Tuesday, January 15, 2013

“Zhuang Yuan” rice cake

Zhuang Yuan is an ancient Chinese word, which means No 1 Scholar.  The origin of this sweet dim sum's name has many different versions.  In the most common one, in ancient China every three years there is final national examination in Forbidden Palace; the top three can get position in the central government.   That means wealth. so that's very important; people work their whole life to prepare for the test. Before the examination family and friends will make this rice cake as for good luck.  The cake is shaped like the hat which Zhuang Yuan wear. I don't have the right mold for it so I just used muffin cups.  If you want an authentic one you have fly to Taiwan. 

This rice cake is made with sticky rice flour and filled with ground sesame or ground peanuts, then steamed.  Sticky rice makes the cake really glutinous and full of aroma after every bite.   The only problem is that you have to brush your teeth carefully after you eat it!  You can eat it hot and cold.  This cake is lighter and healthier than most western desserts.

Steam rice cake 

Yield 12 


sugar   30g
water 140g
sticky rice flour 200g
almond flour  50g

peanut filling
peanut butter 35g
icing sugar 20g

sesame filling
ground black sesame  20g
icing sugar  20g
butter  1tbsp


1. Melt sugar in the water, then add sticky rice flour and almond flour, mix by hand well, and set aside for 1 hour.  This cake is easy to makeonly this step needs time and patience: after the flour is mixed with water, it needs to be sifted.   It's kind of difficult, because it's wet so you need to use a spoon to push it down through the sieve. 

    2. Sift the icing sugar, then add to the sesame and peanut butter to make filling, divide to 6 equal             portions. 
    3. Put 1/3 of the flour into the cupcake molds, then put in the steamer.

     4. Boil the water first, then steam them for 5 mins

    5. Open the steamer and put the filling in the middle.  Add the remaining 2/3 flour on the top and    
        around the filling.
    6. Steam another 5 mins.

I added too much filling, but still yummy!

Authentic  Zhuang Yuan rice cake

The mold for the cake: you only steam one cake at a time!

This cake was from Qing Dynasty; but now only the Taiwanese keep the tradition and pass it down.  That's another reason I like Taiwan, they respect traditional culture better than the Chinese. One day I definitely will fly to Taiwan and indulge in all the delicious street food.

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