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Traditional Chinese Steamed Cake (Fa Gao)

This is a fa gao recipe I came up with after searching through many different versions. It's light and fluffy yet still traditional, representing prosperity during the New Year.

How to Make It

  1. Pour warm water into a small bowl, then sprinkle yeast over the surface. Let stand until yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 5 minutes.

  2. Sift cake flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt together in a small bowl.

  3. Beat milk, melted butter, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in yeast mixture until smooth. Cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 to 2 hours.

  4. Line a 9-inch round pan with parchment paper. Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

  5. Pour risen batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with raisins. Place the pan onto the steamer insert. Cover the pan and steam until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

  6. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove cake and place directly onto the wire rack to cool completely.


  • ½ cup warm water (no more than 100 degrees F/40 degrees C)

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour

  • ½ cup cornmeal

  • ⅓ cup superfine sugar

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup milk

  • ⅓ cup melted butter

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ¼ cup raisins (Optional)

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