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Chongyang festival: the flower cake (Chinese steamed cake recipe)


how to make Chinese steamed rice cake
Chinese steamed cake



If I were to use Chinese words to describe my state when I was making this cake I would say that  ”there is no bottom in my heart”. Ha… it means I was in a bit of a panic mood and was feeling unsure about this recipe, since this was my first time ever making it, and also the first time using rice flour.

As I mentioned in my latest post, eating flower cake ( a kind of Chinese rice flour cake) is a very popular thing to do during Chongyang festival.  There are, however, important differences between North and South China, and also among different provinces in China.

The one I have made is definitely a Northern version; my beloved auntie used to make it, but I never learned, so I had to make an ‘emergency’ call to my parents. :))

This kind of Chinese cake is almost completely different to Western cakes, from the ingredients to the method of cooking. It is supposed to be lighter, since there is no cream or butter or even oil, and no vast amounts of sugar either. And another major difference is that this Chinese flower rice cake is steamed, not baked in the oven, so it can be translated as ‘Chinese steamed cake’.

It is fairly easy to make — just rice flour paste with red bean filling. There are some places in China where this cake would be made without any fillings at all. Jujube dates are used for decoration and hence this cake is also called ‘jujube date flower cake’. (See picture below)

Chinese culture Chongyang festival cake flower cake

(Image source: http://www.xinshipu.com/婆婆的北方蒸花糕-16999.htm)

Red beans are one of the most popular ingredients used in Chinese ‘bakeries’. You can buy ‘the ready-to-use’ ones everywhere in China or in any Chinese supermarket abroad. However, as I said in my Mooncake recipe, the ones sold in the market are too sweet for me, also I do not really like it if the red bean paste is ‘too’ fine, so I normally tend to make it myself — I can take control over the thickness, dryness, softness and sweetness.

Well, I think this habit of mine has to do with my childhood memories, when ‘ready-to-use’ red bean paste was nowhere to be found. My parents used to make their own red bean paste for my birthday ‘bread’ – ‘red bean bun’, since then, I always prefer homemade ones. And it is not difficult to make at all, only time consuming.

In this rice cake recipe, what I found a bit difficult is to make the ‘dough’ by using rice flour — as it is tricky for the amount of water mixing in, which has great impact on the result. I have tried a few times, and failed a few times. In the end, it was the ‘emergency’ call to my parents that solved the problem. :))

So, here you go, I will talk more as the recipe goes along. :))



For the dough: rice flour, glutinous rice flour, sugar, yeast

For the filling : adzuki beans, sugar, vanilla flavor

For decoration: mixed crushed nuts, walnuts, jujube dates


(For the filling, see ‘Moon cake with red bean filling’)

cake in Chinese Double Ninth festival flower cake
Red bean cake filling

In a mix bowl, pour in 3 cups of rice flour, 1 cup of glutinous rice flour, 1 teaspoon of yeast, 1 cup of sugar. (The proportion of the rice flour and glutinous rice flour is 1:4 normally, but I like the ‘sticky’ part of the glutinous rice flour, so put a little bit more.)

Chinese cake recipe Chongyang festival cake with red bean fillinghow to make Chinese steamed cake with rice flour and red bean filling

Add water into the flour mix, stir until it turns into a quite ‘loose’ paste. (If there is less water in the mix, then the cake would get too ‘hard’ and ‘dry’ after steaming.)

Chinese steamed cake recipe with rice flour and red bean filling
Rice flour paste

Pour one layer of the mix in a flat plate, around 0.8cm thick, it will rise up during steaming. (Normally in China, people would use, it is called ‘steaming cloth’, which can be placed directly on the steamer sheet to prevent the food from getting sticky on the sheet. Unfortunately, we don’t have it here, so I just used a flat plate instead, it is actual easier.)

red bean recipe with Chinese steamed cake
Rice flower sheet

Put one layer of red bean paste on top of it, do it gently, otherwise, it will be mixed up with the ‘dough’ is very ‘loose’.

Chinese rice flour cake recipe on double ninth festival
Rice flour sheet and red bean paste

Repeat the step 3 and 4, so you can get couple of more layers of the paste and the filling.

Chinese rice flour recipe for Chongyang festival cakeChinese recipes with rice flour- Chinese steamed cake for double ninth festival
Chinese rice flour cake recipe for Chongyang festival

On the top, spread crushed nuts, and roasted walnuts, decorate with jujube dates.

Chinese culture and festival food Chongyang festival cake
Toppings for the steamed cake

Place the plate in the steamer, with full fire, steam it for around 20 – 25 minutes. –

Chinese cake recipe with rice flour and red bean filling
Placing cake in the steamer

— There you go — Chinese steamed cake! :))

red bean recipe in Chinese cake for Chongyang festival
Chinese steamed flower cake

It should be eaten when it is warm, otherwise, the texture of the flour can get ‘funny’. If it is cold, warm up by steaming it again, or in the microwave for …say 40 seconds, the best result for warming up is to place it on top of rice when you make the rice or re-warm up the rice. :)

Related posts:

43. Chinese tea eggs
106. Hot and spicy pot (Vegetarian Ma la tang) I
112. Chinese Hot-pot! (part II)
Northeast Chinese shao mai (II)


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