Molded rice cakes make for a sweet Tet in central Vietnam

By Dac Thanh   January 28, 2021 | 06:59 pm GMT+7
Days before the Lunar New Year, batches of traditional rice cakes are popping from the mold in non-stop thuds echoing across An Lac Village of Quang Nam Province.
An Lac Village households in Duy Thanh Ward of Duy Xuyen District typically make a local specialty called banh in (molded rice cakes) during last days of the lunar year to prepare for Tet, the countrys biggest holiday that peaks on Feb. 12.One can catch the smell of fragrant glutinous rice and mung bean flour from cake houses dotted around the neighborhood.The shop of Huynh Quang Truc, 63, is one of eight in the village that still produce this kind of cakes all year round, with demand particularly high at Tet when banh in is given out as gifts or serves as offerings to ancestors.

An Lac Village households in Duy Thanh Ward of Duy Xuyen District typically make a local specialty called banh in (molded rice cakes) during last days of the lunar year to prepare for Tet, the country's biggest holiday that peaks on Feb. 12.
One can catch the smell of fragrant glutinous rice and mung bean flour from cake houses dotted around the neighborhood.
The shop of Huynh Quang Truc, 63, is one of eight in the village that still produce this kind of cakes all year round, with demand particularly high at Tet when banh in is given out as gifts or serves as offerings to ancestors.

Ingredients include sugar, mung bean and glutinous rice flour, with melted sugar and mixed flour at a 50/50 percent ratio.

Ingredients include sugar, mung bean and glutinous rice flour, with melted sugar and mixed flour at a 50/50 percent ratio.

The cake was manually produced before, with machines only introduced in the past six years. The mixture must be blended well so it could be shaped well, Truc said.

"The cake was manually produced before, with machines only introduced in the past six years. The mixture must be blended well so it could be shaped well," Truc said.

Heavy dough is expertly spread out by 58-year-old Huynh Quang Trung, who often handles between 30 to 200 kilograms each day.Cooking sugar is the most important process. Sugar should not be too watery or dry, otherwise cakes will collapse, said Trung, a man with 30 years of experience making the traditional cake.

Heavy dough is expertly spread out by 58-year-old Huynh Quang Trung, who often handles between 30 to 200 kilograms each day.
"Cooking sugar is the most important process. Sugar should not be too watery or dry, otherwise cakes will collapse," said Trung, a man with 30 years of experience making the traditional cake.

Molds with various floral and character designs are made from a type of light wood so cakes would not crack under pressure.

Molds with various floral and character designs are made from a type of light wood so cakes would not crack under pressure.

Banh in, stamped with festive mold carvings, pops out when lightly tapped with a wooden stick.

Banh in, stamped with festive mold carvings, pops out when lightly tapped with a wooden stick.

Though the process is not complicated, workers must handle the cakes with care, Hung, a cake maker (left), said.

"Though the process is not complicated, workers must handle the cakes with care," Hung, a cake maker (left), said.

Cakes are baked in seven minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.Workers can earn hundreds of thousands of dong (VND100,000 = $4.3) a day during the festive season.

Cakes are baked in seven minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.
Workers can earn hundreds of thousands of dong (VND100,000 = $4.34) a day during the festive season.

Yellow cakes are made of mung bean flour and red sugar. Snow skin ones are made of rice flour and white sugar.

Yellow cakes are made of mung bean flour and red sugar. Snow skin ones are made of rice flour and white sugar.

Packaging the final products.

Packaging the final products.

A small sized package is priced at VND6,000 ($0.3). Bigger cakes are sold at VND34,000 a kilogram for mung bean and VND28,000 a kilogram for sticky rice.

A small sized package is priced at VND6,000 ($0.26). Bigger cakes are sold at VND34,000 a kilogram for mung bean and VND28,000 a kilogram for sticky rice.

Packaged cakes are put in a carton box to be distributed to wholesalers.Banh in originated in Thua Thien-Hue Province under Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), Vietnams last royal family, and has become a specialty of Quang Nam Province and Da Nang City during Tet. The cake tastes better with green tea.

Packaged cakes are put in a carton box to be distributed to wholesalers.
Banh in originated in Thua Thien-Hue Province under Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), Vietnam's last royal family, and has become a specialty of Quang Nam Province and Da Nang City during Tet. The cake tastes better with green tea.

Making banh in. Video by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.

 
 
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