Friday, January 7, 2011

Honeycomb Cake or Ant's Nest Cake eller Kuih Sarang Semut

Singlish Swenglish Honeycombcake

Evelyn/Sylvia - Tadah!

Finally made this tonight after seeing pictures of the wonderful cake done by Evelyn on Facebook. I first tried making it 4 years ago I think, it didn't turn out that great and was too dry. However this is a cake I will always get a slice of when I go in those more traditional bakery in Singapore. I didn't know it was call Ant's nest but Johan (who tasted it and liked it) said he can see why it was called that.

cross section showing honeycomb or ant's nest
Cross section showing the honeycomb/ant's nest

Contrary to it's name, the cake doesn't taste anything close to honey but instead it's more caramelish. It's a good feeling to see the caramel syrup come together finally, but the process is to be respected - first don't stir the sugar in the pot until all has melted and you have the thick brown syrup. Second, use a long wooden spoon if you can and add the water with caution and stand a bit far away when you do that because you will see the caramel first harden, then a little volcano threatens to erupt right there on your stove - don't panic! Be patient and keep stirring. I reckon it took me about 20-30 minutes at least for the whole process but I forgot to look at the time when I'm wary of the potential disaster that might happen. Third, is probably, melt the butter before you add in to the caramel or dough mix, it will prevent those little islands of butter you see floating in my batter. It still worked out as you see, but learn from my experience :)

And the recipe comes with full credit to Evelyn's friend. I discovered a Youtube Video on this process after I finished baking it, so maybe you can watch it first before you try, the measurements are similar but I think the use of baking powder is better than just using baking soda.

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
6 whole eggs
6 tablespoon butter or margarine - room temperature or melted
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate
1 teaspoon baking powder
half tin of condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla essence or 1 vanilla pod

  1. Caramelize the sugar and when you have achieve the brown syrup stage, add the 2 cups water carefully. Bring to boil and continue stirring until caramel dissolves and let it cool. You can add the vanilla pod at that stage if using.

    Singlish Swenglish Kuih Sarang Semut
    Singlish Swenglish Ant's nest cake

    Singlish Swenglish Honeycombcake
  2. Preheat oven 175°C and whisk the eggs until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the butter, condensed milk (and vanilla essence if using) and mix well before adding the sifted mixture of flour, baking powder and bicarbonate soda.
  4. Pour in the caramel syrup while the mixer is running on low and incorporate it completely.
  5. Butter the pan (I used quite a high, squarish one used for making kueh lapis) and pour in the batter and let it stand for five minutes before putting in the oven to bake for 40-60 minutes or until the center is set when you test with a skewer. This may vary accordingly to the pan and oven you use.

Singlish Swenglish Kuih Sarang Semut
Singlish Swenglish Ant's nest cake

Singlish Swenglish Kuih Sarang Semut


  1. Hi, can I substitute the condensed milk with pure milk? Thanks.

  2. hej Beverly,

    I wouldn't suggest it though I have not tried it, reason being condensed milk is very sweet and thick while milk will make the batter too watery and not sweet at all. Even when you used condensed milk, the batter is quite liquid but if you have problems finding condensed milk, you might like to try Wikipedia's suggestion on processing evaporated milk or milk with sugar added.