Cooking with Alison

Baked Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake Variation)

In Asian Desserts on January 22, 2012 at am

Happy Chinese New Year!  “Nian gao” or “leen go” (translation: year cake) is a cake that is traditionally eaten at Chinese New Year.  It has a soft, dense, sticky and chewy texture and is not meant to be very sweet.  Traditionally, it is vegan and steamed.  See the traditional recipe here.  However, the non-traditional, non-vegan baked variation tastes even better (in my opinion).  This baked version combines a Western cake-like crust with the traditional sticky and chewy middle.  Traditional nian gao / leen go is usually made in 9″ or 10″ pie plates, but for the baked version, I prefer to make small individual sized cakes, because the crispy edges are the best part.  These make cute gifts for Chinese new year and are great for introducing people to Chinese new year cake, because nian gao could be considered an acquired taste.  Baked nian gao tastes best when served hot.

Baked Nian Gao Recipe (Chinese New Year Cake Variation)

makes 8 individual sized cakes; adapted from my mom’s friend, Angel’s recipe

8 (5″ x 1 3/8″ or 12.7 cm x 3.5 cm) disposable aluminum meat pie plates

1 (400 g) package of glutinous rice flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 1/2 cups total of milk and/or coconut milk (Note:  You can use any ratio that you’d like.  I used a 560 ml can of Mae Ploy thick consistency coconut milk and I topped it up to 2 1/2 cups with milk.  You could use 2 1/2 cups of thin consistency coconut milk instead.  If you don’t like coconut milk, you could use 2 1/2 cups of milk or evaporated milk.)

1 1/4 cup granulated white sugar, plus more for dusting (Note:  This cake is not meant to be very sweet.)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

vegetable cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, sift together the glutinous rice flour and baking powder and set aside.  Lightly grease the disposable aluminum pie plates with vegetable cooking spray, add a light sprinkling of granulated white sugar, and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, over low speed, combine the milk, coconut milk, oil and sugar.  Then increase the speed to 4 (or medium speed) and mix for another minute or two.  On low speed, mix in the eggs one at a time, waiting for one to be fully incorporated before adding the next.  Then on the lowest speed, add the sifted dry ingredients gradually.  Then increase the speed to 2 and mix until the batter is smooth.  Pour the batter into the greased and sugared pie plates, filling them almost to the top.  Note that they will rise slightly.  Bake in the centre of the oven until the edges are browned, turning halfway, about 28 to 30 minutes.  Place them on a wire rack to cool slightly.  Note that the cakes will sink slightly in the middle.  Serve the cakes while they are still hot, but not too hot to handle.  Store in the refrigerator and warm up in the oven before re-serving.

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    The Year of the Dragon officially kicks offOn Sunday night, Chinese families across the world will gather for a huge reunion dinner, a home-cooked meal that features foods with auspicious characteristics.We asked local bloggers to whip up three traditi…

  2. […] “Nian gao” or “leen go” (translation: year cake) is a cake that is traditionally eaten at Chinese New Year. It has a soft, dense, sticky and chewy texture and is not meant to be very sweet. Traditionally, it is vegan and steamed. The baked version combines a Western cake-like crust with the traditional sticky and chewy middle.  Traditional nian gao / leen go is usually made in 9″ or 10″ pie plates. Baked nian gao tastes best when served hot. (Cooking with Alison) […]

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