Gia Trịnh

The old Vietnamese enjoy different cakes in different seasons. In summer when leaves thrive, desserts from manh cong and rau ma are popular. In autumn and winter, cakes made of raddish, gac fruit, thorn leaves and khuc leaves are produced and consumed. As time goes by, with the development of agriculture and advances in preservation and freezing technology, you can devour cakes from nature – foundational ingredients of Gia Trinh traditional cakes. The color of each cake matches perfectly with the material forming the cake: Gac fruit cake has striking red of ripe gac. Danh danh cake maintains shining yellow of danh danh seeds. Coconut cake catches your attention by its twikling white coconut flesh.
According to the properties and colors, cakes are divided to 5 main categories ofnature elements: Metal (yellow, gold), Wood (green), Fire (red, purple) and earth (brown, black). Colors of cake represent their cooling and heating properties and priceless medicinal use brought to appetizers.

I. Metal (Gold)
1. Danh danh (gardenia)
Danh danh can easily be mistaken with “xu xe” – a cake traditionally appears in Vietnamese wedding ceremonies. However, the ingredients to make danh danh totally differ. Danh danh cake is made of seeds of danh danh, a kind of gardenia in the coffee family, thus a tasty medicine for its clearing, calming and cooling properties.
Danh danh cake is chewy and gooey.
2. 9 cloud
The name of the cake can describe your feeling once you have a bite of the cake. 9 layers of clouds associate with 9 colorfulsegments of the cake: Green of pineapple leaves, Red of gac fruit, white of coconut…, which areall moist, flavorful and mushy. It also takes a lot of pain to make the cake: once the first layer is poured down and gets cool, another thin layer is put on carefully and evenly.
3. Durian cake
Durian cake has just appeared in Hanoi market since early 2015. The cake is both nice to have and beautiful to see. Durian cake yellow is darker than of danh danh cake, harmonized with a strong and second-to-none flavor of ripe durian. If you are a fan of this special fruit, durian cake is a must-have.
4. Daisy cake (under R&D, to be launched soon)

II. Wood (Green)
1. Khuc (sweet/salty)
Traditional khuc cake is rare until end of winter and spring. Holding the steaming hot khuc cake wrapped in several layers of banana leaves, both the old and the young can be thrillingly excited. Khuc cake is pretty chewy and salty with fat and beans. Small and tiny pieces of khuc leaves are easily spotted on the cake cover. Khuc leaves have many effects such as erasing cold, high temperature, coughing, sorethroat and reducing pain and swelling.
2. Manh cong
Hardly do people who are born and grow up in the city know “manh cong”. Those who live in the country side may not find the name familiar until seeing the leaves in their own eyes. Manh cong belongs to the acanthus family and used to be spotted in nearly every habitat, from the grandparents’ fences to village ponds. It has several strange names according to its various legends and medicinal uses including antifungal, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, anti-oxidant, insecticidal ones. People in the Southeast even call Manh cong “bim bip” or centrupus as they see the centrupus mother cover the broken leg of her offspring by the leaves chewed then broken part heals soon. Recent research even proves that rich sources of vitamin and minerals in manh cong leaves can help erase acnes, cool liver and eliminate poison. Made of these leaves,Manh cong cake smells fresh and soothing, balmy and pleasant.
3. Green tea cake
Because Vietnamese green tea is bittersome and does not get along well with other baking ingredients, my mother, who admires Japanese culture and mochi adds Japanese green tea to our traditional recipe. That the cake maintains the icy odor of tea and pastiness of steamed rice is easily ingested by digestion stimulation and fat burning of tea properties.

III. Water (White)
1. Coconut cake
Coconut cake will looks like a twinkle star once being put side by side with purple leaf cake. Those who live in the Central and South Vietnam can be familiar with this cake more than those who are in the North. Coconut essence, the hero of the cake, can be seen through the transparent cake exterior. Some sliced coconut flesh covers the cake to decorate it nice and yummy.
2. Crawling cake
The cake name in Vietnam – “bo” may confuse eaters as it also means “cow”. However, it is called “bo” or crawling because of its activity during the fermenting process. There are two common types of crawling cake: white steamed crawling cake and brown grilled one, of which the first is more popular and natural. It is not at all an easy task to make the cake and all efforts can go down the drain in seconds. A good crawling cake must neither be too thick nor thin. Instead, it should be sound yet bamy, tender, spongy and silky. The old Vietnamese, therefore, used to ask the potential daughter in law to make this cake to test her cooking ability.
3. Radish cake
The main ingredient of radish cake is obviously radish. Different from other ancient cakes, radish cake is purely transparent like jelly. The cake tastes best once kept cool in the frige because it may bring you the cool feeling of calm and freshness.
4. Wormwood (sweet/salty) cake
One can ask whether this is the wormwood used to fry egg or steam chicken. The answer is Yes, it truly is. Wormwood can be remembered for its bitterness but the wormwood cake is not. The smell of wormwood is still kept but in good harmony with sweet and tenderness. Only after eating can you recognize how much healthy medicine you have swallowed.

IV. Fire (Red)
1. Gac fruit cake
Gac fruit is associated with gac sticky rice or red square cake which is most popularly served in new year festival. Gac fruit cake is distinguished by its shining red and yellowish greasy and mashed bean interior. The reason why gac fruit is called “the fruit from the heaven” does not only come from sun-like appearance but alsoabundant nutrients and medicinal effects. You can be both healthier (Gac contains a lot of vitamin A) and happier (gac oil is good for heart and fights against cancer) by devouring gac fruit cake. But remember to buy Manh cong cake together with Gac fruit cake. Cakes should be eaten in pair!
2. Purple leaf cake
“Purple leaf cake” name sounds strikingly beautiful as its color and taste. The cake is made of purple leaves in the Northern highland where the minority often mix sticky rice with different regional leaves and herbs to make the square cake. Gia Trinh cakes already have every color except purple thus my mother finds the new method to blend normal ingredients and this very special leaves. Purple leaf cake is created, combining ancient, modernity and romance. Try this! It is mouthwatering, appetizing and extraordinary!

V. Earth (Brown, black)
1. Gai (sweet/salty)
All roots, bodies and leaves of Gai tree (Thorn tree) is purposely served in Vietnamese living. Especially Gai leaves are used to make cake/dessert and have cooling, anti-blood blocking, pro-sleeping and pain killing properties. Gai cake should be black, shouldn’t it? Black yet lip-smacking and smells scrumptious! Black goes well with dulcified fat, pepper-flavored meat and gelatinous green beans. It takes a lot of work to eat original Gai cake like unwrapping many layers of banana leaves otherwise it can stick to your hand. The more recent Gai cake is enfolded in clear nylon, which is appealing and convenient at the same time.
2. Suzhou cake (salty)
Suzhou cake most probably originated from China because of its very outstanding manufacturing and flavor, which is different from other Vietnamese traditional ones. The cake is white with scattering brown of mushrooms and dark pink of polk meat. It is refreshing and tastes both sweet and salty. Some of our customers comment that they often associate the chopped meat sweet soup in Hue with Suzhou cake.
3. Orange sesame ball (sweet/salty)
Gia Trinh bakery is famous for its orange sesame ball, so-called “shaking sesame ball”. The name tells a lot about the method to make the cake and the lively sound it makes. The orange sesame ball is round, enfolded by a thin grainy sesame layer. The brownish yellow is begeted by being deeply fried in oil. The cake is still dry, crunchy and slimy. Once you shake the ball, you can hear the bean core impinging the cover: crispy, crunchy, crispy, and crunchy! One of my customer shares with me that she only feels satisfied after feeding tens of balls continuously. What about you?