Recipe: Honeycomb Cake – Banh Bo Nuong

Banh Bo Nuong - Honeycomb cake

By Helen Le Published: April 2, 2012

  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Ready In: 1 hr 15 mins

  • Yield: 4-6 Servings

This cake is loved for its chewy texture and pleasant aroma of pandan leaves. It tastes completely different from Western soft sponge cakes.

  • In a small saucepan under low heat, dissolve the sugar and salt with the coconut milk. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Grease only the bottom of the baking pan. Preheat oven AND the baking pan to 175°C/ 350°F.
  • Crack 6 eggs in a mixing bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to stir the eggs. Do not beat the eggs or over-stir; just stir enough to homogenize the whites and yolks. The tip of the whisk should always be touching the bottom of the bowl. This is to avoid creating foam.
  • Add the coconut mixture to the egg mixture and give it a few stirs. Sift the starch and baking powder into the mixture. Stir the mixture in one direction until smooth. Add pandan extract and vanilla.
  • Use a strainer to strain the mixture into the heated pan.
  • Place the cake pan right in the middle of the oven. Bake at 175°C/ 350°F for about 45 minutes, until golden. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center of a cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.
  • Let the cake cool upside down on a rack. The cake tastes the best freshly out of the oven. It can be stored for 1-2 days by wrapping in plastic wrap. If you serve it on the next day, microwave for about 15 seconds.

Important notes: Making this cake may sound very easy but it is also very easy to fail. If you don’t follow the measurements and instructions closely, the final product may lack of its honeycomb texture or collapse. Please strictly follow these guidelines to avoid failure:
– Do NOT use double-acting baking powder, only single-acting works. Difference: Single-acting works once when it gets wet. Double-acting works twice: first when it touches a liquid and then again when it is heated.
– Grease only the bottom of the baking pan. (The sides of the baking pan give the cake some support when it rises.)
– The baking pan needs to be well preheated in the oven before adding the batter.
– Only stir the batter in one direction. Do not over-stir the batter.
– Pour the batter into the preheated baking pan through a mesh strainer. This helps the honeycomb texture to develop and remove the lumps.
– Place the cake pan in the middle of the oven where the heat is centered. This helps the cake to rise and bake evenly.
– The time may vary a bit depending on the mold and the oven. However, do NOT open the oven during the first 30 mins of baking.
– In order to prevent the cake from collapsing, let it cool UPSIDE DOWN on rack.

Post By Helen Le (313 Posts)

Since 2011 Helen has shared her Vietnamese home cooking video recipes on Youtube, helping viewers cook Vietnamese Food in the easiest, fastest and most authentic way possible. Subscribe to receive her newest videos for FREE:

Website: → Danang Cuisine


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12 comments on “Recipe: Honeycomb Cake – Banh Bo Nuong


Hey Uyen & Helen, love your blog!   I especially love Helen’s (older) videos in Vietnamese with her Danang accent.  I’m curious on how you learn how to do all these recipes?  I’d like to compile a ‘recipe’ book with all the Vietnamese street / snack food on my next trip to VN, whenever that is, but the point is how to find people who are willing to part with their ‘secrets’?  🙂

I, too, love baking, in all types of desserts.   I tried this honeycomb cake so many times, and I’d like to say that it works all the time for me now.  Some of the additional tips I have based on several dismal failures in the past.

– If i don’t have Alsa (or single-acting) baking powder at hand, I substituted with 1-3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar + 3/4 teaspoons baking soda.

– For baking, I started the oven out at 375F and lower it down to 325F after 10 minutes.

– The vessels / pans you use for baking impact how high or how much tunnels your cake will have.   The ‘cheaper’ thus thinner the baking pans, the better the results.  The disposable aluminum pans work great!  Try it.  However, you do have to bake it longer.

– I used to strain and pour the mixture into the hot pan before, but it was difficult and being such a klutz I didn’t want to get burn (again).  Nowadays, I strain the mixture before hand, once or twice, then pour it into the pan.  There was no difference in the outcome.

– Due to the nature of the single-acting baking powder, do not let the mixture sit out too long before baking.  The rising reaction will greatly diminish and your cake won’t rise.  Sometimes, I mix everthing together in advance without the baking powder.  When the oven and baking pan(s) are ready, I would mix the baking powder then, strain one more time to make sure it evenly distributes, then pour and bake.

– Oh and I never invert the cake to cool either.  I notice if you bake in lower temperature then the cake will not deflate (much) afterwards.

Again, greatly enjoy your blog.  I thoroughly enjoy it and learn much from it. 
I want to get some cooking gadgets from Vietnam that I’m having a hard time finding it in the States.  Maybe you could point me to where to get them?  🙂

Helen Le

Hi Amy, thank you so much for sharing your experience in such great details!  And thank you also for watching all my videos 🙂

I’m sure you will enjoy your food exploration trip in Vietnam. Make friends and talk to the grandmas and the housewives, they will be willing to share their secrets 😉

For cooking gadgets you can get in any local market I guess

Thanks for dropping by!



hi, if i want to make a smaller portion, do i just adjust the ingredients accordingly?

for example 1/2 the amount of your ingredients for 1/2 the size of your outcome cake?

Helen Le

I’ve never tried to do that but I guess it would work. But you’d better use a smaller baking pan. Good luck!


 2 cups tapioca starch = 8 oz = 240g bột năngHi,Should I use 1 or 2 cups of tapioca starch?  You’ve listed 2 cups tapioca starch = 8 oz.  I believe 2 cups should equal to 16 oz.  Please clarify.  Thank you!


Hi Kimmy , I am talking about the weight (oz) and not the volumn (fl. oz.), so pls use 2 cups of tapioca starch which weighs 8 oz.


Unfortunately not. Only tapioca starch gives you the chewy texture. Making this cake is quite tricky, so it is important that you abide strictly by the recipe. Any changes might lead to failure. Good luck 🙂

Andrew Keeper

Hi Helen, if I buy “Backpulver” in Germany like Dr. Oecker or Ruf, it’s the right one to make, isn’t it? Thanks!

i have seen a banh bo recipe which includes yeast powder and rice flour. Do you have any opinion about that? What might be
causing my cake to collapse?

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