Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Steamed Cake (Malai Kou)

Summer weather is spilling its vengeance this week. After all those rainy days and cool nights, this week is nothing but mucky and blazing hot! To think that I have survived this kind of weather when I was still in Malaysia sometimes amazes me. Now, I can barely breathe in the high humidity atmosphere and get all worked up and light headed when I have to stay in the sun.

When the day is hot, I don't like adding heat inside the house. So definitely no baking, all the blinds and curtain drawn to keep the heat out and plenty of iced water to keep cool. Although no oven in operation, I thought of this steamed cake and steaming takes less time with less built up heat! These days, I don't think I can live without cooking and indeed I was bored to death if I haven't had this hobby and this blog to use up my time being indoors. Even my kids went napping in the comfort of a high speed fan blowing up their faces and left me with nothing to fuss about !

Anyways, this steamed cake is a norm in Dim Sum restaurants. It is served plain with no icing or anything extra and good to have as an afternoon tea snack. Although it is very light and soft, the amount of eggs used to make it is not for the faint hearted. And for this version, the butter's presence is required to give volume and to produce the tender bite to it. I have no idea why it is called 'Malai Kou' in Cantonese as this is definitely not originated from the Malay nor Malaysia but a steamed version of the French developed sponge cake! Perhaps it shares a similarity with the other steamed cup cake version which is very popular in Malaysia, popularly known as "Fatt Kou". According to my father in law, this cake which is served in small slices in mini plates is one of the more pricey Dim Sum items in Hong Kong and I cannot understand why as it is very easy to make and needs little attention in the batter mixing to the steaming part.

The addition of evaporated milk adds a light caramel like smell to this cake which tastes very good. I adapted this recipe from a very old Hong Kong Dim sum book and reduced the amount of eggs, sugar and oil content. I used an 8' x 8' Glass Pyrex square dish for steaming. There are alot of different recipes out there on this cake and alot of different outcome and when I first read this recipe which added butter, I was a bit skeptical as most Chinese cooking only uses lard or vegetable oil. But I cannot deny that adding butter gives the cake a better texture and I was surprised that after steaming, there wasn't a trace of butter that you can discern, not even in the smell. The taste came out perfect and the texture soft and light and knowing that all Hong Kong people are critics in everything they see, eat and buy, my father in law just had to comment that the surface should look smoother. Hmm.... that is what I called 'Homemade'!

Recipe :

1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
4 oz / 1 stick butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup low fat milk powder


1)Sift the flour together with the milk powder, baking powder and baking soda.
2)In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar till creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and beat till combine. Stir in the evaporated milk.
3)Fold in the flour mixture in 2 batches, incorporating all the wet ingredients thoroughly. Lastly, stir in the vegetable oil and mix evenly.
4)Prepare a steamer and boil the water. Grease lightly a square or round dish measuring 8 inches in diameter with vegetable oil.
5)Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with spatula. When the steaming water is ready, place the dish into the steamer. Steam on medium heat for 35 to 40 minutes.
6)Remove from steamer and let cool to room temperature before cutting.

Serves: 6 persons


terri@adailyobsession said...

u hav been busy! think looks very much like chinese steamed cake instead of malai go. i love both, but i think chinese steamed cake is too dry. will try this recipe some day. i've tried making it b4 but never turns out ok. in one recipe, soy sauce is used to give the color. weird.

Lily Anette said...

Terri: I didn't add the ammonia water so it is not the malai kou color. Surprisingly this cake still tasted very good after 3 days.