Prawn cake

Posted on June 24, 2009. Filed under: Cakes, Sweets | Tags: , |

Prawn cake is an unusual sounding dish. It is akin to the sweet pork buns of Chinese dim sum menus, a sweet savoury filling is encased in a sweet bread. The Portuguese had trade links with Macau in China as well as in India, and I can see how they influenced both of these dishes.

Preparation time: less than 30 mins

Cooking time: 1 to 2 hours


  • 1 tbsp butter, for greasing
  • For the filling
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1cm/½in piece cinnamon
  • 2 mild dried red chillies
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 300g/10½oz raw prawns, heads and shells removed, de-veined
  • For the batter
  • 100g/3½oz sugar
  • 120g/4½oz butter
  • 3 free-range eggs, beaten, plus one free-range egg yolk, beaten
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 85g/3oz semolina, soaked in 125ml/4fl oz water for 15 minutes
  • 240g/8½ plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 175ml/6fl oz milk
  • 100g/3½oz desiccated coconut
  • lightly dressed green salad, to serve


1. Grease a 20cm/8in cake tin with butter.

2. For the filling, heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown.

3. Meanwhile, blend the garlic cloves and ginger with one tablespoon of water to a smooth paste in a food processor.

4. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the peppercorns, spices and dried chillies to a fine powder.

5. Add the ground spices to the pan and stir well to coat the onion in the spices. Reduce the heat to a low heat and fry the spices for 20-30 seconds.

6. Add the ginger and garlic purée, stir well and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until the raw smell of garlic has disappeared.

7. Add the chopped tomatoes and a splash of water, stir well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the tomatoes have reduced to a pulp. (You can use a potato masher to break the tomatoes down during cooking.)

8. Add the sugar and the white wine vinegar and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

9. Add the prawns and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, or until the prawns have turned pink and have started to curl up. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

10. For the batter, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

11. In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and egg yolk, beating well until each addition has been fully incorporated into the mixture before adding more.

12. Add the remaining batter ingredients and mix until the mixture is well combined and is of a dropping consistency.

13. Spoon half of the batter mixture into the greased cake tin. Spoon the filling mixture on top of the batter and spread it evenly over the batter. Pour over the remaining batter mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the prawn cake.

14. To serve, turn out the prawn cake onto a plate. Cut the prawn cake into ten slices and place each slice onto a serving plate. Place a portion of lightly dressed salad alongside.


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