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Kuih Kapit, Where Did It Come From and How to Make It?

Posted by Jason Wong On January - 10 - 2014 |

Kuih Kapit, Kueh Kapit or Kuih Belanda which they are fondly called in Malaysia is a type of festive food that are traditionally made with simple ingredients of sugar, flour, eggs, fresh coconut milk and lots of love and hard work  to usher the Chinese Lunar New Year. It is one of the must have in our family, but after the passing of my late mother some 10 years ago, we no longer make our ones. “It is not about the destination, but the journey”, the preparing and making of the kuih kapit is often a family affair where you could see whole families pitching in to do whatever they can from preparing the liquid batter to baking to fold and to canning the festive delicacy. Children normally have the most fun, they would always stay glued to the sides like scavengers waiting for the sweet, creamy and eggy fragrant rejects.

Where did kuih kapit come from? Did the Chinese migrants back then during the 14th century already started using metal moulds for baking? But during that time, the European or Western world has already begun using metal utensils for baking. The Kuih Kapit shares similarity with the medieval Dutch wafers that are made with the similar method and utensil used to make kuih kapit over open flame ovens or stoves. The Dutch invented the waffle iron that consisted of two hinged iron plates attached to two long wooden handles to prevent the burning of hands in the 13th century. 

Dutch in Bahasa Malaysia is Belanda, thus the name Kuih Belanda. Many biscuit making and cake baking techniques were exported into various Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesian through conquests and travels to these countries since the 14th century by the Dutch and Portuguese. Which were then assimilated into the Peranakans and Nyonyas  cooking and baking practices, and now it has become one of the must have snacks or delicacies for celebrating Chinese New Year.

Kuih Kapit Recipe/Ingredients:

  • Sugar (granulated) – 300gm.
  • Rice flour – 250gm.
  • Tapioca flour – 2 tablespoon.
  • Whole egg (as fresh as possible) – 10.
  • Coconut milk a.k.a Santan (fresh) – 400ml.
  • Lots of patience and love.

Utensils/Tools:

  • Kuih kapit moulds.
  • Charcoal grill.
  • Charcoal.
  • Water and spray can to keep the heat at a desired temperature.
  • Some damping rags for oiling.
  • Ladle and pot.
  • Flat surface chopping board for folding the wafers.
  • Flat surface biscuit or milk powder tin cover.
  • Airtight empty bottle or milk powder tin can for storing the already cooled wafers.

Method:

  1. First sieve the dry ingredients of rice flour and tapioca to make sure there are fine.
  2. Combine sugar and the sieved flours, and mixed thoroughly.
  3. Add in the already lightly beaten eggs and coconut milk, and stir until sugar is dissolved and all the ingredients are combined.
  4. Start the charcoal fire and let it flame down until the charcoal is smoulder red without visible flames (medium/moderate consistent heat). 
  5. Heat up the kuih kapit moulds over the hot charcoal, then lightly damps/grease it with oil.
  6. When the moulds are hot enough, ladle a scoop of batter onto one side of the mould, coating it thinly while allowing the excess to flow back into the pot then snap it shut.
  7. Place the filled/coated mould on the grill and baked until half cooked, then run a knife (butter knife will do) around the edges of the mould to get rid of the excess before flipping and returning the uncooked side to the grill.
  8. The kuih kapit is ready when the wafer turns light beige brown in colour with a firm yet flexible texture. It is time to remove it from the mould by peeling it away and immediately folding it in half, then into another half again (should resemble an open fan). Use the flat surface cover of a biscuit or milk powder tin to flatten the wafer, preferably with some force or weight. 
  9. Let the folded wafer cools down before storing into the bottle or tin can to prevent the wafers from getting stale and un-crisp.

Tips:

  • The coconut used to press for the coconut milk/santan should not be too old. Old one will too much fat content and thus the kuih kapit cannot last long in storage and will turn stale faster.
  • Don’t use too much or too little batter as it will affect the texture of the wafers.
  • You may thin the batter, if the viscosity is high or thick, with some water. Do not use too much water as it will affect the taste.
  • Maintain a consistent heat, use the water spray can to cool down the heat or extinguish the flaming flame. Burning the wafers will result in a bitter after taste.
  • The best kuih kapit is the one which is fluffy crispy, rich, creamy, eggy and not too sweet.
  • Drink a lot of water to maintain your body temperature internally and externally.

Other than the traditional fan shape kuih kapit, there is a more exotic variety which has crisp, sweet and savoury meat floss filled and rolled in it. Rather than just simply folding the thin wafer into a quarter, it is filled with a small heap of meat floss in the centre and then rolled into a cylindrical shape where both ends are closed up.

Making kuih kapit is communal and time consuming activity where everyone in the family pitches in to help, but with the increasing demand for time to be placed on earning a living and the migration of family members to another region. It has become difficult to find or see families carrying on the tradition of homemade kuih kapit. And that is why some families have turned this communal activity into a cottage industry where families are brought up around the flames of the charcoal grill with the sweet fragrance of baking wafers and the sound the metal sound mould clinking against each other. One such place is the one we visited back in the year 2009, Eng Seng Penang Kuih Kapit in Gat Lebuh Presgrave. They do not only make this festive wafer delicacy for Chinese Lunar New Year, but the whole year round from their rented place. They produce both the traditional fan shape wafers and the variety with meat floss in it, each bottle of the traditional version is priced at RM25.00 and the more exotic meat floss version at RM30.00 per bottle. Their kuih kapit is said to have a shelf-life of two and a half (2 1/2) months. For bookings or orders, you are welcome to call them at o4-261 4419 or visit them at 30, Gat Lebuh Presgrave, 10300 Penang.

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3 Responses to “Kuih Kapit, Where Did It Come From and How to Make It?”

  1. Danial says:

    This is interesting posting.
    I didnt know that making kuih kapit is not easy.
    Danial´s last blog post ..Halal Chicken Rice Ball at Ee Ji Ban, Melaka Raya, Malacca

    [Reply]

    Jason Wong Reply:

    Danial,

    I used to help in the making process when I was still in my teenage years. It is hot and hard work, the fun part is the getting together and having fresh kuih kapit. I do miss those days.

    [Reply]

  2. Kimberley says:

    Hi Jason,

    I would like to purchase one of your photos from above. Could you please email me at kimberley@suraet.com?

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

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