Steamed Rice Cake (白糖糕 Bái Táng Gāo): Steamed Rice Cake is a traditional sweet Chinese steamed rice cake made with rice flour and white sugar.
Bái Táng Gāo (or Pak Tong Gou in Cantonese) is a sweet Chinese steamed rice cake made with rice flour and white sugar. It was my late grandmother’s favourite snack, and she used to buy this for our breakfast. She would rise early in the morning, and wait patiently for the lady who came with a pushcart selling a variety of food in front of our house. During those days, one piece of Bái Táng Gāo cost about 3 cents. All of us grandchildren were very contented to have just a piece.
Nowadays, eating this sweet steamed rice cake always brings back memories of the good old days and the love and care my grandmother had for us. Now my children and especially my grandchildren also love to eat Bai Tang Gao. I hope this tradition will continue to pass down from generation to generation. But this is a dying business and the future generations may not have a chance to know what steamed rice cake tastes like. With this recipe I hope to pass it down so that they will learn how to make it and Bai Tang Gao will continue to live on.
Steamed Rice Cake (白糖糕 Bái Táng Gāo or Pak Tong Gou in Cantonese) is a traditional sweet Chinese steamed rice cake made with rice flour and white sugar.
- 140 grams Rice Flour
- 100 grams Caster Sugar
- 150 ml Water To add to flour
- 150 ml Water For making the syrup
- 5 leaves Pandan Leaves
- 1/2 tsp Dried Yeast
- 1/4 tsp Fine Salt Optional
- 1 tsp Oil
- 1 tbsp Water To dissolve the yeast
Wash the pandan leaves and cut them into 6-inch lengths.
Sieve the 150 gm of rice flour into a big bowl. Then add the 1/4 tsp of salt to the flour and mix well (optional).
Add 150 gm of water to the flour mixture and mix well with a whisk.
For the syrup, measure out 100 gm of sugar into a pot, then add pandan leaves and 150ml water into the pot. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pandan leaves and sieve the syrup.
- Slowly pour the syrup into the rice flour mixture stirring it constantly to prevent it from getting lumpy and set aside and let it cool until about 30°C or warm. If the mixture becomes lumpy, you can also sieve the mixture to remove any lumps.
Dissolve the 1/2 tsp of yeast with 1 TBsp of warm water and leave it for 5 mins or until it bubbles.
Add the yeast into the rice flour mixture and stir well.
Next, add in the 1 tsp of oil and mix well.
Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and leave it in a warm place for about 2 hrs or until it bubbles.
Grease a 7.5 inch stainless steel plate with oil.
Fill a wok with water and bring to a boil.
Loosely wrap a aluminium foil over the steaming plate to form a cover. Once the shape is formed, remove the aluminium foil gently.
Place the plate on the steaming rack in the wok. Then using a spoon to stir the rice flour mixture mixing well before pouring onto the plate ensuring that the plate is level. Then cover it with the aluminium foil cover and steam over high fire for about 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, use a satay stick to prick in the centre, if it comes out clean then it is done
- Remove plate from the wok and remove the aluminium foil and let the steamed rice cake / Bai Tang Gao cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!
Serve warm or at room temperature
- Ensure that the yeast is fresh, as yeast tend to lose its efficacy after being stored for some time (even if its not yet expired). Yeast is the key ingredient that aerates the Bai Tang Gao by introduces air pockets to form its distinctive honey-comb structure. If the yeast is too old, the Bai Tang Gao will end up dense and undercooked as the heat cannot penetrate well to cook it through. To test if the yeast is working, ensure that you see the bubbles form within 5 minutes of mixing it with warm water.
- Make sure that the amount of water does not reduce significantly when preparing the pandan sugar syrup otherwise the water will not be the right quantity.
- Ensure the rice flour and water are mixed well until smooth. Pour the hot syrup into the rice flour mixture very slowly and stir it constantly to prevent lumps.
- Before pouring the rice flour mixture onto the steaming plate, make sure to stir the mixture well. Reason: After 2 hours of resting, the flour residue, being heavier will sink to the bottom leaving the layer of water above it. As such, it is important to stir it to mix well before steaming otherwise the bottom part will be like a dough and the top part watery.
- Covering the plate with aluminium foil helps to prevent the water droplets from condensation on the wok cover from falling into the plate, and making the top layer of the steamed rice cake soggy. Alternatively, use a big towel to wrap over the wok cover.
- The amount of water for steaming must be the same level as the rack when placed in the wok to allow enough steam to circulate evenly in the wok while steaming.
- When transferring the plate of rice flour mixture into the wok for steaming, do not shake the plate. Make sure the plate if level otherwise after steaming, the Bai Tang Gao will be lope-sided, with one half thicker than the other.
- Keep a kettle of boiling water on standby in case you need to top up the water for steaming. Do not use room temperature water for topping up as it will affect the cooking time.
- Cut only when the steamed rice cake / Bai Tang Gao is completely cooled (at least 1-2 hours)
- I used a 7.5 inch base sloped stainless steel plate. For a 9-inch square tin, multiply the recipe by 1.5x (i.e. the amount of ingredients should be 50% more than suggested in this recipe).
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Baby/Toddler-Friendly: Healthy afternoon snack for toddlers and children! You can reduce the amount of sugar further if you want it less sweet.
- Child-Friendly: Healthy afternoon snack for toddlers and children! You can reduce the amount of sugar further if you want it less sweet.
- Egg-Free: No modifications needed.
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Gluten-Free: No modifications needed.
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
- Shellfish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Vegan: No modifications needed.
- Vegetarian: No modifications needed
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