Chinese Steamed Cupcakes – Faat Go/Prosperity Cakes
If you happen to live in New York City and you want to try this faat go recipe, I suggest that you take a visit to Chinatown and purchase a bag of homemade “wet” rice flour which is low-gluten. I can honestly tell you that I don’t know how to make this flour but I can tell you where to buy it. Having the right kind of flour is key to your prosperity cakes.
Now in Cantonese it is called, “Zhi mai fun.” Once you tell the clerk that you want this, he will give you a bag of rice flour which is shown below:
Notice that this flour is clumpy and not dry like most flours. My mother tells me that this flour is essentially rice and flour that has been fermented for two days. Unfortunately I do not possess the know how, but I can tell you how it was made.
It all started with an obsession with Chinese cupcakes. AKA faat go (or huat kueh) as you say in Cantonese. My good friend Sally over at the tastyconfection and I wanted to learn how to make Chinese cupcakes because we have always eaten them. These special cupcakes are only available in Chinese bakeries during the time of Chinese New Year since they represent prosperity and success. There’s an old Chinese proverb which my mother always says that translates, “The more the cake blossoms, the more prosperous your year will be.” Something along the lines of this. Sally and I can care less about the superstitious properties that these cakes hold and wanted to eat them whenever we wanted to. The journey to find the most successful recipe was a frustrating one.
Complicated and non-traditional prosperity cupcake recipes disappointed me. I was amazed how I could not find a good old fashion Chinese recipe. There are many Malaysian and Singaporean recipes, but they’re not the ones that I am used to having. Sally tried learning the recipe from her grandmother, but unfortunately the cupcakes’ corners did not form which is why she is uncomfortable with sharing the recipe.
Now one day, my mother decided to make these cupcakes for my father’s birthday. She got the recipe from my aunt and then a couple of hours in the kitchen, she makes this:
Just the way I like it! And now I will share with you the recipe for these light, simple and delicious cupcakes!
- 3 sticks of Chinese brown candy (Fortune Stars Brand)
- 16 oz of [wet] hong kong rice flour (I went to the Chinese bakery/bakery manufacturer next to Fa Guo San in Chinatown, NY on Mott Street across from Tea and Tea cafe)
- 1 cup of water
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of oil
- 6 cup muffin pan
- Pressure cooker that is big enough to store your muffin tin
- White sesame to garnish
- Start boiling a big pot of water with a stand in it making sure the water doesn’t surpass the stand. We will need this to steam the faat go. Better if you have a pressure cooker so air doesn’t seep out. Once air seems out, your faat go will not blossom those beautiful corners.
- In another pot, pour a cup of water and bring that to a high boil. Then place 3 sticks of brown sugar into the pot and stir continuously until it melts. Let cool and put aside.
- Take your bag of flour and put it in the mixing bowl. Break apart the big chucks of flour until brittle.
- Pour all the sugar water into the flour mixture and stir continuously while breaking apart the small chunks. My mom prefers to do everything by hand by using a ladle instead of an electric hand mixer. Mix the batter until it is completely smooth.
- Add in 4 teaspoons of baking powder and stir until the batter is smooth.
- Add in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil until fully incorporated.
- Put in cupcake cups in your pan.
- Take one scoop of the batter with the ladle. If you want, you can smear the bottom of the ladle on the mixing bowl so it doesn’t drip all over the place and gently fill each cup to the top.
- The cupcake pan should be placed in the pressure cooker/steamer horizontally facing you since the heat is right below. Cover it and steam for 30 mins.
- - In two minutes, corners should start forming.
- When 30 minutes is up, garnish with white sesame. And voila, you have your very own prosperity cake
I will take a picture of the wet hong kong rice flour next time. That flour is key on making a soft and spongy cupcake. I have seen recipes that ask you to use cake flour for the batter. In my experience, it just makes the cupcakes very dense and dry.
I love Chinese Steamed Cupcakes. It is best served with it is completely steamed. When you leave the cupcakes out, it will shrink down in size and the only way to get it fluffy again is by steaming it. All the cupcake really comprises of is brown sugar and rice flour. It is very simple, spongy and soft with only a hint of sweetness which I love.
I wish you guys luck if you decide to pursue this recipe. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have!
Until next time,