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Tay ethnic group’s banh peng pha ranks first among VN’s top 100 specialities

In Tay ethnic group language, bánh pẻng phạ or bánh trời (heaven cake) has put Bac Kan on the map as one of the traditional speciality centres of Vietnam.

The cake has been ranked first among the top 100 Vietnam’s specialities by VietKings.

The cake came into being from the province’s Ba Be District, with ingredients including sticky rice, tea, pork fat, sugar and traditional wine (locally known as rượu cuốc lủi,) according to local elderly Nong Thi Luu.

Pẻng phạ cakes of the Tay ethnic group help to make Bac Kan one of Vietnam's speciality centres. Photo danviet.vn

The sticky rice should be of quality and fragrant (locally known as khẩu nua pái). It is ground to become powder which is later mixed with a cup of wine and strong tea, instead of pure water as with others cakes, said Luu, adding that the wine and the tea create the unique characteristics of the cake.

Other steps include: cutting the mentioned wet powder into pieces and shaping it in a round form to put in an oil cooking pan over medium fire until it becomes brown-yellow. Then, putting it into a molasse pot for several minutes.

Tay women making pẻng phạ (heaven cakes) to welcome the New Rice crop. Photo travelmag.vn

The last step is to roll it on a tray with roasted sticky rice powder, Luu said. The completed dish is light and sweet thanks to the molasses, the pungent flavour of wine, harsh and fragrant notes of strong tea, and the buttery taste of sticky rice powder.

“The cake is significant of our Tay ethnic group because it has never been lacked on our altar to worship our ancestors and God at big anniversaries and celebrations like Tet or New Rice crop.

“The Tay people believed that their ancestors and God would enjoy the cake and it will bring luck and health for them all year round,” Luu said.

Different from makers in Ba Be, the birthplace of the cake, Tay people in the province's Cho Don District add gac fruit to their pẻng phạ cake, which gives it a beautiful colour and buttery taste. Photo travelmag.vn

Different from Luu in Ba Be District, Hoang Thi Vuong in Bac Can’s Cho Don District, adds gac (Momordica cochinchinensis or gấc fruit) to make bánh pẻng phạ and calls it bánh trời gấc (Sun gấc cake).

“My gac trees a lot of fruits so I try to add the fruit as an additional ingredient to make the cake. First I thought to make the cake more colourfull but when my family members try it, they said it is more tasty, fragrant, tough and soft. Children and elderly like it so much,” Vuong said.

She said however that to have a tasty bánh gấc trời, she has to choose glutinous gac fruit which contains much nutrition, deep red colour and more greasy.

The process of making the Sun gac cake is nearly the same as the Sun cake made by Ba Be cookers but most important technique is how to fry it over medium fire until it becomes crispy enough.

Visitors to Bac Kan like to purchase pẻng phạ cakes as a special gift to their relatives and friends. Photo danviet.vn 

Vuong has won a success with her cake, which as sold well not only in Bac Can, but also in other cities and provinces like Hanoi, Hai Duong, Phu Tho, Khanh Hoa, Binh Phuoc and many others.

An official from the Bac Kan Centre for Tourism Promotion said the cake is not only a traditional dish of the Tay people but also a speciality of visitors and travellers to the province.

“People who do not have a chance to visit Bac Kan but wish to try the cake can order it online via FB and Zalo,” he said, noting that many guests told him that they would never forget the special characteristics of the cake.

Source: Vietnam News

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