Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chinese Steamed Cake Ma Lai Gao 古法馬拉糕

Dim Sum Series, part 4:

This steamed cake is called ma lai gao. I have tried a few recipes using different ways to leaven the cake batter: beating whole eggs (physical), using yeast (biological) and/or baking soda/powder (chemical). None of the above gave me a satisfactory result.

The average maximum heat a household steamer can generate is about 212F/100C. This temperature is so much lower than the usual 350F/180C oven temperature used in baking a cake. It means that the way the cake batter is prepared is a crucial factor in determining whether it is a dense or soft cake.

I kept telling myself that there must be a way to make a fluffy and moist steamed cake. So, as a last resort, I went back to the traditional method: using an aged (prefermented) dough. This is a combination of biological and chemical methods. By making an aged dough (similar to a levain in making a sourdough bread), natural yeast and bacteria are cultivated. Later on, baking soda is added to balance the pH level. Leavening is provided by the yeast and baking powder. Although egg beating is not required in this recipe, some patience and time is required :).... However, you will be rewarded with a steamed melt-in-your-mouth cake that was achieved without the addition of lard (commonly used in restaurants).

For an updated recipe, click here

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Matcha Pastry 旋風綠茶酥

Dim Sum Series, part 3:

Matcha is just another name for green tea, right? This is what I always thought, until I recently attended a food show in Northern California. The Fancy Food Show is an international food show offered twice a year: San Francisco hosts during winter while New York City hosts the summer show. With over a thousand exhibits from all over the world, it is an exciting time for all those related to food industry, whether you are a retailer or wholesaler, or somewhere in between. New trends, products and tastes are often introduced during the show.

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