One of the traditional dishes eaten during Chinese New Year is a New Year Cake. It’s a very simple steamed cake, made with glutinous rice flour for a mochi-like chewy texture and sweetened with brown sugar.
The Lunar New Year is this Friday, January 31, 2014.
One of the traditional dishes eaten during the New Year for Chinese people is a New Year Cake.
It’s a very simple steamed cake, made with glutinous rice flour for a mochi-like chewy texture and sweetened with brown sugar.
The name literally translates as “year cake.” It is supposed to be good luck to eat it because the cake name is a homonym for “higher year.” Thus, the belief is if you consume the cake, you will have a successful upcoming year. I always eat it simply because I love it, especially with its chewy texture.
The cake is readily available in Chinese markets around this time of year, but you can also easily make it at home. After the cake is finished steaming, it’s soft and chewy. Once it cools and is stored, it will become hard and dense. As a result, it is usually sliced and served either pan fried or dipped in egg batter and deep fried. Both methods heat the cake and restore it to its originally sticky and chewy form.
There’s many variations and flavors, but the most basic one which I grew up with is only three ingredients: glutinous rice flour, water, and brown sugar. You can make these ahead of time, store them in the fridge, gift them to friends.
Chinese New Year Cake
- 400 g glutinous rice flour
- 300 g dark brown sugar
- 2 cups water
- Bring water to a boil and stir in sugar until it is completely dissolved. Remove from stove and let syrup cool completely. Then, slowly add in rice flour, whisking it into the syrup. Whisk until batter is smooth and no lumps remain. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan. Pour in batter.
- Steam about 1 hour or until sides begin to pull away from cake and cake is solid and no longer a liquid batter. The cake will still be very soft. This is normal. You can eat as is, though it is more difficult to cut. To make it hard like the kind sold at the store, wrap cake with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight. To reheat, slice into 1/2 inch thick squares and pan fry with some oil until the cake is soft and chewy again and no longer hard. Another popular way to reheat is to coat the squares in egg and flour and deep fry.
- You can also use light brown sugar though the color of your cake will be lighter.
- I can never resist eating some right after it is steamed. I then place the rest in the fridge as it will be easier to cut into squares.
- Store any uneaten cake in the fridge.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.