Easy Chinese steamed rice cake made with plain rice flour, sticky rice flour, and sugar. It is a traditional Chinese dessert, featuring the strong aroma of rice flour. By adding purple sweet potato into the rice flour and turning it into a super good-looking dessert.
A little background
Songgao is a traditional and specialty dessert originating from Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province in China. It is made from rice flour glutinous rice flour as the main ingredient, mixed with sugar and steamed to form a soft, sweet, and delicious cake.
This steamed rice cake - Songgao is well-known across China for its fluffy texture and sweet fragrance.
Songgao is often gifted as presents during engagements, weddings, and other celebratory events in Wenzhou. It represents blessings for a sweet marriage and life ahead. There is also a tradition of making Songgao on the 25th day of the Lunar New Year, wishing for prosperity and success in the coming year.
The process of making Songgao starts with mixing rice flour with sugar and warm water to form a dough. Then the dough is pressed via a strainer to make it fluffy and light. Then the strained flour is transferred to steamers and steamed until fully cooked.
Traditional Songgao molds have floral patterns that imprint on the surface of the cakes. So if you have this kind of tool by hand, try to make some lovely flowers on the surface.
What does it taste like
You may be familiar with another steamed rice cake named Baitanggao which comes from Cantonese cuisine. The two taste totally different.
The Songgao steamed cake has a fluffy texture with a super strong aroma of rice. When you bite it, you can feel the fluffy and almost melt in your mouth.
I make layered Songgao by adding sweet purple powder (or Ube powder). You can change the ways of laying the ingredients.
A classic match or dipping for this steamed rice cake is osmanthus flower syrup. If you plan to serve it with sweet dipping sauce, reduce the sugar amount in the cake dough.
How to make steamed rice cake at home
- Mix all the dry ingredients rice flour, sticky rice flour, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Then take ⅔ of the dry flour and ⅔ water. The mixed flour can hold the shape easily.
Add purple sweet flour or Ube flour into the remaining ⅓ mixture. Add water to mix well too.
If you want to change the color, you can use red yeast powder, strawberry powder, or black sesame powder for a black version.
Strain the two types of mixture. You may need to press it through with a scraper or scoop.
Now we start to assemble the cake. Place a wet cloth as a liner in your bamboo steamer Place a mold, either square or round shape, Now we place one layer of white flour (around 1 cm high ) followed by another layer of purple flour. You can change the order to make it different in appearance.
You can gently smooth for better shapes but don't press it.
For an even fluffier version, re-shifting the flour again.
If you have any leftovers, re-steam it for reheating.
Steamed Rice Cake, a fluffy version
- 1 cup rice flour
- ½ cup sticky rice flour
- 3 tbsp. white sugar
- 3 tsp. sweet potato powder or Ube powder
- 95 ml water
- Mix rice flour, sticky rice flour, sugar and water in a large bowl. The mixed flour can hold the shape easily.
- Take ⅓ of the mixture, add sweet potato powder or ube powder.
- Strain the two types of mixture. You may need to press it through with a scraper.
- Set up the steamer: use a wet cloth as a liner and then use a cake mould, add one layer of white rice flour mixture and then top with another layer of purple rice flour. Cut 2 or 3 lines on the surface and cover with another wet cloth.
- Steam for 20 minutes.
- Take the cake out and cut into one bite sizes.