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Enjoy the Delicious Taste of Chinese Rice Cake

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Craving something sweet and irresistible? Call in this Chinese rice cake recipe. These sweet cakes are made from simple ingredients and are steamed resulting in a deliciously chewy and sweet treat that is sure to delight your taste buds.

hand holding a piece of chinese rice cake

Chinese rice cake, also known as bai tang gao or white sugar sponge cake, is a traditional Chinese food that is often enjoyed during the Chinese New Year celebrations. These rice cakes are steamed to perfection and ever so popular in Hawai’i.

If you’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant in Hawai’i, then you’ve probably seen Chinese steamed rice cake on the menu. And it’s definitely something I try to get my hands on whenever  I get the chance.

So much so that I decided to make it at home, since homemade is always so yummy. And you can make it too. It’s really easy.

chinese rice cake on a cutting board

To make Chinese steamed rice cake you’ll need

(Full recipe instructions and ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post)

  • Water. Warm this to between 105-115F to proof the yeast.
  • Yeast. Active dry works well for this recipe, but you can use rapid rise as well.
  • Water. Yes you’ll need more water to make the simple syrup mixture.
  • Granulated sugar. Adds a little sweetness to this recipe.
  • Rice flour. Not to be mistaken with Mochiko flour and can not be replaced with regular flour.
chinese rice cake ingredients

How to make rice cake

First you’ll want to proof your yeast. Add warm water to a small dish and pour in your yeast. Stir to combine and allow to proof for 10-15 minutes.

yeast for chinese rice cake

Next, you’ll make the simple sugar to sweeten the white sugar sponge cake. Place a small pot on the stove over medium high heat. Add water and granulated sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Now for the batter. Add rice flour to a bowl and pour in the simple syrup. Mix until well combined. Allow the mixture to cool to below 115F. Once the batter has cooled, pour in the proofed yeast. Stir to combine. 

Place the batter in a warm area and allow it to rise for one hour. I like to use my microwave or oven for this step. 

About 5 minutes before the batter is ready, place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a rolling boil. Place the bamboo steamer basket over the pot.

chinese rice cake batter proofed in a bowl

The batter will be ready when you see lots of bubbles at the top. Pour the mixture in a greased 6 or 8 inch cake pan. Place the pan in the steamer and close the lid. Steam for 20-25 minutes. Once done, allow to rest for 2-5 minutes in the steamer with the lid on. The thicker the rice cake the longer it will take to cook.

chinese rice cake in a bamboo steamer

Remove the pan from the steamer, allow it to cool completely, and ENJOY!

4 Tips for Making the Best Chinese Steamed Rice Cake

  • Use the right type of flour. Be sure to get rice flour, which is made from finely milled rice. Unfortunately this cannot be replaced with mochiko flour or all purpose flour.
  • Make sure your batter is the right consistency. Rice cake batter should be smooth and thin. To get the perfect consistency be sure to mix until all the lumps are gone and the batter is smooth.
  • Steam it properly. Steaming is a crucial step in making Chinese steamed rice cakes. Make sure to use a high-quality steamer like a bamboo steamer and preheat it before steaming the cake. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer basket you can use a pot with a lid. Be sure to wrap the lid with a kitchen towel to prevent condensation from collecting and dripping into the pan.
  • Don’t over cook. Over steaming your rice cake will result in a dense and dry cake. The cake is done once the sides of the cake just start to detach from the pan and when you push the top of the cake it springs back.
close up view of a cut piece of chinese rice cake

Frequently asked questions

What are steamed rice cakes made of?

Rice cakes are made with just 4 simple ingredients: water, yeast, sugar, and rice flour.

Are Chinese rice cakes gluten free?

Chinese rice cakes are made from glutinous rice flour, but don’t let the name fool you. Glutinous rice flour is gluten-free. The word glutinous, in this case, refers to the sticky texture.

Is mochi the same as rice cake?

Mochi is a type of rice cake. It is made by pounding steamed sweet glutinous rice and shaped. Rice cake is made with rice flour that is steamed into a cake.

chinese rice cake cut view

Other great Chinese recipes to try

hand holding a piece of chinese rice cake

Chinese Rice Cake

Relle Lum
Craving something sweet and irresistible? Call in this Chinese rice cake recipe. These sweet cakes are made from simple ingredients and are steamed resulting in a deliciously chewy and sweet treat that is sure to delight your taste buds.
4.98 from 47 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Proofing time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 8 servings
Calories 102 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoon water warmed to between 105-115F
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup rice flour

Instructions
 

  • Add 2 tablespoons warm water and yeast to a small dish. Stir to combine and set aside.
  • Set a small pot on the stove over medium high heat. Add 1 cup 1water and granulated sugar and stir until combined. Once the water starts to boil and the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat.
  • Add rice flour to a bowl. Pour in the simple syrup mixture into the rice flour. Mix until well combined. Allow to cool to less than 115F.
  • Once the rice flour mixture has cooled, pour in the yeast mixture. The yeast should have a bubbly layer over the top. Stir to combine. 
  • Place in a warm area and allow the yeast to ferment for 1 hour. The time may need to be increased if you live in a cold climate.
  • Once an hour has passed, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place a steamer basket over the pot.
  • Spray a 6 inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the rice flour mixture into the pan. Place the pan in the steamer basket and steam for 20-25 minutes.
  • Once the rice cake is done, turn off the heat and allow the rice cake to rest in the steamer with lid on for 2-5 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the steamer basket and let it cool. Once cooled, cut into triangle wedges and ENJOY!

Notes

4 Tips for Making the Best Chinese Steamed Rice Cake
  • Use the right type of flour. Be sure to get rice flour, which is made from finely milled rice. Unfortunately this cannot be replaced with mochiko flour or all purpose flour.
  • Make sure your batter is the right consistency. Rice cake batter should be smooth and thin. To get the perfect consistency be sure to mix until all the lumps are gone and the batter is smooth.
  • Steam it properly. Steaming is a crucial step in making Chinese steamed rice cakes. Make sure to use a high-quality steamer like a bamboo steamer and preheat it before steaming the cake. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer basket you can use a pot with a lid. Be sure to wrap the lid with a kitchen towel to prevent condensation from collecting and dripping into the pan.
  • Don’t over cook. Over steaming your rice cake will result in a dense and dry cake. The cake is done once the sides of the cake just start to detach from the pan and when you push the top of the cake it springs back.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 102kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 2gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 30mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword chinese food, chinese recipes, chinese rice cake, desserts, keeping it relle, rice cake, steamed rice cake
Did you make this recipe?Share a photo and tag @keeping.it.relle on Instagram so I can see all your delicious creations and Let me know how it was!

© Relle Lum for Keeping It Relle. Please do not copy and paste or screenshot recipes online or on social media. I’d love it if you share a link with a photo instead. Mahalo!

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chinese rice cake pin

By on January 22nd, 2023

About Relle

Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

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12 thoughts on “Enjoy the Delicious Taste of Chinese Rice Cake”

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for the great tips! I had tried to make these before and failed, but your step-by-step process and tips worked like a charm and I made them! They were delish!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    Never had these before, but I had rice flour and I gave it a try. And that was my best decision. So good and delicious. Will do this again for sure.

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Years ago, I had a Chinese rice cake and loved it. I never thought I could make it myself, until I saw your recipe. I crossed my fingers before making this cake. Your super easy steps made it very easy to make this cake and I was completely delighted by the results. Will make it again.

    Reply

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