Chinese Ma Lai Gao Steamed Sponge Cake 馬拉糕
By Ellen L. 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!
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.
|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.
|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!
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)
2/3 cup raw sugar or brown sugar, 120g
5 tbsp evaporated milk, 90g
3 tbsp sunflower oil (or any neutral tasting oil), 40g
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 160g
4 tsp baking powder, 20g
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:
Tiramisu - What More Could You Ask For?
Little Girl's Chocolate Birthday Cake with Buttercream Frosting 奶油糖霜巧克力生日蛋糕