.  Also I would recommend measuring maltose by weight, as getting it into a measuring cup and then out of it again might be a seriously sticky pain in the rear end.

The second point to be aware of is that the trick to working with sugar is to be really strict about checking and keeping to the temperatures specified.  (This means you've got to have a good food thermometer!!)  Don't let the temp go higher than specified or else the sugar will transform into another form altogether which will not be what you want or need.  Use a food thermometer to keep a close eye on the heat.  And maybe remove from heat a bit before reaching the specified temperature and let it finish heating up off the stove.  When almost to the right temperature be sure to have your fried dough, raisins, and sesame seeds at hand and ready to be tossed.

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

Once the syrup has reached the proper temperature immediately pour over the fried dough sticks.  Toss quickly while the syrup is still warm and pliable, covering all the dough sticks evenly with the syrup, sprinkling in the raisins and roasted sesame seeds as you toss.  Don't worry about breaking the strands a bit, that's supposed to happen.  When evenly mixed pour the sticky mess into a square cake pan or even onto a sheet of parchment paper.  Press firmly into shape.  This is some seriously sticky hands on fun!  If you find it sticking to your hands too much just wet your hands a tiny bit.  Remember firmly is the key word here, as firmly pressed sachima will really help pastry keep its shape when cutting.

Once cooled completely, slice the sachima into squares.  It's done!  Your homemade sachima is ready to eat!  Tender, light, fluffy eggy pastry squares coated all over with caramelized delicious stickiness, dotted with sweet chewy raisins and fragrant sesame seeds.  It's absolute finger lick'in yummiliciousness!!! 

Sachima, cake, fried noodles, chinese, dessert, recipe, pastry, 沙琪瑪, 薩琪瑪, 馬仔

Sachima Pastry Cake Recipe 沙琪瑪
(one 8" square cake) (adapted from 幸福應景的中式糕餅點心 by 颜金满 )
Prep time: 20  Rest time: 30 mins  Cook time 20 mins


Dough
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 300g
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, 110g, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp water, 30g

Sugar Syrup
3/4 cups sugar, 150g
5/8 cup maltose, 200g
1/3 cup water, 80g
1 1/2 tbsp honey 30g
1 1/2 tbsp butter, 20g

1/3 cup raisin, 50g
2 1/2 tbsp white or black sesame seeds, 20g

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.  Add in egg, egg yolk and water, then mix until a saggy mass forms.  Add more water 1 tbsp at a time if necessary to just bring the dough together.  Knead until a smooth dough is formed.  Cover and let rest for 30 mins.

Roast the sesame seeds in a pan over low heat, stirring constantly until light brown and aromatic.  Be careful to keep watch and not let seeds burn.  Let cool.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thick rectangular shape.  Dust the rolled out dough lightly with flour.  Fold the two long sides of the dough over so that the dough sheet is folded into thirds.  Turn the dough 90° and repeat the rolling and folding and dusting.  Use a sharp knife to slice the folded dough into 1/4" strips.  Unfold and separate the dough strips.

Heat a large pan or wok with 2" of oil until the oil reaches 284°F (140°C) or until bubbles foam up around a chopstick that you stick in the oil.  Gently drop in 3 strips of dough at a time.  When the dough has risen to the surface turn over and let cook for 3 sec more until pale yellow.  Remove from oil and place on kitchen paper to drain oil.  Repeat until all dough is fried.  Place into a oven turned to 220°F (104°C) to keep warm while making the syrup.

To make the sugar syrup, pour sugar, maltose, water, honey and butter into a deep pot (as the syrup will foam up.)  For the maltose, please see our tips on handling it in the post above.  Heat over medium low heat until the syrup reaches 248°F(120°C).  Don't let the syrup go over this temperature.  Immediately pour onto the fried dough strands and toss until evenly coated, sprinkling in raisins and sesame as you toss.  It's important to do this right as the sugar syrup is at the right temp, as it will be soft and pliable and much more easy to toss.  When the syrup is distributed evenly pour coated dough strips into a parchment lined cake pan or just onto a piece of parchment paper.  Use your hands to pack firmly into the pan or into an 8" square.  

Let cool completely and then use a sharp lightly oiled knife to cut into 2" squares.  These sachima can be stored in air tight container for up to two weeks.  Enjoy!


More Chinese Pastry Delights at The Hong Kong Cookery:






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2 comments:

  1. Whoa! Sachimaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! I love them! I never would have thought you can make these at home! Impressive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, who would've thought it! But it was fun and pretty easy to make. ~ellen

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