June 7, 2015

Chinese Ma Lai Gao Steamed Sponge Cake 馬拉糕

Chinese Ma Lai Gao Steamed Sponge Cake 馬拉糕

Chinese, Ma Lai Gao, Ma lai go, ma lai koh, Steamed, Sponge, Cake, recipe,  馬拉糕, malay cake, malaysian cake
By Published: 2015-06-07

I like to be able to have a bit of homemade cake or bread ready to feed my little girl before she goes to school everyday.  She is a very reluctant waker-upper in the morning and time somehow always ends up being squeezed tight in the rush to get her to school on time.  So it is very convenient to have a homemade goodie that we can grab and go, then eating leisurely on the walk to school.  Sometimes we have my Best Banana Bread, sometimes Steamed Sugar Sponge Cake, sometimes homemade bread spread with Chinese Style Liver Pate.  But you know how kids are, they get bored really easily and say to you, with a grumpy face: 'Mom, this again?!'  Ouch, the hurt!  But it's okay, this sort of rebellion inspires me to try new things!  So this is my latest for breakfast cake, the Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake Ma Lai Gao, or 馬拉糕.  A light, airy, sweet and buttery tasting cake that goes down real easy and  is a cinch to make!

Chinese, Ma Lai Gao, Ma lai go, ma lai koh, Steamed, Sponge, Cake, recipe,  馬拉糕, malay cake, malaysian cake

This yummy cake is steam cooked, which all Chinese cakes and buns are.  It's weird to think of steaming cakes at first and then you realize that steaming is great because it makes cakes that are light, tender and very moist.  These traditional Chinese cakes are usually eaten when one goes to have Dim Sum, where the Ma Lai Gao can be ordered by the slice, hot and moist from the dim sum cart straight to your table.  

When steaming, try using a bamboo steamer .  It prevents drips of water on top of whatever you're steaming, how cool (and useful) it that!  For more interesting bamboo tidbits see our post on Handmade Bamboo Steamers 手作竹蒸籠.

Chinese, Ma Lai Gao, Ma lai go, ma lai koh, Steamed, Sponge, Cake, recipe,  馬拉糕, malay cake, malaysian cake
The batter will bubble a bit when mixed
The trick to this quick cake is in the rise of the cake.  This Steamed Sponge Cake uses double action baking powder to get the rise.  Double action baking powder acts two times to create gas to lift up your cake.  The first time is when you mix the dry (flour, baking powder) into the wet.  As you mix the dry and the wet you will see bubbles form in the mix.  You want to mix just enough to incorporate and no more, otherwise you let too much gas out.  The second time the baking powder acts is when you steam the cakes, more gas is formed and the cake rises as it is steamed, hopefully to towering heights.  The higher, the fluffier your cake.

Chinese, Ma Lai Gao, Ma lai go, ma lai koh, Steamed, Sponge, Cake, recipe,  馬拉糕, malay cake, malaysian cake
Resting the batter, see the bubbles forming?
Everything you will need to make this easy cake are staples in your kitchen already except for evaporated milk.  Evaporated milk is just milk that is evaporated and you can either buy it canned where it is labeled 'evaporated milk' or sometimes 'condensed milk'.  Be sure not to use sweetened condensed milk, though.  

Or you can just make evaporated milk yourself by cooking down milk over low heat, which is what I did.  That took a while to make though so I think next time if in a hurry I will try substituting cream for the evaporated milk.  The evaporated milk is what gives this cake its distinctive buttery taste, yum, yum!

Chinese, Ma Lai Gao, Ma lai go, ma lai koh, Steamed, Sponge, Cake, recipe,  馬拉糕, malay cake, malaysian cake

So easy to make these Chinese Ma Lai Gao, 10 mins tops to mix up, rest for 40 mins, and another 30 mins steaming.  How wonderful, just a quick making and steaming in the evening, let your beautiful little cakes cool overnight and for breakfast you've got fresh tasty cakes to feed yourself or your little ones!  Enjoy!

Chinese Ma Lai Gao Steamed Sponge Cake Recipe  馬拉糕
(makes 6 cakes)

6 small bowls or ramekins  (some nice ones here and here )

Ingredients:

2/3 cup raw sugar or brown sugar, 120g
5 tbsp evaporated milk, 90g
2 eggs
3 tbsp sunflower oil (or any neutral tasting oil), 40g
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 160g
4 tsp baking powder, 20g

Directions:

If making evaporated milk yourself:  Pour milk into a small sauce pot and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the milk is evaporated by half.   

Add evaporated milk, sugar, egg and oil into bowl and mix.  Sift flour and baking powder into the bowl.  Stir until dry and wet just incorporated.  Important to not mix the batter more than necessary in order to keep the gas bubbles inside the batter.  Pour batter into lightly oil greased bowls (or ramekins) until 80% full.  Place into your steamer and let the batter rest for 40 mins.

Prepare your boiling water.  Carefully place steamer basket over boiling water and steam at high heat for 20 mins and 10 more mins over low heat.  Take off heat and let cool.  Eat warm or let cool overnight and eat the next morning!

Tip: To remove from bowls use fingertips to gently pry edges away from bowl until the cake loosens and comes out.

Tip:  To store, wrap and keep in fridge.  Steam for 5 minutes over medium heat to reheat.


More Cake-i-licious Delights at The Hong Kong Cookery:

almond bean curdAlmond Bean Curd - An Easy and Elegant Chinese Dessert

tiramisuTiramisu - What More Could You Ask For?

birthday cake, Buttercream Frosting, chocolate, Little Girl's, recipe, 奶油糖霜, 巧克力, 生日蛋糕Little Girl's Chocolate Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting 奶油糖霜巧克力生日蛋糕

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23 comments:

  1. Your ma lai go looks so cute and pretty in the bowl. Haven't seen this 'kuih' being steamed in a bowl before. A very good idea!

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    1. Hi Sokehah - Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it! ~ellen

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  2. We never tried anything similar in the past, and Ma Lai Gao sounds like a great way to start!:) You're right, using steam will definitely produce a much more moist result!
    And your cakes look amazing in the photos Ellen!
    Very interesting Chinese method.
    Thank you so much!
    Panos and Mirella

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    Replies
    1. Hi Panos and Mirella - Thanks, I hope you get a chance to try it! ~ellen

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  3. I just made this recipe! I had this dish at a dim sum restaurant, and I really wanted to recreate it. I followed the recipe but added a bit of molasses for flavor and color (I believe the traditional recipe also calls for molasses?). I found it a bit dry though. The taste was good though. Perhaps I should add more oil or water the next time? What would you recommend?

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    Replies
    1. The traditional recipe does use brown sugar and that will make a darker colored cake. If you think it is too dry I would try adding an extra tbsp of melted butter into the batter. ~ellen

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    2. Have you heard of Tim Ho Wan's recipe for ma lai gao? They don't add any brown sugar or molasses at all - it's all through fermentation! Do you have a recipe for ma lai gao made with yeast/a starter dough? I'm curious to see the difference and to see if that would make it more moist.

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    3. Yes, I have heard of that recipe and will definitely try it when I've got a bit more time. Sounds interesting, no? ~ellen

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  4. you are killing me! i love this steamed cake so much. i always thought the brown coloring came from gula melaka (hence the name malay cake)?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Michelle! - You could use gula melaka (palm sugar) or any other dark sugar to create the brown color. ~ellen

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  5. I was going to buy the sugar and noticed that there was light brown and dark brown sugar. Does it make a difference and what would you recommend?

    http://forever-hibernating.blogspot.co.uk/

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    Replies
    1. Hi Carmen - The color of the sugar will determine the color of the steamed cakes. We used raw sugar which is light golden brown which is why our cakes came out golden brown. ~ellen

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  6. hi can use fresh milk,and self raising flour? and just baking powder?

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    Replies
    1. You can make evaporated milk from fresh milk, see instructions above in the post. I think self raising flour would work, just reduce the baking powder to 3 tsp instead of 4. ~ellen

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  7. Hi thanks for that wonderful recipe. Can i use coco sugar instead of raw sugar for health conscious persons.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you can substitute coconut sugar for the sugar in the recipe. ~ellen

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  8. Thanks for a great recipe. I added 2 tsp butter. The cake is soft and porous.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, a bit of butter would make the cake really fragrant, great idea! ~ellen

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  9. Most of the other ma lai gou recipe requires egg and sugar to be beaten with a mixer. Does your recipe require eggs and sugar to be beaten as well? Thks

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    Replies
    1. Just mix milk, egg, oil and sugar together til incorporated as per recipe. Beater not necessary. ~ ellen

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  10. I tried this recipe and the steam cake raised very well. I combined the Gula Melaka with brown sugar. Nice texture and taste goods. Unfortunately it's quite dry. Perhaps I should reduce oil and add butter.
    Thanks for the recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yens - Humm...I think you can add a bit more oil or a combo of the oil and a bit of extra butter to increase the moistness. It should be quite moist, though, as it is steamed and not baked. ~ellen

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