Happy Chinese New Year!
There are many “must-have” traditional dishes for Chinese New Year. Good fortune cake (fa gao 發糕) is one of them. They are sweet little steamed cupcakes. They HAVE to have the split top to symbolise good fortune (the word “rise” is a pun with good fortune).
Traditionally, they are made with rice flour (not the sticky/glutinous type). They tend to go hard very quickly, so these days many people are making them with wheat flour. I make them with mostly wheat flour, but still add some rice flour to give it its traditional characteristic “gooeyness”. You can completely use wheat flour if you don’t think you’ll like the addition of rice flour.
For plain good fortune cakes, you’ll need:
- 2 cups standard flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour (NOT the sticky/glutinous type, or just use standard flour)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup brown or dark cane sugar
- 1 egg
- 1+1/4 cup water
You can add flavour to your mixture. I used 2 tablespoons of green tea powder and 1/4 cups of dried longan 龍眼 (soaked in warm water then drained) in the ones in the above photo. You can use other dried fruit.
You’ll need a few small ramekins or tea cups (no bigger than 7 cm in diameter and 5 cm tall, or about 180 ml) and line them with baking papers. You’ll also have something to steam the cupcakes in. A deep pot with a rack will do the job if you don’t have a steamer.
Follow these steps:
- Sift standard flour, rice flour, and baking powder into a bowl.
- Add sugar, water and egg and mix to a smooth batter with a egg beater. The consistency should be like crepe batter, which is a lot thinner than pancake batter.
- Add soaked dried fruit and flavour if you like.
- Bring water to a very rapid boil in your steamer. There should be at least 5 cm of water.
- Fill the lined ramekins with batter to 90% full and quickly put these evenly into the steamer. You may need to steam them in a few batches. The ramekins HAVE to be 90% full or the cakes won’t split.
- Steam on high heat with a lid for 20 minutes if your ramekins are roughly 120 ml, or 30 minutes if roughly 180 ml. Make sure strong steam is maintained ALL THE TIME or the cakes won’t split.
- Open the lid just a slit and peek to see if the cup cakes have the desired split tops. If not, steam for another 5 minutes with lid on then check again. If they are split and looking good, put a chopstick between the lid and pot to just leave a gap in between. Steam like this for another 5 minutes,
- Take them out of the steamer and let cool.
Enjoy at room temperature or slightly warmed.
Here’s a peek of our feast on Chinese New Year’s eve at the Wong’s (~20 people!). Claire cooked up a storm, as always. Big Bill, mom and I contributed a roast lamb shoulder, a roast chicken, a pot of slowed cooked pork. I’ll tell you more about these another time 🙂 For now,
good fortune to you for the year of dragon!