Saturday, June 18, 2011

About UFOs and Cow Pies

UFO's, anyone?

Here's  my recreation of a popular tart known as UFO, and  among the Chinese speaking community Cow Pie Tart! Call whichever way you like, but Cow Pie seems more endearing to me. Haha, I'm crude!
This delicious tart is a specialty originating from Sandakan, an east coast town in Sabah. It is basically a thin sponge cake with a creamy custard  topping surrounded by soft billowy meringue. This tart or rather cake is usually sold in old style Chinese coffee shops. One tart is never enough, and growing up, I remember this cow pie tart is bought by the carton. In those days, as styrofoam boxes were unheard of  and  take away boxes were not common, empty cigarette cartons were used to pack the cow pies! I still remember the smell of  eggy deliciousness intermingling with tobacco. Ah, nostalgia. 

How about some Cow Pies?

Sponge Sheet Cake
(recipe adapted from Essential Pastries & Cakes by Jimmy Chang)

5 large eggs
100g icing sugar
30ml water
30ml vegetable oil
100gm superfine flour
1tsp vanilla essence

1) Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs and sugar until thick fluffy and pale.
2) Sift in flour and vanilla essence. Fold gently until well combined.
3) In another bowl, mix water and oil together. Add in 1/3 of the batter and mix well. Then combine with the rest of the remaining batter.
4) Pour into a baking paper lined swiss roll pan. Bake at 170C for 9 minutes  or until skewer comes out clean when tested.

Pastry Cream
(recipe adapted from Corner Cafe here)

500ml milk
4 egg yolks
110g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
4 tbsp cornflour
1 pinch salt (only if not adding butter, or using unsalted butter)
50g unsalted butter, for additional shine and firmness

1. Whisk together egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk (60ml), sugar and vanilla extract. Mix in cornflour and salt (if using).
2. In a saucepan, bring the remaining milk to just below boiling point. Slowly pour the hot milk in small stream into the egg mixture while stirring constantly with a whisk (very important). Once incorporated, pour everything back into the saucepan.
3. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and firms up. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
4. Pour the hot custard into a bowl and plunge the bottom of the bowl into another larger bowl of iced-water to cool, give it a whisk. (Or you could transfer the hot custard into a wide bowl, then cover with  clingfilm  pressed against it  and leave aside to cool completely.) Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

4 egg whites
6 tablespoons caster sugar

Beat egg whites and caster sugar until fluffy, shiny and stiff. Do not overbeat. The meringue  should be smooth when piped out.(I had overbeaten mine a little. Hence, the lumpy appearence.)

With a 3 inch round cookie cutter, stamp out individual cake bases from the sponge sheet. Then, using a piping bag, pipe meringue  on top of cake base along the cicumference to make a wall to contain the pastry cream. Once that's done, pipe the pastry cream to fill the middle. Turn on the grill function of your oven (upper heat element) and  bake until the meringue is lightly browned. You can also do this with a blowtorch if you own one. Done!
Note: There will be a lot of leftover pastry cream and meringue. I'd suggest cutting the respective recipes in half.


  1. this is soooo cute! (: look really mouthwatering too! i want to eat it! (:

  2. So cute! I've never seen this in singapore before, but it certainly looks interesting!

  3. how come i never know abt these cow pies? wonder why they called it cow pie? cake, meringue and custard ..allin one..that sounds fantastic and it looks like one of those exquisite , expensive type of dessert!!

  4. Hi Jasmine, Jacob & Lena,
    You can only find these cow pies in Sabah, not anywhere else :) But nowadays, these cow pies are not so common and only a couple kopitiams that i know of sell them.
    Lena, don't u think these cow pies resemble cow dung? Hahaha! That's why!

  5. Omg! I'm looking for this everywhere! I was born in Sabah where this cow pies were once very popular, but younger generation didn't follow the footsteps of the older ones and these great recipes are slowly phasing out from the market, they were baked so tasty and deliciously before, but with a younger gen taking over now, the custard is more little now with too much meringue around it ! Btw they are called cow pies because older generation piped the meringue on top of the custard like a shit(imagine). Maybe due to it's uncomfortable look, people have been changing the looks from cow shit, to cross design etc.

    I'm absolutely so excited now I'm gonna try this out, this is my fav since young !! Thank you so much :)

  6. Yaya tobacco carton! Same as me :)

  7. Hi, with your recipe, roughly how many cow pie you can make?


  8. Hi anonymous, sorry for the late reply. If i remember correctly, i think i made about 10 pieces.

  9. Hi,

    You hv mixture of different recipe fr different blog. eg: cake sheet fr Essential Pastries & Cakes n pastry cream fr Corner Cafe. With all these recipe join together, are they taste exactly like d original UFO fr sandakan?

    Appreciate u can share ur opinion..


  10. Hi Mandy, these were just my recreation of the Sandakan cow pies. Of course these didn't taste exactly like the original... these tasted better! Well I'm biased of course! Hehe


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...