When thinking about Indian desserts, a delicately layered cake of crêpes and custard isn't the first thing that springs to mind. But according to Anjum Anand, author of Anjum's New Indian, a bebinca is a classic Goan dessert. Traditionally made up of 16 layers of coconut milk pancakes layered with ghee, Anand lightens it up ever so slightly by replacing the ghee with coconut custard and cutting the number of layers in half.
The custard alone is a thing of beauty made up of milk, cream, coconut milk, lime zest, and chewy flakes of frozen coconut, rich and creamy with lots of summery, tropical flavors. The crêpes are tender and delicately flavored with coconut milk. They might require a few test runs in the nonstick pan, but after that, they brown up perfectly. Once the crêpes are made, they're layered with the coconut custard and topped with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar. Be sure to allow the bebinca to cool completely before slicing so that all of the beautiful layers of custard and crêpes can be seen.
Adapted from Anjum's New Indian. Copyright © 2010. Published by WIley. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
- Yield:6 to 8
- For the Coconut Custard:
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Scant 1 cup coconut milk
- 3 small or 2 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup superfine sugar
- 3/4 tablespoon grated lime or lemon zest
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cups fresh or frozen grated coconut or 1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes
- For the Pancakes:
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons ghee or melted butter
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 3/4 cup milk
- Vegetable oil, for cooking
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
First, make the coconut custard. Heat the milk, cream and coconut milk in a saucepan until just simmering. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks, sugar, zest and cornstarch in a bowl until smooth. Slowly pour the warm milk into the yolk mixture while whisking. Pour the whisked mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat until simmering, then cook for another 2–3 minutes or until it has thickened. Stir in the coconut. Leave to cool.
For the pancakes, whisk together the flour, eggs, sugar, salt and ghee until smooth. Stir in the two milks and leave to stand for 20 minutes. Heat an 7 inch pancake pan, then rub 1/4 teaspoon of oil over the surface with paper towels. Pour about 3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan and swirl so the batter covers the bottom. Cook for about 20 seconds over medium heat, run a spatula around the edge and under and carefully turn over; cook this side for 5–10 seconds or until the underside has a few brown spots.
For the neatest finish, use a 7 inch springform tin or a cake ring. Place one pancake on the bottom, spread with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the custard. Place another pancake on top and repeat until all have been used. Unmold when ready to serve and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
If you wish to serve the pudding warm, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. The top and base will crisp up, which is lovely but harder to slice. Dust with confectioners’ sugar to serve.