This is the ultimate vegan Apam balik, Ban Jian Kuih or peanut ‘pancake’ turnover you need to try. My family is obsessed with this recipe, especially my daughter, who is a peanut lover.
If you asked what is my favorite snack/treat that I miss the most from Malaysia, apam balik is definitely at the top of the list. It’s also known as ban jian kuih or min jiang kuih, depending on where you are at. But, what exactly is this deliciousness though?
It’s a large wheat-based flour ‘pancake’ that’s usually pan-fried in a flat iron skillet. With a proper flour to leaving agent (baking soda or yeast) ratio, you’ll get a thick and soft ‘pancake’ easily. Then, it’s top with granulated sugar and crushed peanuts, which is the most common way of serving. When ready, the ‘pancake’ is folded in half, thus the name ‘balik’ means.
The apam balik thickness, size, and filling vary from stall to stall but they are essentially the same tasty treat. It can be served as a breakfast treat or afternoon snack, so it can be seen at morning or night markets in Malaysia. I always get mine in the morning before school. Most recipes may contain eggs, so if you do visit Malaysia and plan to order this yummy snack, just check with the owner to be sure. Or make some today in your own kitchen with the simple and easy recipe below.
What are the key ingredients
Below are the ingredients for a traditional apam balik.
- Peanuts – It makes a big difference if you roast your own peanuts. Simply toast or roast the red skin peanuts until fragrant or cooked through. Remove the skins before blending it. If using store-bought, opt for unsalted dry roasted peanuts.
- Batter – The batter is inspired by Che Nom and I replaced the egg with aquafaba (chickpea water/brine). Since I’m not using yeast, this batter has a combination of baking soda and baking powder to create that fluffiness.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar works the best but I’ve tried with monkfruit sweetener and that tasted great as well.
How to make vegan apam balik
First, prepare the batter. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat or whisk the aquafaba until it turns white or foamy. Add the sugar and whisk to combine.
Now add the aquafaba to the dry ingredients along with the water. Once combined, stir in the melted butter. Cover the bowl with a tight lid and set it aside to proof for at least 30 minutes.
Melted vegan butter
Then, roast or toast peanuts until fully cooked through. Then, cool and remove the skins. Skip this step if you are using store-bought roasted peanuts. Tip: Look for plain roasted peanuts if possible.
Using a food processor, pulse the peanuts in short bursts to crush them into bits. It’s important to do this slowly as over pulsing will turn the peanuts into peanut butter. Alternatively, you can crush the peanuts using a mortar and pestle. Set it aside.
Heat a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. The batter is enough to make 2 ten-inch ‘pancake’. Once you add the batter to the pan, use the flat bottom of a measuring cup and lightly push the batter in a circular motion from the middle to the outer perimeter. This will create a thick middle with a thin ring coming to the side of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid. Tip: a clear lid is highly recommended so you can check if the ‘pancake’ is ready.
Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until you see small holes at the top of the ‘pancake’. Uncover and sprinkle it with a layer of sugar. Cover and cook for another minute or until the sugar has just melted.
Uncover and sprinkle with a thick layer of crushed peanuts. Spread some vegan butter and creamed corn to one side of the ‘pancake’. Cover with a lid and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the bottom turns golden. Take a peek if needed.
When ready, loosen the ‘pancake’ side with a spatula and flip to create a half-moon shape. Transfer the ‘pancake’ to a cleaned surface and slice it into 4 pieces. Serve right away or at room temperature.
Vegan Apam Balik Cooking Tips
- Cast Iron vs non-stick pan – Many sellers in Malaysia use a large flat bottom with a tall side cast iron to cook the apam balik. Cast iron has an even heat surface and it creates a rough apam balik skin for a more rustic look. I used a non-stick skillet and didn’t use any oil, so mine is smooth. If you want a rustic look, you can lightly grease the non-stick skillet before adding the batter.
- Why I cup my palm when sprinkling the sugar and peanuts? I tried with spoon or spatula but I kept adding in big blobs and created an uneven layer. I have better control doing it with my palm.
- Creamed corn is optional but does add a touch of sweetness and create a good bind between the peanuts and the ‘pancake’.
Other Malaysian recipes to try
- Curry Chee Cheong Fun
- Mee Rebus (noodles in sweet potato gravy)
- Mee goreng mamak style
- KL Hokkien Mee (thick udon noodles in soy sauce)
This Vegan Apam Balik is
- the PERFECT snack to make for any peanut lover
- a must-try dish when you visit Malaysia (please check if egg is included for vegan version)
- Simple to make
- Easy to prepare for last-minute snack to WOW your guest
- Easily customizable
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Apam Balik
- 240 g [2 cups] all purpose flour
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter melted
- ¼ cup aquafaba chickpea water
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1¼ cup water
- 1½ cups roasted peanuts
- ¼ cup sweet creamed corn plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter separated, plus more to taste
- sugar as needed
- Prepare the batter. Combine all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Place aquafaba in another bowl. Using a hand blender, whisk it until foamy. Then, add the sugar and whisk again until combined.
- Now, pour this wet mixture to the flour and whisk to combine. Slowly add the water and continue to stir until no large lumps appear. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. The batter should be thick and smooth. Cover the bowl with a lid and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Prepare the peanuts. Place peanuts in a food processor and pulse in short bursts to crush the peanuts into bits. Loosen the peanuts using a spatula if needed in between pulses. Note: Do not pulse for too long because the heat from the blade will turn it into peanut butter. Empty the crushed peanuts into a bowl.
- To cook the apam balik, heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Divide the batter into 2 portions.
- Scoop a portion of batter into the pan using a measuring cup. Use the bottom of the cup and spread the batter in a circular motion from the middle to the outer perimeter. This will create an even layer with a thin side on the pan ring. Cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the surface has small holes all around.
- Uncover, sprinkle the 'pancake' with a thin layer of sugar (check my video on how I cup my palm for this step). Cover and cook for another 1 minute. Now, uncover and sprinkle a thick layer of crushed peanuts on top.
- Spread about 2 tablespoons sweet creamed corn and 1 tablespoon butter to one side of the 'pancake'. Cover and cook for another minute or until the bottom is golden brown. Whe
- When ready, loosen the 'pancake' side with a spatula and flip to create a half-moon shape. Transfer to a work surface and slice into your desired size. Serve warm.
- If you prefer not to use aquafaba, substitute it with an unsweetened plant milk instead
- Monkfruit sweetener is a great alternative for sugar