February 17, 2021

Osmanthus Chinese New Year Rice Cake 桂花年糕

Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕

An important part of the Chinese New Year is the making and eating of the Chinese New Year Rice Cake 年糕.  These perfectly round cakes symbolize the yearly reaffirmation of the whole, the union, the endless unbroken circle of family and life.  So you see how important a role these cakes take on?  This year I decided to add a twist on the usual sweet rice cake by adding flower blossoms to the mix.  This Osmanthus Chinese New Year Rice Cake 桂花年糕 is made with osmanthus infused sugar syrup, resulting in a cake that has all the wonderful chewy rice-i-ness of the traditional rice cake but permeated with the lightly floral, sweet and mouthwatering fragrance of the osmanthus flower.  

As I have mentioned before, osmanthus is one of my 媽媽's favorite flowers, so this one's for you dearest 媽媽!
 
Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕

These golden beauties are dried osmanthus blossoms 桂花乾.   These tree blossoms have a lighty sweet yet refreshing, creamy, apricot-y honey kind of fragrance.  The scent of osmanthus always brings a smile of joy to the face of those lucky enough to pass by an osmanthus tree in blossom.  At times it seems that this wonderful dreamy scent must be floating straight down from Jade Heaven. 


We bought our dried osmanthus flowers at our local wet market.  They can also be found, I've heard, at stores that sell Chinese medicine herbs.  Or you can find osmanthus blossoms online here.

Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕
Rock sugar
Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕
Osmanthus syrup

For the flower infused syrup you will need dried osmanthus flowers, rock sugar, and osmanthus syrup 桂花醬 which basically is osmanthus infused honey.  To be totally honest, after making this rice cake, I don't really think you have to have the osmanthus syrup for this as you're basically making an osmanthus infusion anyways.  Just add in a tbsp or two of honey to get that honey scent and an extra tbsp of dried blossoms.

However, osmanthus syrup by itself is a pure joy to have in the kitchen and simple to make.  Check out our recipes for not only osmanthus syrup but also the delectable osmanthus tea 桂花茶.  So uplifting and relaxing! 

Tip: If you don't have access to rock sugar, you could substitute with equal amount of white sugar plus a touch of brown sugar for deeper flavor.

Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕

Toss these into a pot of water and let it simmer away...  Your house will be filled with the soothing fragrance of springtime.

Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕

This is the osmanthus infused sugar water...isn't it gorgeous?  Once cooled it's ready to be mixed with the glutinous rice flour.  I think my little girl and I 'sampled' the sugar water (sooo yummy!) a wee too many times and ended up having to add water to the mix to make up the difference later...LOL!

Tip: Remember to buy 'glutinous rice flour '糯米粉' and not just plain 'rice flour 米粉' as these are two quite different things.  

Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕

Once mixed together the cake is ready for the steaming.  You may use a shallow round pan or even several small round pans to steam the rice cake in.  Just be sure to lightly oil the pan with a neutral oil before pouring the rice cake mixture in.  


For us, because we only have one working stove at the moment and one smallish steaming bamboo basket, I decided to try using the steamer itself as the steaming pan.  To do so I first lined the bamboo steamer with a thin, smooth cotton kitchen cloth.  Next I lined again using microwave cling film (because it's thicker and easier to work with.)  The rice cake mixture is poured into the steamer (that is now the mold) and smoothed out.  Be sure to bang the pan or steamer a couple of times firmly on a surface to expose any bubbles that might be hiding in the batter.

Tip:  Check out our post on bamboo steamers to find where we get our handmade bamboo steamers!

Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕

The rice cake develops a delectable golden hue as it steams.  Isn't that a lovely, lucky color!  Be sure to not skimp on the cooking time as it is necessary to fully cook the rice flour.  Let the cake cool down fully in the pan so as to let the cake shape set firmly.

Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕

Here's our round, golden Omanthus Chinese New Year Rice Cake 桂花年糕, all ready for the festival times.  I know, I know, we're already into the Chinese New Year by a few days but hey, it's really been a crazy year and it's never too late to make and eat yummiliciousness, amirite?  Happy Chinese New Year of the Bull to all our dear readers!

Osmanthus, Chinese New Year, Rice Cake, chinese, recipe,  traditional, festival food, 桂花, 年糕
Osmanthus Chinese New Year Rice Cake fried with egg

Super tip:  The best way to have rice cakes is to slice and then dip both sides into beaten egg, then fry til golden brown and soft.  YUMMY!  See our directions below for how to make.

Osmanthus Chinese New Year Rice Cake Recipe  桂花年糕
(adapted from 辛福應景的中式糕餅點心, makes 1 cake) Prep time:  10 mins   Cook time: 2 hours


4 1/2 cups glutinous rice flour 糯米粉, 600g
2 1/4 cup rock sugar, 450g
2 tbsp osmanthus syrup
2 tbsp dried osmanthus flowers
1 3/4 cup water, 414g

Add rock sugar, osmanthus syrup, dried osmanthus flowers and water to pot and simmer over low heat until all sugar is just melted.  Let the syrup cool completely.  Sift rice flour into syrup and stir til completely combined.  The mixture is quite thick but should be pourable with some help.  If too thick add water 2 tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached.  

Prepare cake pan by lightly oiling sides and bottom with a neutral oil.  Or to use a steamer as a mold, lay a thin kitchen towel down in steamer first, making sure the towel is large enough to cover the whole bottom and side and then overlap the sides of the steamer.  Add another layer of cling film, making sure that the film is large enough to go up top of the sides of steamer.  Pour in rice cake mixture and smooth the top.  Take pan or steamer and bang 4-5 times on a surface to settle any bubbles.  If using the steamer be sure to drape the over hanging kitchen towel up over the cover of steamer basket so that it won't burn.

Steam over high heat for 2 hours.  Remove from heat and let cool completely in pan or steamer.  Lift out and peel off cling film.  For an extra touch press on some dried osmanthus flowers.  At this point the rice cake can be wrapped and kept in fridge for a week.

To eat, slice the rice cake in 1/4 inch thick slices.  Beat one egg.  Heat up non stick pan over medium low heat, add in 2 tsp of oil.  Dip slices of rice cake into beaten egg on both sides, add quickly to pan and let cook for 1 min or until golden brown.  Flip over and cook other side until golden brown and rice cake is soft all the way through.  Remove to plate and repeat for all slices.  Enjoy!

More Chinese New Year Treats at The Hong Kong Cookery:




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