Banh Bo Nuong (Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake)

By: MeganPosted: 01/07/2022 Updated: 01/12/2023
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour 10 minutes
Banh bo nuong is a fun, chewy, pandan and coconut flavored cake. This classic Vietnamese honeycomb cake with a brilliantly green honeycomb texture and a golden brown crust will be an instant hit.
Banh Bo Nuong (Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake)

Banh bo nuong is a fun, chewy, pandan, and coconut-flavored cake. This classic Vietnamese honeycomb cake with a brilliantly green honeycomb texture and a golden-brown crust will be an instant hit.

Up close of two slices of vietnamese honeycomb cake on a small plate.

Banh bo nuong or Vietnamese honeycomb cake has major main character energy. This honeycomb cake has a rich pandan and coconut flavor with a signature bright green honeycomb sponge-like texture. The unique striations in the crumb create a bouncy and airy texture that cannot be found in any other cake.

This lightly sweet, chewy honeycomb cake pairs perfectly with a cup of tea and will instantly add some positive vibes to your day. If you are looking for more Vietnamese dessert inspiration, check out my pandan waffles, che thai, banh bo hap, and che ba mau (tri-color dessert)!

Looking down at a tray with a sliced banh bo nuong pandan cake.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This banh bo nuong is brilliantly green, packed with delicious coconut and pandan flavor, and has a beautiful honeycomb chewy texture.
  • You can make this tricky Vietnamese honeycomb cake by following the step-by-step instructions which include photos and tips and tricks for success.
  • This honeycomb cake will instantly impress your friends and family and you will level up your baking skills!
Up close of a a slice of banh bo nuong cake on a platter.

Kitchen Equipment

You will only need a few basic types of kitchen equipment to make this Vietnamese honeycomb cake.

  • Kitchen Scale: a kitchen scale is ESSENTIAL for this cake to rise. You need very precise measurements and a liquid-to-flour ratio for the honeycomb structure. Only a kitchen scale will give you accurate measurements.
  • Blender: if you are using fresh pandan leaves, you will need a blender to blend the pandan leaves to create the pandan puree.
  • Cheesecloth: if you are using fresh pandan leaves, you will need a cheesecloth or tea towel to wring out the pandan puree. Note that the pandan may stain your cloth.
  • Fine Mesh Sieve: you will need a fine-mesh sieve to sift your eggs, dry ingredients, and pandan cake batter.
  • Large Mixing Bowls: you will need a couple of large mixing bowls to mix your wet ingredients and dry ingredients in.
  • Whisk: you will need a whisk to combine all the ingredients.
  • Bundt Cake Pan: this recipe will yield enough batter for a 10-inch 12-cup bundt cake pan. Make sure you use a bundt cake pan with a simple design so you can easily remove the cake from the pan. You can also use a regular 10-inch cake pan as well.

Ingredients

All of the ingredients for this banh bo nuong recipe can be found at your local Asian or Vietnamese grocery market or online!

  • Pandan Leaves: no extract can mimic the flavor of real pandan leaves. You can find pandan leaves in the frozen section of an Asian grocery market.
  • Pandan Extract: adds additional pandan flavoring and acts as food coloring as well. My go-to pandan extract is Butterfly Pandan Extract.
  • Coconut Milk: this is one of the main flavors of the cake. I cannot stress this enough—use high-quality coconut milk. I recommend Chef’s Choice for the best flavor and texture.
  • Coconut Oil: adds additional coconut flavor and moisture to the honeycomb cake.
  • Heavy Cream: balances out the strong coconut milk flavor and adds a delicious creamy element.
  • Granulated Sugar: the main sweetener of the cake.
  • Salt: to bring out the coconut milk and pandan flavors
  • Large Eggs: use room temperature eggs for an even rise.
  • Tapioca Starch: the base flour ingredient for this honeycomb cake. It creates that chewy, bouncy texture we all love. My mom swears by Buddha brand tapioca starch which is the one I used for this banh bo nuong recipe.
  • Rice Flour: rice flour assists by creating a stickier, thickening consistency that binds the cake structure together.
  • Single Acting Baking Powder: this is a key ingredient for the honeycomb structure. Single-acting baking powder is activated immediately when it reacts with liquid vs. double-acting baking powder requires both moisture and heat to react. Double-acting baking powder has the potential to collapse your cake. I recommend using Dr. Oetker baking powder.
All of the ingredients for banh bo nuong on a countertop.

Substitutions and Additions

This Vietnamese honeycomb cake recipe is very technical and requires precise ratios for the honeycomb structure to rise so there are very limited substitutions for this honeycomb cake.

  • Palm sugar: for a more traditional banh bo nuong with more flavor, you can gently melt palm sugar into coconut milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  • Pandan Extract: if you do not have access to real pandan leaves, you can use 1 teaspoon of pandan extract + 300 ml of coconut milk (instead of 200 ml).
  • Oil: I used coconut oil for an added coconut flavor, but you can also use unsalted butter or vegetable oil instead.

How to Make Banh Bo Nuong

I am not going to lie. Making banh bo nuong is no easy feat. It took me several tries before I was able to perfect the honeycomb striations. I recommend reading the steps through before you begin.

  1. Prepare the pan and oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C. Then, place your bundt pan in the center of the oven to heat up for at least 15 minutes.
  1. Make pandan puree. Add water and the clean pandan leaves into a blender. Blend until the leaves are pulverized. Strain and press the pandan puree over a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup. It should measure out to exactly 100 ml. If it needs more liquid, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of coconut milk.
  1. Mix wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, add the pandan puree, coconut milk, heavy cream, pandan extract, sugar, and salt. Mix until well combined and the sugar has dissolved.
Mixing the wet ingredients for vietnamese honeycomb cake.
  1. Strain the eggs. Strain the eggs over a fine-mesh sieve into the wet ingredient mixing bowl. Discard the remaining liquid membrane. Mix until just combined.
Straining the eggs through a fine-mesh sieve into the cake batter.
  1. Sift dry ingredients. In another mixing bowl, sift together the tapioca flour, rice flour, and baking powder. Whisk until combined.
  1. Combine. While gently whisking, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. Mix until mostly combined.
Combining the wet and dry ingredients for honeycomb cake in a large bowl.
  1. Strain. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl while still whisking to mix in and remove the remaining clumps.
Pushing the the batter through the fine-mesh sieve to get all the batter.
  1. Add coconut oil and rest. Add the coconut oil and mix until combined. Then let the batter sit for about 5 minutes.
  1. Bake. Working quickly, coat just the bottom of the pan with butter. Mix up the batter again and gently pour it into the greased cake pan. Bake at 350°F or 176°C for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick dipped in the center comes out clean and the top is lightly browned.
  1. Rest the cake. Then let the cake rest in the oven with the door cracked open for an additional 15 minutes.

Tips for the Best Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake

  • Use single-acting baking powder. Single-acting powder activates immediately when wet. Double-acting requires both moisture and heat. Most baking powders are double baking powders which will not work with this recipe. The cake will rise and immediately fall flat. I recommend using Dr. Oetker baking powder or Alsa baking powder.
  • Pass the egg through a fine-mesh sieve. This is an important step since the eggs are vital to the rise of the cake. You want to incorporate the eggs without adding too many air bubbles and sifting it will help you do that. Discard the remaining thick membrane for a smooth batter free of air bubbles.
  • Pass the batter through a fine-mesh sieve. This will ensure that there are no clumps in the batter and prevent you from overmixing and putting too many air bubbles in the batter which will inhibit the cake structure from rising evenly.
  • Chose a simple bundt pan. When choosing a bundt pan, select one with a simple design. This will make removing the honeycomb cake much easier.
  • Only lightly grease the bottom of the pan. On my first try, I got oil happy and overly greased the pan. This led to my cake not rising and looking like a gloopy mess. Only lightly grease the bottom of the pan and not the edges. Greasing the edges will prevent the cake from rising properly.

Storage Instructions

This Vietnamese honeycomb cake will begin to dry out within an hour. You can store any leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container on your counter for up to 24 hours.

Frequently Asked Q’s and A’s

What is Pandan?

Pandan is a tropical plant that has fragrant leaves which are widely used for flavoring cuisines of Southeast Asia and South Asia. Pandan leaves are naturally sweet and have a soft aroma. It has grassy vanilla with a hint of coconut flavor. It is commonly paired with coconut in most Southeast Asian desserts.

You can find pandan in most Asian markets either fresh or frozen. The leaves are normally about 12-20 inches long depending on the variety.

What is banh bo nuong?


Banh bo nuong also known as Vietnamese honeycomb cake is a chewy pandan and coconut-flavored Vietnamese dessert that has a beautiful honeycomb internal cake structure. They are commonly sold in Vietnamese bakeries and banh mi shops.

Can I make banh bo nuong without pandan leaves?


Yes, you can! If you do not have access to fresh pandan leaves you can use you can use 1/2 teaspoon of pandan extract + 300 ml of coconut milk (instead of 200 ml).

Can I use double-acting baking powder instead?


I personally have not tried using regular double-acting baking powder, but I have seen many banh bo nuong recipes that use them and are a success. The only difference I see with those recipes is that the batter needs about 10-30 minutes of rest time before you pour the batter into the pan to bake.

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Recipe

Up close of two slices of vietnamese honeycomb cake.

Banh Bo Nuong (Vietnamese Honeycomb Cake)

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Banh bo nuong is a fun, chewy, pandan and coconut flavored cake. This classic Vietnamese honeycomb cake with a brilliantly green honeycomb texture and a golden brown crust will be an instant hit.
Servings: 1 10 inch bundt cake
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Pandan Puree

  • 100 ml water
  • 10 pandan leaves washed

Honeycomb Cake

Instructions

  • Prepare the pan and oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C. Then, place your bundt pan in the center of the oven to heat up for at least 15 minutes.
  • Make pandan puree. Add water and the clean pandan leaves into a blender. Blend until the leaves are pulverized. Strain and press the pandan puree over a fine mesh sieve into a measuring cup. It should measure out to exactly 100 ml. If it needs more liquid, add 1-2 additional tablespoons of coconut milk. Set aside.
  • Mix wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, add the pandan puree, coconut milk, heavy cream, pandan extract, sugar and salt. Mix until well combined and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Strain the eggs. Strain the eggs over a fine mesh sieve into the wet ingredient mixing bowl. This will break up the yolk without adding too much air into the eggs. Discard the remaining liquid membrane. Mix until just combined.
  • Sift dry ingredients. In another mixing bowl, sift together the tapioca flour, rice flour and baking powder. Whisk until combined.
  • Combine. While gently whisking, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. Mix until mostly combined. There may be a lot of clumps at this stage.
  • Strain. Slowly strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl while still whisking to mix in and remove the remaining clumps. You may need to do this in batches to evenly whisk out all the clumps.
  • Add coconut oil and rest. Add the coconut oil and mix until combined. Then let the batter sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Bake. Working quickly, coat just the bottom of the pan with butter. Avoid buttering the edges of the pan or the cake will not rise properly. Mix up the batter again and gently pour it in the greased cake pan. Bake at 350°F or 176°C for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick dipped in the center comes out clean and the top is lightly browned.
  • Rest the cake. Then let the cake rest in the oven with the door cracked open for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the bundt pan and let it completely cool the cake on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Use single-acting baking powder. Single-acting powder activates immediately when wet. Double-acting requires both moisture and heat. Most baking powders are double baking powders which will not work with this recipe. The cake will rise and immediately fall flat. I recommend using Alsa baking powder or Dr. Oetker baking powder.
  • Pass the egg through a fine-mesh sieve. This is an important step since the eggs are vital to the rise of the cake. You want to incorporate the eggs without adding too many air bubbles and sifting it will help you do that. Discard the remaining thick membrane for a smooth batter free of air bubbles.
  • Pass the batter through a fine-mesh sieve. This will ensure that there are no clumps in the batter, preventing you from overmixing and putting too many air bubbles in the batter which will inhibit the cake structure from rising evenly.
  • Chose a simple bundt pan. When choosing a bundt pan, select one with a simple design. This will make removing the honeycomb cake much easier.
  • Only lightly grease the bottom of the pan. On my first try, I got oil happy and overly greased the pan. This led to my cake not rising and looking like a gloopy mess. Only lightly grease the bottom of the pan and not the edges. Greasing the edges will prevent the cake from rising properly.

Nutrition:

Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 479mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 314IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    I looked at many recipes before trying this for the first time. I did your pandan substitute because my defrosted pandan leaves smelled too fishy so I didn’t use them. I tried out a technique elsewhere to flip the cake while cooling in case the cake sinks, but forgot that oiling the bottom helped it slide out instead. It had the honeycomb pattern throughout still. I made this to share with Filipino and Vietnamese families. They all loved it and wanted the recipe. I served it with a coconut sauce with added pandan extract to dip. Thank you for this recipe!!