I personally does not have objections to use chemical raising agents such as baking powder and baking soda, but when a recipe called for usage of quantities that exceeds my comfort limit, I will feel uncomfortable about the recipe. Putting health risks aside, it is the metallic aftertaste that I always have if too much baking powder or baking soda are used. At times, it can turn a bit bitter too..
It is rather common that for this recipe, quite a lot of baking powder or baking soda are used to raised the cakes. For example:
- Recipe 1: About 200 grams of flour – 4 eggs – 1.67 teaspoons of baking powder plus baking soda
- Recipe 2: 160 grams of flour – 2 eggs – 4 teaspoons of baking powder (about 20 grams )
- Recipe 3: 100 grams of flour – 3 eggs – 2 teaspoons of baking powder (about 10 grams)
Recently, I read that the traditional method is using yeast to raise the cake which is consistent with the living conditions of the granny many many years back. I am unsure when baking powder was used in Chinese cuisines but all these while, most traditional cuisines such as steamed buns, mantou or even huat kuih are all using yeast or overnight dough (老面）。 Possibly with the introduction of baking powder to the region, many recipes have in turn resort to the use of baking powder or baking soda to raise traditional cakes because it is faster and there is no need to wait for the proofing.
I have decided to try my designed recipe purely using yeast but it took much longer time to prepare and I was not certain before the steaming that it would work. It took me almost 4 hours to proof the cake as I can’t see the increase in height of the batter for the first 2 hours of proofing. Well, after pondering for a while, experience tells me that all high sugar high fat type of batter needs a longer time to raise using yeast and the increase in height will not be really obvious. As such, some traditional recipes even requested overnight proofing.
I am extremely satisfied with this cake. The cake is very spongy but the sponginess is different from those raised by baking powder. It’s sponginess is due to the developed gluten structure of the wheat flour . What it yields is a springy cake that you can slice beautifully without any debris.
This is my second recipe of ma la gao and therefore, i did not intend do any introduction on this famous Hong Kong dim sum steamed cake. If you are interested to know about background of ma la gao, you can refer to this recipe: Let’s Made This Dim Sum Cake At Home–Ma La Gao/Ma Lai Gao (马来糕）
While I like the taste of the cake prepared by baking powder, I do hope to improve the texture to make it more spongy. If you examine carefully the texture of the yellow colour ma la gao and this recipe, you will see the difference in texture. I have prepared the above recipe a few times and family members basically have no objection. Unlike other recipes in the internet, the above recipe is using very minimum of baking soda (1/4 teaspoon) and mostly raised by beaten eggs until ribbon stage.
Unlike the old recipe, the new recipe needs no egg beating and therefore, if you do not have a mixer, you can still prepare this cake. The old recipe is suitable for those who are running out of time to prepare the cake and do not mind the texture of kuih nerng ko (Chinese jidangao) .
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Prepare a 5 “ small cake
- 120 grams of cake flour or low protein flour
- 100 grams of coconut sugar (Gula Melaka) or brown sugar
- 50 grams of butter
- 2 eggs
- 1.5 teaspoon of instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons of evaporated milk or milk (optional)
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Melt the butter and brown sugar/Gula Melaka over the stove. Let it cool completely before proceeding to the next step .
- Crack the eggs, add evaporated milk (optional) and stir until it forms a liquid batter. Add the instant yeast and sifted flour. Stir until it forms a smooth batter. If necessary, sift the batter to ensure there is no lump.
- Transfer the batter to a steaming bamboo basket (with holes) lined with baking paper. Let it proof at room temperature for at least 3-4 hours with at least a few cm increase in height. The longer the proofing, the fluffier will be the cake and with well developed gluten structure, the cake will be more springy.
- Heat up a pot of hot water, steam the cake at high heat for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserts into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
If you are funning out of time, do not try this recipe unless you proof your batter overnight and steam on the next morning. My recommendation is to use this recipe that uses only 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda: Let’s Made This Dim Sum Cake At Home–Ma La Gao/Ma Lai Gao (马来糕）. For those who want another type of texture like those sold in the kuih stores, you may want to give this recipe a try.
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