I’ve always loved eating my Ama Eme’s cupcake, but she only makes them once a year, on All Soul’s Day. It is believed that the souls share in the simple feast prepared at the tombstone, and that’s why my Ama Eme makes them because it was my Angkong Sekon’s favorite snack. Ama Eme is my Chinese grandma and Angkong Sekon is my late Chinese grandpa.
So how did I learn to cook? When I was around 4 years old, I loved playing with my cooking set, but I got bored easily and wanted to do the real thing. So, I woke up early every morning and went to the dirty kitchen and sat with Nang Merry, my grandparents’ cook from Siaton.
She was not merry at all, especially when she had her monthly period. But instead of shooing me away, she would ask me to help her peel some carrots or potatoes. Other days, she would ask me to stir the pot or wash the dishes. I became her tiny commis chef even before I went to school, and it was much better than playing with my cooking set.
I had my share of cuts and burns but I never cried. I was more scared of not being able to help in the dirty kitchen if my parents or grandparents knew about it. When I finally stopped getting cut or burned, Nang Merry allowed me to cook my very first dish—scrambled eggs! It was salty and crunchy because it had some eggshell pieces in it, but I was so proud of it.
Then, I became ambitious and turned the scrambled eggs into an omelet. The list goes on from there, and this cupcake is just one of those challenging recipes that I had to add to my bucket list.
It’s in the genes
I guess my love for cooking has something to do with my genes, as well. My grandmother hails from the Limquiaco family, where both men and women are good at cooking, love eating or can make dresses. We love to experiment and modify recipes to suit our palates and make much healthier and better options. Cooking brings our family together, and each dish has a history that we can reminisce about.
So, every time I make this cupcake, I am always reminded of the undying love that my Ama Eme has for my Angkong Sekon.
The ingredients are not hard to find, and are probably available in your pantry. The procedure, however, requires a lot of patience and extra effort. I’ve failed several times, especially when it comes to the folding in of the ingredients, but with my Ama Eme’s guidance, I mastered the art of folding in baking.
I hope you enjoy this snack as much as I do, and feel free to experiment and make modifications as my Ama Eme and I did.
Instead of adding almond extract, you could add a different flavor like, orange, vanilla or lemon. If you have a much sweeter tooth than us, then you could increase the sugar. You could also spice things up and make the cupcakes more colorful by adding some food coloring. Or add icing on top.
Have fun and enjoy!
Ama Eme’s Cupcake
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 c refined sugar
1 tsp almond extract (optional)
Prepare the steamer.
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.
Whisk the cream of tartar and egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar and whisk until it forms peaks. Then gradually add the egg yolks and blend carefully.
Fold in the flour mixture slowly but thoroughly. Add the almond extract and blend well.
Pour into lined baking cups and gently tap to remove the air bubbles.
Steam over medium heat for about 10 minutes or when the toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
Remove the cupcakes from the mold and let them cool on a wire rack.
Best served with hot chocolate, coffee or tea.
The author was the host/entertainer of the “Rising Star” local TV show in Dumaguete City. She is now a stay-at-home wife and mom of two boys and one furry baby. Aside from cooking, she is into arts and crafts, playing the ukelele and tending to her plants.
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