Jackfruit & Poppy Seed Loaf Cake (CABAR #3)

CABAR is a series of dishes where I Cook with A Broken ARm, because, well, I broke my arm (from playing frisbee of all things). The word cabar also means ‘challenge’ in Malay, which is mighty apt, because it's been a challenge cooking with my temporary disability. By virtue of this, the recipes in this series are a lot simpler, and technically doable with just one arm. Fret not though, they all still have that kooky hint of Malaysian/Asian influence, which I know you've come to love on the blog!

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Jackfruit Cake & Coffee

It’s jackfruit season in Malaysia!

Side note: The word ‘season’ means close to zilch in Malaysia, because you can go to the fruit stall and they’ll tell you that they’ve got no jackfruit because jackfruits aren’t in season, but then on your drive home you'll spot a jackfruit tree in some random guy's yard sagging under the weight of its overly ripe, newspaper-wrapped fruits.

There is a case to be made for rarer fruits like mangosteen and langsat though, as they’re grown in very few orchards, and so will probably only be available during certain timeframes in the year (seasons, if you will). But for most other tropical fruits, you’d really have a better chance at winning the lottery than at trying to predict their seasons.

Side-side note: In Malaysia (and in other tropical parts too I'd imagine), you'll see lotsa trees with newspaper or plastic bags wrapped around their fruits. This traps the ethylene gas the fruits emit, which makes the fruit ripen quicker.

So, when I said ‘it’s jackfruit season’ at the start of the post, what I really meant was ‘I found some jackfruit at the fruit stall’.

Yes I love jackfruit. What's not to love, really? It's super fragrant, fun to eat, and slightly freaky looking - the hallmarks of a great Malaysian fruit. (Durian is the benchmark here .)

And while ripe, saccharine sweet jackfruit is great eaten on its own, for those slightly bland, fibrous sort, you're much better off making a cake out of it, which was exactly what I did!

Now I was about to go all out for this jackfruit cake - a nice spongy base, jackfruit buttercream, a coconut custard layer, some dehydrated jackfruit chips and tuiles for garnish, all the works essentially (and maybe even some Molly Yeh-inspired funfetti). But oh wait, I have a broken right arm. My hopes were dashed. My jackfruit gluttony cake will have to wait.

Well, I settled for the next best thing – a loaf cake! Loaf cakes taste and feel like a cake, and for all intents and purposes is a cake in all ways but shape. But the best thing about a loaf cake is that it takes about a third of the effort to make. You just have to make the batter (preferably in a mixer, highly recommended if you only have one functioning arm like me), and bake it off in the oven. There’s no need for any layering, crumb coating, fiddling with icing, or any of that risky assembly, and it’ll still look stellar.

For my jackfruit loaf cake recipe, I based it off a recipe for cempedak cake I got off Asya, this super cool lady chef I used to work with. (Cempedak is a fruit similar to jackfruit, but a lot more gooey and hella pungent,, in a good way.) I tweaked her recipe slightly to amp up the milder jackfruit flavour, and incorporated some poppy seeds in it. It's a bit of play off the standard British-café lemon and poppy seed loaf cake, but tropicalised. (Side-side-side note: Tropicalised should be a word.)

Not gonna lie though, as easy as loaf cakes are to make, with my broken arm, I still had to enlist the help of Mama Loh for this one, especially when it came to slicing up the jackfruit. (Thanks mom!) So technically this recipe isn’t quite CABAR-worthy, but ah well, it still tastes freaking great, and that’s what matters eh!

(Thank you Asya for a great base recipe!)

Jackfruit Loaf Cake Prep
Jackfruit Loaf Cake Pre-Baking
Jackfruit Loaf Cake
Jackfruit Loaf Cake

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Jackfruit and Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

makes 1 loaf


120g jackfruit, deseeded
30g coconut milk, can be substituted for regular milk or water
200 butter, left at room temperature until softened
150g sugar
3 eggs (~150g)
200g flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder (9g)
½ teaspoon salt
1 heaped tablespoon (~15g) of poppy seeds, optional


  1. Start by preparing the jackfruit. Pick out a few of the nicer looking pieces of jackfruit (~20g) and cut them up into 1cm-wide, longish-strips. These will be used for garnishing. As for the rest of the jackfruit, throw them into a blender with the coconut milk and blend until it turns into a rough paste. Alternatively, you can just mince it up until it turns pasty with a knife and some effort.
  2. Now onto the cake! Remember to take out the butter from your fridge an hour before making the cake to soften it, then add the butter and sugar to a mixer (beater attachment), and beat on medium-high until it turns pale and fluffy. This usually takes 5-10 minutes. Then, turn the mixer down to low and add in the eggs one at a time, waiting for it to incorporate nicely after each addition. Add in the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds and mix on medium until the cake batter is smooth and even. You might need to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl to get those lonely bits mixed in.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper, and pour in the cake batter, smoothing out the top with a spoon or spatula. Garnish your cake with those strips of jackfruit, and bake for 40-50 minutes. Check your cake after 40 minutes by poking a cake tester (or knife) into the middle of the cake. It’s done if your cake tester comes out clean!
  4. When it’s done, pull it out of the oven and remove it from the loaf tin, letting it cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes. Then slice it up into thick slices, and have it for breakfast or tea! (Or lunch if that’s your thing. I promise I won’t judge.)