Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Recipe

Updated February 25, 2008

Originally posted December 7, 2006

No, this is not a section of an ant colony. This delectable item is a cake that you simply must try!

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

In Malaysia, this is called a “honeycomb cake”. It gets its name from the interesting honeycomb-like patterns caused by bubble trails baked into the cake. The texture is like a sponge cake, with more bounce and less crumble.

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake is similar to the Indonesian Bika Ambon but the Malaysian recipe calls for the sugar to be caramelized first, giving it a darker color. The cake is sweet with a hint of bitterness from the caramel. That’s one of the reasons I like this honeycomb cake so much.

The other thing I like about it is, it doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients, and is fairly easy to make. The only hard part is making the caramel sauce. Other than that, it’s a piece of, well, cake!

This Malaysian Honeycomb Cake recipe comes from Jo’s Deli Bakery, an excellent site for baking enthusiasts.

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Recipe


210g sugar
240g water
80g butter
6 eggs
160g condensed milk
180g all-purpose flour
2½ tsp baking soda

(What’s that? Still haven’t gotten that digital kitchen scale yet? Tsk tsk!)


1. In a saucepan over low heat, caramelize the sugar until it turns a dark golden brown.

Making Caramel Sauce for Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

 Making Caramel Sauce for Honeycomb Cake

2. Slowly and carefully pour the water into the caramel. CAUTION! The caramel is very hot and the water will quickly boil and steam. Stir until the caramel is dissolved in the water and it becomes a thin syrup. Remove from heat.

Pouring Water Into Caramel Sauce for Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

Pouring Water Into Caramel Sauce for Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

3. Add the butter and set the pan aside to cool.

Melting Butter in Caramel Sauce for Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

 Melting Butter in Caramel Sauce for Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

4. Preheat oven to 350*F.

5. Mix together the egg and condensed milk in a bowl.

6. Sift the flour and baking soda together into the egg and milk. Mix well.

7. Pour the caramel butter sauce into the batter and mix well.

Pouring Caramel Butter Sauce in to Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Batter

 Pouring Caramel Butter Sauce in to Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Batter

8. Pour the batter into a greased, 9-inch round cake pan. Let it sit for 5 minutes for the bubbles to begin developing.

9. Bake at 350*F with bottom heat only (no convection!) for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

10. When the cake is cool,turn it out onto a plate. Slice and serve.

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

 Malaysian Honeycomb Cake

Here’s a video I did a couple years ago of the whole process of making the Malaysian Honeycomb Cake:

I’d like to see you readers out there try this Malaysian Honeycomb Cake recipe out for yourselves. You won’t be disappointed!

Aloha, Nate

106 thoughts on “Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Recipe”

  1. I have never had this in Malaysia before but I had to try it after looking at your photo. Very easy to do and what a bizarre texture. Tasted even better the next day. Thanks again for the recipe.

  2. I just finished baking my Malaysian Honeycomb Cake 🙂 it took only about 40 min to bake. I’ve never tasted anything like it. I can’t describe it, but its REALLY good. Thanks

  3. Thank you for your step by step instructions. The video was very helpful. The cake turned out PERFECT, and it tasted exactly like the ones back home. And looked exactly like yours too. Thank you again.

  4. Hi Annie, great website with wonderful recipes. Yr website was recommended to me by my sister in law.

    Thanks for sharing your recipes. I would like to try baking the honeycomb cake. One question, can i reduce the quantity of both the sugar (use 200gm only ) and condensed milk (use 100gm only)? I prefer it to be not too sweet. Will it affect the texture of the cake?

    Looking forward for you advice. God Bless

    1. Personally, I’m not into very sweet cakes either so when I give a dessert recipe, it’s never very sweet. You’d be surprised that this cake is not too sweet at all. I don’t know if reducing the sugar and condensed milk in this recipe will affect the texture. You could try it and let me know. But I’m telling you, the sweetness is just right to me. Why don’t you try it as is first and see?

  5. Just made this cake for the first time. The recipe is so simple and your instructions so easy to follow, it was a pleasure to make.

    I changed it from one large cake to individual cakes (muffins, basically). They only took 20mins to bake and slipped out of the tray without any hassle. Because they’re quite sweet, we served them warm with lightly whipped plain cream and it was heavenly!

    My only failing was letting the batter sit too long waiting for the caramel to cool. I think I lost a lot of those wonderful bubbles that give the “honeycomb” effect. There were a few squiggles through the cake, but it wasn’t quite right. Oh dear, I guess I’ll just have to make it again! 😉

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  6. I have a convection oven but how do I turn off the top heating element? I baked this cake, it tastes very good but it does not look like yours when I cut it.

  7. I made this cake just an hour ago, for first time; looks like yours, but for me is not sweet enough and I don’t know why didn’t taste any caramel !!! Some advice?
    Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    1. Georgeta,

      actually, the cake is not very sweet. The sweetness of the sugar plays against the bitterness of the burnt caramel.

  8. Hi Annie, I stumble upon your recipe by chance. I have a recipe for honeycomb cake of my own from a grand-aunt years ago. Tried a few times. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. So I basically stop making it eventhough I love eating it a lot. So when I saw your recipe, I just couldn’t help but try. It is the easiest recipe that I’ve ever come across and I have made it successfully…first time and every time. I didn’t let the batter stand for 5 minutes before baking because I put mine straight into a cold oven as I usually do with watery cakes and it turned out perfect with only 50minutes of baking time all up. Thank you sooo much for the recipe. This recipe will definitely be under my “favourite recipe” category. Thank you once again.

  9. Hi Nate and Annie, thanks for this recipe. I just baked it and it was really really delicious. This recipe is a keeper for my family. Husband wants this for his birthday, how great is that. Thank you so very much for sharing this recipe. Muaahhh!!! *smile* .

    1. Thanks for the great comment, Sandra! You’re welcome to share where you got the recipe from with all your friends and family.

  10. i found the youtube clip and saved it, finally i have it in the oven to bring to a new year’s party. i used the internet to convert some of the quantities … the recipe seems like it’ll be forgiving for some variation. i never carmelized sugar before and it was taking long enough. it could be my stovetop but i had to turn the heat on to almost high as directed by a different youtube video. then it started getting interesting as the sugar got ropey – who knew! i came back on-line and found this, thinking it was someone else, because i was wondering if maylaysians top it with anything. but i’ll assume “not necessarily!” very interesting recipe, i’m confident it’ll be awesome!

  11. this is a follow-up to my prior post. i’m glad i looked in after 0:45 because the cake looked done – and it was. (i’ll check out the temperature of my oven today.) the flavor of the cake was nice, subtle. but the vid of someone carmelizing sugar mentioned that she like to caramelize it a bit longer/darker, i would try that next time, for a stronger flavor. the cake was very “spongey” and not in an altogether good way. i thought rubbery. and to the extent that perhaps next time i’d reduce a couple of eggs. but rummaging through what the hosts’ pantry contained i found some old blueberry preserves and some brandy – we simmered some of that up, poured and smeared it over the cake, and it was ultimately, with tweaking, exceptional. i’ll try it again, including getting a scale and testing out the temp in my oven, because obviously inexactness introduces many variables. thank you!

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for the follow-up comment! The cake is supposed to be that “rubbery” texture – lots of spring to it. I love the topping you made for it – sounds delicious!

  12. I know there have been many complimentary comments about this cake, however, I was skeptical…… I had never made such a liquidy cake batter/dough nor made a cake on purpose which such a strong smell of bicarbonate of soda. This is why I love trying new recipes! What joy when it worked out beautifully! The taste was great and somewhat familiar. Like a kueh-esque cake! Will be keeping this recipe! Do you know if there are many other Asian cakes which use this technique of baking? Would be interested in trying them out!

  13. hi,am actually nvr bake this honeycomb cake before and i’ve search a few honeycomb cake recipe with different ingredient measurement,and some only use 3eggs…well till i’ve found ur website,well am gonna try to use ur ingredient and see how it goes,cause some of my friend says,they try to bake honeycomb at first time but then it didn’t turn to what it supposed to be,and so i am going to prove to them that i can do it even in my first time…mmmmm wish me luck..

  14. Dear Annie,

    Thank you for posting this recipe. There used to be a nice hole-in-the-wall Malaysian restaurant in Minneapolis. The place was quite a mom-and-pop place; the mom cooked and the pop tended the till. A few years ago they closed the place because the owners retired and the other place left is more ‘yuppie’ type – wouldn’t even make a decent ‘martabak’. Baking this tonight and tasting it really has brought back good memories. I’ll be sure to share with several ‘adventurous’ Minnesotan friends. ^_^

  15. I have made this Kue Sarang Semut five times now. ^_^ All my good friends like it! I made three modifications:
    1. the number of eggs is five (if large; four if jumbo)
    2. 3 tablespoons coconut milk (I use Silk) and one disc of Thai palm sugar are added after water and before butter.
    3. 1 teaspoon of double-acting baking powder, one teaspoon baking soda, and a dash kosher salt are added to flour.
    Me thinketh that this tastes better than Bika Ambon and so much easier.

    Thank you, Annie and Nate!

    1. Hi Henriette, how big is your one disc of palm sugar? Did u keep to the 210g of normal sugar or did u reduce it?

  16. I have become obsessed with honeycomb cakes ever since I made my first vietnamese honeycomb cake. I have since wanted to try other types of honeycomb cakes and therefore I came across your recipe. I was pleasantly surprised by it’s wonderful texture and taste. My husband said that it was a bit oily for him and it was a tad too sweet for me. So the next one that I make I will probably reduce the butter and condense milk by half and hopefully it will be just as good but not as oily or sweet. I will also try it with coconut milk like the vietnamese version instead of butter and condense milk just to see what kind of cake I will end up with. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

  17. Have a few question:
    1. Step 2, do you turn off the stove when the water is poured in? do you let if boil a little after the water being mixed?
    2. Step 3, the mixture is being removed when the butter is being add in?
    3. How long does it the caramel left to cool before pouring into the batter?

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