Chinese Fa Gao known as fortune cake usually for Chinese New Year or ancestor worship.

Chinese Fa Gao (Fortune Cake)

Ever since my interest about Guangdong cuisine grows, I like to visit my friend who is a native Cantonese woman. She can make lots of yummy Cantonese food. It is Chinese people’s custom to visit friends and relatives to deliver the best wishes of the coming year. As a foodie, the most exciting thing for me is to explore yummy food. I encountered with this beautiful blossoming steamed cake during the visit to the friend mentioned above.

Then I feel quite necessary to understand how it work!! Yeah, I need to make it at my own kitchen. However I am totally frustrated by the first trying and only seeing a ray of hop in the second attempt. See the picture below! And I become quite excited when I see the texture of the third time. So just be happy in all of your kitchen experience even the failed one.

Chinese Fa Gao (Fortune Cake)

We call the blossoming surface as a smile cake. In China, we get a flour mixture that is especially created to make fa gao. But I am wondering whether it is also available outside China. So I use all-purpose flour and baking powder for all the experiments. Here are some really important tips to guarantee this wonderful blossoming texture.

  1. The batter needed to be stirred enough. I cannot explain why but just an experience.
  2. The molds should be thin enough to ensure the maximum exposure to the vapor. Traditionally, ceramic molds are used especially for this Fa Gao. The bad thing is that I do not have some and they are relatively hard for me to find in a short time. So I use my egg tart molds.
  3. Enough water to ensure that you can use high fire at least during the first 10 minutes without burn your wok.
  4. Place the molds in after the water boils. Do not lift the lid during the process; otherwise the steam will escape.
  5. If you want a better blooming, use self-rise flour instead of all-purpose flour.

Chinese Fa Gao

Chinese Fa Gao (Fortune Cake)

Chinese Fa Gao (Fortune Cake)

Chinese steamed cake--Fa gao also known as Fortune Cake
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 440kcal
Author: Elaine


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 130 ml hot water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder


  • Melt brown sugar with hot water and set aside.
  • Combine flour with baking powder. Add the sugar water. Stir the batter in one direction for around 3-5 minutes. The longer; the better.
  • Pour batter to molds. I will recommend using a scoop and pour the batter directly to the center of the molds from higher places and let the batter flat by itself. Set aside.
  • Bring enough water to boil in a large wok or deep pot, set up the steamer and place the batter in when the water begins to boil. I would suggest add more water with the level just below the moulds.
  • Cove the lid and continue steam for around 20 to 25 minutes. The blossoming should occur around 10 minutes. So in the first 10 minutes, use high fire and you can choose to slow down your fire slightly or use high fire during the whole process (depending on how much water you added for steaming and do not burn your wok).


If you are using larger molds?lengthen the time to 30 minutes.


Calories: 440kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 6g | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 544mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 53g | Calcium: 228mg | Iron: 3.6mg
Chinese Fa Gao (Fortune Cake)
Chinese Fa Gao (Fortune Cake)

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    1. Hi Holly,
      This is known as fortune cake in Chinese. Fa means earning lots of money. That’s the main reason why it is so popular in Chinese New Year celebration.

  1. Hi!

    If I want to use food coloring in the batter, do I use white sugar instead in the same amount as the brown sugar?


  2. Hi,
    I use your method and I manage to bake this blooming Fa Gao. However, it’s not as blooming as yours. Is it because I am using all purpose flour instead of self-raising flour? Another thing is, I have stir the batter about 5 min, is it not enough of stirring?

    If I use self-raising flour, do I still need to add baking powder ?

    Thank you.

    1. All purpose flour should work too. The problem might be your steam or the container. You can see from my post that I failed several times before succeed with all purpose flour.
      If you can use self-raising flour, there is no need to add more baking powder. Just add water and sugar.

  3. 5 stars
    I have made several different versions- and the self-rising flour helped – also the steam! My steamer pot with insert and my rice steamer with insert worked better than the wok.

  4. 5 stars
    Just want you to know I used this recipe with success today. Even my hard to impress mom was impressed telling me that even my grandma had a hard time with dough blossoming. I just shrugged said it was really easy.

    1. Good job, Alice. Blossoming is not very difficult as long as all the tips are followed with attentions. Thanks for the feedback.

    1. Thanks – I made them but they didn’t blossom well. I think my batter was too thick. I poured two and then added a little water. The thinner ones bloomed a little better, but still not big. Maybe your measuring cups are different than mine (American cup 240 cc). Also could be due to high altitude where I live. But I’m glad I tried 🙂

  5. Does it matters if I use cupcake paper as mold? My cake doesn’t blossom. It became flat like biscuit =( but it taste nice. Any tips?

  6. how come many other recipes call for a mix of rice flour and all purpose flour? what is the difference between using a mix of rice + all-purpose flour versus just all-purpose flour?